Just look around yourself. you will see different types of lights in our everyday life. And each type of light has a specific socket to match it. But the working principle of every light socket is almost similar. Therefore it's important to know how to test a light socket with a multimeter. Testing Lights and sockets can be tricky but this guide will make it easier for you.
What is a Light Socket?
A light socket (also known as a lamp holder) is a device that holds a lightbulb in place. Light sockets are made of insulated material like plastic, backlit or porcelain. And they come in many different shapes and sizes to suit various types of lightbulbs. Each socket has metal contacts (brass, aluminum or steel) which connect to the electrical circuit and supply current to the light bulb.
Types of Light Sockets
There are three main types of light sockets-
- Compact Fluorescent (CFL)
- Light Emitting Diode (LED)
- Halogen- GU10, GX5.3
Different types of light sockets and how to test them with multimeter
How to test a light bulb socket with multimeter?
Just like every other electrical device, light sockets can also malfunction. And the first step to fix any problem is to identify it. So, how do you test a light socket to see if it's working properly?
Here are a few steps that will help you on how to test a light socket:
Step by step Guide
- First of all, make sure that the light socket is receiving power. You can do this by using a multimeter. Just touch the probes of the multimeter to the two metal contacts inside the socket. If the tester lights up then it means that the socket is receiving power. If you're looking for a multimeter then you can visit my list of best multimeters for home use.
- If the socket is not receiving power then you'll need to check the wiring. Make sure that all the connections are tight and there is no loose wire.
- Another way to test a light socket is by using a continuity tester. Touch the probes of the continuity tester to the two metal contacts inside the socket. If it beeps then it means that the socket is working properly.
- You can also use a voltmeter to test a light socket. Just touch the probes of the voltmeter to the two metal contacts inside the socket. If the meter shows (120VAC) voltages then your socket is in good condition. I have also made a separate guide on testing 220V outlets.
- Another way to test a light socket is by using a light bulb. Just screw in a light bulb into the socket and turn on the power. If the light bulb lights up then it means that your socket is working properly.
- However, if nothing works then you have to replace the socket.
How to test incandescent light sockets?
Incandescent lights are the most common type of light fixtures in our homes. They are also called tungsten lights. These types of lights work by heating a tungsten filament until it becomes white hot and emits light. They are very inexpensive to produce but they are not very energy efficient.
Here are a few steps that will help you how to test an incandescent light socket:
- First of all, you need to identify the live wire and the neutral wire. The live wire is usually red, yellow or blue while the neutral wire is usually black or white.
- Now take a multimeter and set it to the “Ohms” or the “Continuity” mode.
- Touch the probes of the multimeter to the two metal contacts of the socket. If the multimeter beeps then it means the socket is faulty and needs to be replaced. But if it doesn’t beep then the socket is in good condition.
How to test fluorescent light sockets?
CFL bulbs are slowly replacing the traditional incandescent bulbs because they are more energy efficient. They work by passing an electric current through a gas-filled tube. This produces ultraviolet light which then reacts with the phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb to produce visible light.
Testing Procedure of fluorescent light sockets:
- The procedure for testing a tube light holder is almost similar to traditional light socket testing. However, you need to be a bit careful while handling CFL bulbs because they contain mercury which is harmful to the environment.
- First of all, you need to test if there is any loss in the tube light holder. You can check the losing by twisting the tube light a little bit. But be careful otherwise it may fall from the holder.
- Now Check the starter if the tube light is not loose. Just twist it or replace it with a new one. You can also physically inspect a tube light starter.
How to test Light Emitting Diode (LED) ?
LEDs are the most energy efficient type of light fixtures. They work by passing an electric current through a semiconductor material which produces light.
- LEDs need DC power to work efficiently. The procedure for testing an LED light is different from traditional light socket testing.
- First of all, you need to identify the positive and negative terminals of the LED. The positive terminal is usually longer than the negative terminal.
- Now take a multimeter and set it to DC voltage measurements. LEDs should be replaced if input voltages are in the rated range and they are not lit up.
How to test compact Halogen light socket?
Halogen lights are very similar to incandescent lights but they are more energy efficient. They work by passing an electric current through a halogen gas-filled bulb. This produces light of a higher intensity than an incandescent bulb.
The procedure for testing halogen light sockets is similar to testing incandescent light sockets. However, you need to be careful while handling halogen bulbs because they get very hot.
How to replace a light socket?
If you have tested the light socket and found that it is not working then you'll need to replace it.
- To replace a light socket, you'll need to:
- Turn off the power to the circuit at the breaker box.
- Take the light fixture off the socket.
- Remove the defective socket from the fixture. There will be two wires (live and neutral), just take out the wires from their respective terminals.
- Now take the new socket and insert the wires into their respective terminals.
- Screw in the new socket and install the light fixture.
- Turn on the power to the circuit at the breaker box.
- Test the new socket by turning on the light switch.
These are the steps that you need to follow in order to replace a light socket.
Safety Guide while testing light sockets
- Always make sure that the power is turned off before testing any light sockets.
- Be careful while handling CFL bulbs because they contain mercury which is harmful to the environment.
- Be careful while handling halogen bulbs because they get very hot.
- LEDs need DC power to work efficiently. Make sure you are using the right voltages.
Follow the steps mentioned above carefully while replacing a light socket.
Never touch any live wires as it can be very dangerous. Always make sure that the power is turned off before testing or replacing any light sockets.