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Need tips for adding dusk-to-dawn sensor to outdoor lights.

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http://boards.diynetwork.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/4691013504/m/1143925208

Apr 16, 2014, 09:45 PM
SturdyNail
Need tips for adding dusk-to-dawn sensor to outdoor lights.
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.
Apr 16, 2014, 11:21 PM
Jaybee
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
Apr 17, 2014, 12:33 PM
SturdyNail
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.
Apr 17, 2014, 05:32 PM
Sparky617
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.
Apr 17, 2014, 06:38 PM
Jaybee
If you do wind up taking the switches out of the circuit, yes - you will cover it all with a blank plate.


Jaybee
Apr 17, 2014, 10:49 PM
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
Apr 18, 2014, 08:26 AM
CommonwealthSparky
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...
Apr 18, 2014, 02:12 PM
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.


sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Apr 19, 2014, 07:31 AM
CommonwealthSparky
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...