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            DIY Message Boards  Hop To Forum Categories  Home Improvement  Hop To Forums  Electrical    Need tips for adding dusk-to-dawn sensor to outdoor lights.
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        Need tips for adding dusk-to-dawn sensor to outdoor lights. Sign In/Join 
        Picture of SturdyNail
        posted
        I have two lights on my garage (one on each side of the door). They are carriage house style fixtures. There is another light at the rear of the house.
        I'd like to put the lights on dusk-to-dawn sensors (one sensor for the two front lights and one sensor for the rear light).
        I understand the basic principle. The sensor, basically, takes the place of the wall switch. I should probably also mention that the current switches are three-way (one pair for the front and one pair for the rear).
        What is the optimal placement for the sensors?
        Where should I splice the sensor in to the wiring?
        What do I do with the existing wall switches?
        Can you recommend a good sensor?

        Thanks in advance.
         
        Posts: 320 | Location: Western NewYork | Registered: Jan 26, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        You will want to bypass the switches - especially since they are 3-ways. What can happen if you leave the switched in the circuit is that the power could be turned off - and you'd never know it until well after dark when your lights don't come on. It can work if you convert them to 2-way on/off switches.

        The easiest and cleanest way I can think of to do this is to replace your carriage lights with new ones that have an integrated photo switch already installed. Nothing to see that looks like a photo switch and an easy install. Downside of course is more cost - especially a factor if your existing coach lights are in good shape or are expensive.

        If you want to keep your existing lights and want all three to operate at exactly the same time, then you have to find the common point in the circuit that is downhill from all three lights. This may or may not be possible depending on how they are wired. You can get 3 sensors and install one at each light - the lights may come on at slightly different times but it will work.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10424 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of SturdyNail
        posted Hide Post
        Thanks Jaybee,

        The fixtures are in good shape. They're not particularly fancy. They were there when we bought the house around 22 years ago, so replacing them with fixtures that already have a photo switch may be the best way to go.

        What do I do with the existing switches; cover them with a blank plate?

        Thanks again.
         
        Posts: 320 | Location: Western NewYork | Registered: Jan 26, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        My experience with built in motion detectors and photo cells hasn't been great. If the fixtures are OK, I might look to put in a motion detector separate from the light fixtures. Access will determine how easy of a job this would be.

        For safety lighting you may be better off installing a couple of floods with motion detectors on them and leave the lights alone and on a switch. Depending on the layout I'd put the floods up under the soffit to illuminate the walkway whenever someone is going between the garage and the house.

        Another though would be to install landscape lighting along the walkway. The low voltage stuff doesn't require conduit, the cable is direct burial and since it is low voltage doesn't need to be buried very deep.


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 849 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        If you do wind up taking the switches out of the circuit, yes - you will cover it all with a blank plate.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10424 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of SturdyNail
        posted Hide Post
        Thanks Sparky and Jaybee.
        I'm not a big fan of the motion sensors. I've seen houses lighting up when the wind blows around here Smile
        The low voltage lights are a good option. It's mostly asphalt up by the house though so I don't have a great setup for burying them. Something to think about though.

        SturdyNail
         
        Posts: 320 | Location: Western NewYork | Registered: Jan 26, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of CommonwealthSparky
        posted Hide Post
        quote:
        Originally posted by SturdyNail:
        Thanks Sparky and Jaybee.
        I'm not a big fan of the motion sensors. I've seen houses lighting up when the wind blows around here Smile
        The low voltage lights are a good option. It's mostly asphalt up by the house though so I don't have a great setup for burying them. Something to think about though.

        SturdyNail


        Wind will trick sensors for sure. Big Grin Not to mention the odd opossum wandering by as well.


        Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
         
        Posts: 1535 | Location: Central Pennsylvania | Registered: Jun 02, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        waving tree branches. squirrels. leaves falling. they all charge up the path lights to the Ham Cave, which shines right in the bedroom window in my wife's face.

        so I have to crank down the sensitivity until I stumble over the fire ring before it turns on.

        modern conveniences, BAH.


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5820 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of CommonwealthSparky
        posted Hide Post
        quote:
        Originally posted by swschrad:
        waving tree branches. squirrels. leaves falling. they all charge up the path lights to the Ham Cave, which shines right in the bedroom window in my wife's face.

        so I have to crank down the sensitivity until I stumble over the fire ring before it turns on.

        modern conveniences, BAH.


        Since it is finally spring {methinks} sounds like a rework is in order. Wink


        Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
         
        Posts: 1535 | Location: Central Pennsylvania | Registered: Jun 02, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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