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kemerick 11-03-2007 10:07 PM

photo cell lights thst only work sometimes...
I have new exterior lights that work only a few times a week. They will not work during the day due to the photo cell. I have been told that some lights can be set in an off mode by toggling the switch a few times and I think that may be the issue. I have a three year old and she really likes to play with stuff so that may be the issue...

I have tried several combinations of turning them off and on repeatedly and nothing seems to work. The only time they work is once or twice a week. Is there a universal way to toggle them off/on a certain amount of times to get them back into a normal mode? I have checked the manufactures instructions and they say nothing of the sort.

goose134 11-04-2007 12:37 AM

Photo cells use a technology that senses temperature. You may notice that your lights sometimes work better when it's cool outside, and provide the sensor with a greater temperature difference between ambient temp. and body temp. If power is interrupted, most of the sensors will revert to a test mode. You can do a couple of things. 1. Live with it. 2. Get a locking switch. A cheap fix is to use a two hole strap for 1/2" EMT over the existing switch. Good luck!

J. V. 11-04-2007 11:46 AM

Don't listen to the post above. Photocells sense light thus (PHOTO) cell. I have no idea where he got that incorrect information.

I also have been told about this switching B.S. to keep the lights off. It's not true. Or, I have never seen one in my 32 years in this business.

Photocells either work or they don't. Cover the eye of the photocell with some black tape or other means. Make sure no light can pass through. The light should come on. Give it several minutes. 5-10 minutes possibly. If the light comes on the photocell is GOOD.
Remove the tape or covering and the light should go off. Give it time again. If the light does not go out check the following:

1) Make sure the eye of the photo cell is pointing away from the pole or structure.
2) I think it should be pointed North....I'm not exactly sure. If you have the instructions it will tell you where it should be aimed.
3) Some photocells have a small metal slide. This slide allows you to cover part of the eye.
4) Check and see if there is any other light source that may be keeping the light off. Maybe another light, a neighbors light or a street light. If so aim it away from this other light source and cover a small part of the eye with the metal slide. This should correct the problem.
5) Remove the switch inside the house and connect the two wires from the switch together with a wire nut. Put a blank plate on the box. Now, only the photocell can operate the light.

Since they work sometimes, it will not be the wiring. But connections could be loose. Check them.

If the photocell does not work following the steps above it is probably bad.
Let me know the manufacturer and model number and I can get the information on the cell if needed.....John

goose134 11-04-2007 02:36 PM

Sorry, I thought you were talking about motion sensors. The information for motion sensors is accurate. However....

J. V. 11-05-2007 10:22 AM

goose, You are only partly correct regarding motion sensors. Not all sensors detect heat.
Google "Motion Sensors + Wickapedia" and you will see that there are several types and not just heat detecting.

Buddie, I am not picking on you. I am just wanting to open a dialog so we all can learn something here. Including myself........John

slakker 11-05-2007 12:58 PM

Just a thought, maybe a model number or brand will help determine what's going on...

I just bought a new light from Costco that's both Photocell and Motion sensor... It's very cool as it can be set in either mode, or in between. It does have the common feature of turning the light off-on within 10-15 seconds will keep it on permanently. Also there's a setting where the photocell turns on the lamp at dusk in dimmed mode and motion sensor will turn it up to bright mode when motion is detected...

goose134 11-05-2007 04:55 PM

No, I don't feel slighted. I guess I have heard so many people erroneously refer to one as the other that I just jumped out of the gate. As for the temp. sensing, I wasn't familiar with any other type. PIR is pretty common. My new rule: Don't drink and post.:)

kemerick 11-09-2007 10:15 PM

Sorry for the lag as I am trying like hell to finish off my remodel. I finally got a ladder out and checked the line with a voltmeter and the line is good. I put electrical tape over the sensor and no dice.

The light in question was from Lowes and is a Zenith 5403 according to the label on the back. I got fed up with them, went to Costco and got new ones that fired right up. They are motion sensing, by heat also and have dusk/dawn mode. They pretty get hot but they work... so I am gonna keep them.

If I had a trebuchet I would launch the others a mile away... :thumbup:

Thanks again for the help folks...

Stubbie 11-09-2007 10:36 PM

Hey did you ever get that crown angle cut for the kitchen cabinet?

I left a post on the carpentry forum thread you had and left a link to the tables for all the angles did you get those?


kemerick 11-10-2007 12:41 AM

Yeah man, I got those but I have been a total tard and moved onto my bathroom remodel skipping out on my kitchen in hopes of passing final inspection this coming week. The info you provided is right on. I will get back to the kitchen in a few days. Thank you very much for the great explanation.

This site rocks, I just need motivation to work on the pad after the 10 hour work day and playin' with my daughter with what little time I have left in the day.

Thanks again Stubbie...

J. V. 11-10-2007 11:29 AM

Try smokin a joint before posting. You will have to edit after you realize what you Add several beer's and it's better to wait until the next day.

disclaimer: this poster is not responsible for any remarks made in this thread.....LOL

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