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Old 10-18-2009, 07:49 PM   #1
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Four wire to exterior outlet?


I'm having the exterior on my house stripped, insulated and re-sided and thought it would be a good time to convert an unused motion sensor light on a switch to a porch outlet.

I thought was odd was that the wire was red, white, and black with a ground but that was eclipsed pretty quickly by the realization that the wire came out of a hole in the siding - No box! In trying to discover if it came down from the attic or up from the basement I discovered it floated two feet across the house between the aluminum siding and some felt stuff.

It's now boxed where is exits the house (The box is fastened to the original wood siding and will be hard-covered before the insulation and siding are addded.) I added a 6 foot length of the same style of wire and brought it down to a weatherproof outlet but I didn't wire it up because I'm not sure how the utilize the red. (I thought perhaps white to silver, black to yellow, red to yellow, ground to ground?)

The outlet would be for Christmas lights, so being on a switch is perfect if the four-wire can be used for that purpose. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Old 10-18-2009, 08:28 PM   #2
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Four wire to exterior outlet?


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Originally Posted by ElsReverie View Post
I'm having the exterior on my house stripped, insulated and re-sided and thought it would be a good time to convert an unused motion sensor light on a switch to a porch outlet.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
If you need new windows, do them before the siding goes up. Much easier than doing them later...learned that the hard way.

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Old 10-19-2009, 08:12 AM   #3
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Four wire to exterior outlet?


It's not clear what you're asking. Have you established the source of this line at the service panel, i.e., which CB protects this line? Have you measured across these wires? Also, you'll need GFI on this circuit. Being 4 wires, there may have been a switch intended on the red wire and the black always hot. This setup needs analysis.

Last edited by oilseal; 10-19-2009 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:22 PM   #4
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Four wire to exterior outlet?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ElsReverie View Post
I'm having the exterior on my house stripped, insulated and re-sided and thought it would be a good time to convert an unused motion sensor light on a switch to a porch outlet.

I thought was odd was that the wire was red, white, and black with a ground but that was eclipsed pretty quickly by the realization that the wire came out of a hole in the siding - No box! In trying to discover if it came down from the attic or up from the basement I discovered it floated two feet across the house between the aluminum siding and some felt stuff.

It's now boxed where is exits the house (The box is fastened to the original wood siding and will be hard-covered before the insulation and siding are addded.) I added a 6 foot length of the same style of wire and brought it down to a weatherproof outlet but I didn't wire it up because I'm not sure how the utilize the red. (I thought perhaps white to silver, black to yellow, red to yellow, ground to ground?)

The outlet would be for Christmas lights, so being on a switch is perfect if the four-wire can be used for that purpose. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
How was it originally hooked up to the flood? Was the red capped off? I'm assuming it's going to be either 14-3 or 12-3. Meaning you will have one red, one black, one white, and a ground. Red and black would be used for 120v to either back-feed or feed. White is your neutral, ground is ... well your ground. Chances are, this was installed after the house was built, and the person had some left over 14-3 wire. I've seen this numerous times when homeowners do their own wiring. What you need to do, is test the black to ground, and red to ground.

If it's wired the way i think it is, you should get 120v on the black and nothing on the red.

OR you can go to the switch, take the plate off and look at the wire connected to the switch. Trace the red wire and see where it goes.

Try out those to things and tell us what you find.

If you can take a picture of the switch box where i can see the wiring and i can almost guarantee you i can tell you everything about it.

DO NOT hook up anything or change anything if you do not know what you are doing. This could cause damage to your switches, other appliances or your house! Yikes!

Figure out those two things post them on here and i will tell you where to go from there, should be pretty simple.
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Last edited by tripflex; 10-19-2009 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:15 PM   #5
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Four wire to exterior outlet?


I think the key here is motion sensor. A motion sensor has red, black, white, and many of todays also green. The black powers the sensor 24/7 and when motion is detected (and night) sends power down the red line to turn the light on.

I must ask is the sensor seperate from the light? Normally the red is contained in the light/sensor combo. You won't see the red unless the detector is seperate from the light.

There are situations one wants the sensor in one place, and the light it controls in another (like wanting the sensor controlling a house lamp and there's a post / tree in the way so it can't detect people walking towards the house... or wanting it to control a regular porch light or special light that doesn't come with a motion detector. If the sensor went on that light it would fool itself into thinking it's daytime and shut itself off so you have to have the sensor in a place out of the way of the light from what it controls, or on sheds opening the door will block the sensor, or controlling recessed lights. Boy I guess there are many situations for remote sensors... doing so you have to watch out the light it turns on doesn't shine into the sensor tricking it into thinking it's daytime, and why built-in sensor lights are typically flood/spotlights). I'm pretty sure the black can be used for the recept and red capped off.

Here's a picture of a typical sensor http://www.automat3d.com/wp-content/...ion-sensor.jpg and again, normally the black powers the sensor 24/7 and when motion is detected sends power down the red to turn the light on. It is also common for the sensor to be controlled by a switch too, there's a pattern of flicking it on/off that will turn the light on perm for those times you just want it to stay on until daylight instead of being a motion sensor light. That being the case use the blacks & whites (and grounds) only, cap off the red, and the switch that used to control the sensor will now control that recept. As others have pointed out, make it GFCI.

Last edited by Piedmont; 10-19-2009 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:32 PM   #6
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Four wire to exterior outlet?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Piedmont View Post
I think the key here is motion sensor. A motion sensor needs 2 power lines, the black powers the sensor 24/7 and when motion is detected (and night) sends power down the red line to turn the light on. Also needs a white & green for a 14-3 or a 12-3 needed (White, black, green, red).

I must say though perhaps not all the info was given because normally the red is contained in the light/sensor. You won't see the red unless the detector is seperate from the light. There are situations you want the sensor in one place, and the light it controls in another (a couple situations come to mind... if you want a sensor controlled house lamp and there's a post / tree blocking the sensor from detecting people approaching... or want a special lamp (such as recessed lights) controlled by the sensor and it doesn't normally come with one you'd get the sensor and have it control the lights remotely. That's when you'd see a black, red, white, and green. I'm pretty sure the black is powered 24/7, and the red went to the light so just use the black and cap off the red.

Here's a picture of a typical sensor http://www.automat3d.com/wp-content/...ion-sensor.jpg

Did not think about that, very good point! I just never use them in that sense so i didn't even think about it that way...

So basically, was the sensor mounted there by itself? How did the light function before?

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