Motion Sensor Light for Front Entrance

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My dad asked me to replace the light next to his front door with a motion sensing unit. He bought a stock fixture from HD with the sensor built into the fixture. There is no way to aim the sensor, it just points straight out from the front of the fixture.
The instructions say that the sensor will work better if the "heat source" moves across the coverage area as opposed to straight towards it. They sure got that right!
The approach to their front door is straight up a ~40' walkway from the sidewalk. Even set at the highest sensitivity, which should allow for a ~30' range, the light doesn't come on until the person is right at the stoop, ready to lift their leg onto the first step.
However, if you walk across the yard the light will come on anywhere in the 5' to 30'+ range. In fact, 1 out 3 cars going down the street activate the light.
Unfortunately, "across the coverage area" is not how they (or anyone else) would approach their front door.
What kind of fixture/sensor does he need so that it will pick up people walking straight towards it?
BTW, it's an old brick house with a shallow box for the fixture cut into the brick. A one-for-one swap is easy, but mounting a separate sensor someplace else and running wires back to the fixture would be a pain. I'd really prefer something built into the fixture if possible.
Thanks!
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One alternative is to use X10. These are electrical products that communicate via the existing house wiring. They have a motion sensor that is wireless, operates on batteries, and can be mounted outdoors anywhere. So, you could mount it so that people will walk across in front of it as they come up the sidewalk.
The wireless unit transmits a signal that is received by a small module that you plug in to any nearby AC outlet in the house. That module puts the communication signal on the AC house wiring, where it should be able to be picked up by any X10 device that is connected to the AC wiring anywhere in the house.
So, the next part you need is an X10 wall switch. It replaces a standard wall switch and can be turned on/off manually like a regular switch, or via the X10 AC signals.
So, when someone walks by, the wireless sends the turn-on signal to the wireless receiver. The receiver puts the signal on the AC line and the switch receives it and turns the light on.
The motion sensor also has a light sensor, so it can be programmed to always turn the light on at dusk, or to only turn it on after dusk if motion is detected, etc. You can also program how long it stays on after motion is sensed.
The modules are cheap and can be found for under $10 on Ebay. I put one in for a friend recently similar to what you want to do. The motion sensor is located on the outside garage wall, so when you drive up, it turns on the 3 lights outside the garage. The same sensor also sends a dusk signal to a switch that works the front door lights on the other side of the house. It turns those lightsm which are CFL on at dusk and off at dawn.
Some caveats:
X10 is not always 100% reliable, but I've used it for this kind of application and it works fine. Also the outdoor module probably has a life of a couple years, but then they only cost $10 and you can even use double sided velcro tape to attache them.
Any of the X10 modules will work with incandescent bulbs. If you want to use CFL, you need to get a module that says it will work with any loads. For example, they have modules that are specd for appliances, so they have a relay inside, as opposed to electronic switching and will work with CFL.
As with any motion sensor, you can get false turn-on from moving shrubs, etc.
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On Sep 7, 11:11 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Thanks. I'll look into it.
The fixture dad bought has all of the dusk-to-dawn, timer, etc. features that you mentioned, which is what he wanted, so that's good.
re: "The next part you need is an X10 wall switch...when someone walks by, the wireless sends the turn-on signal to the wireless receiver. The receiver puts the signal on the AC line and the switch receives it and turns the light on."
I assume the switch fits in a standard box, right? The current switch setup is 2 switches in one box: A STSP switch for the outside light and a 3-way switch for a switched outlet. Best case is both switches fit in the existing box - and still match. Is that doable - barring any "this is an old house" - issues?
One more question: With most motion detector set-ups, you can override the sensor by toggling the switch within 3 seconds to force the light to be on all the time. Does it work the same way with the x10 switches? Can you turn the light on constantly with a toggle and then reset it to motion-sense with another toggle?
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wrote:

<Thanks. I'll look into it.
The fixture dad bought has all of the dusk-to-dawn, timer, etc. features that you mentioned, which is what he wanted, so that's good.
re: "The next part you need is an X10 wall switch...when someone walks by, the wireless sends the turn-on signal to the wireless receiver. The receiver puts the signal on the AC line and the switch receives it and turns the light on."
I assume the switch fits in a standard box, right? The current switch setup is 2 switches in one box: A STSP switch for the outside light and a 3-way switch for a switched outlet. Best case is both switches fit in the existing box - and still match. Is that doable - barring any "this is an old house" - issues?>
I think you're best served by not using X-10 - and this advice comes from someone who owns every piece of X-10 gear ever made and uses it daily (along with Jeff Volp's XTB booster - a must for any X-10 setup). It's overkill for this app and is likely to introduce more problems than it solves. One thing you might find is that there's no neutral at the switch - although the presence of a nearby switched outlet means there's probably one nearby. It's also important if you're going to use CFL bulbs.
CFL's don't play nice with X-10 (as well as a lot of other devices that draw power from 110VAC line). If you intend on using them, beware that many take a long time to warm up and are basically unsuitable for walkway lighting. Some CFl's even relight themselves when you turn them off under X-10 control - very annoying! By the time the bulb comes up to max illumination, you're long past the sensor and the light.
I'd pigtail the unit you have with some lamp cord to see if it works with CFLs before going through the hassle of mounting it. If the lights are going to be on for a few hours, it would pay to use CFLs. If the lights will be strictly motion sensor operated, then normal floods would be the choice of bulb.
<One more question: With most motion detector set-ups, you can override the sensor by toggling the switch within 3 seconds to force the light to be on all the time. Does it work the same way with the x10 switches? Can you turn the light on constantly with a toggle and then reset it to motion-sense with another toggle?>
Ha. Not that I know of, but there's always something new under the sun. X-10 just requires too many pieces to do what a dedicated motion sensor light does. I have a full set of X-10 motion detector floodlights sitting in a box in the attic because they were not as easy to use as dedicated motion detector floods. I use dedicated, self-contained units for the driveway fitted with tungsten floods, but I also have CFL fixtures that are X-10 controlled that I had to run new wire to get them to function correctly. None of my circa 1940 house's built-in fixtures have neutral wires and CFLs just flash away like strobe lights in such circuits with X-10 switches. X-10 trickles a tiny bit of current through tungsten filament bulbs to operate. CFL don't pass that trickle current - they just absorb it until enough builds up to flash the lamp. Very annoying. Sometimes, the flashing is enough to activate the X-10 "current sense" switching and the light comes back on several seconds after you turn it off.
It could be that your units will be mounted so that they really will detect motion where you want it detected, but units that allow you to swivel the detector head are much better. Read the instructions carefully regarding neutral connections. I think you're going to be good to go because the switched out *should* require a neutral in the same gang box, but only your tester knows for sure. Beware that lots of tyro electricians mistakenly use a ground wire when they should be using a neutral - your box may be that way - it's a sin I've seen too many times to count.
-- Bobby G.
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Yes, it is the same size as a regular single pole switch.

Yes, but the switches won't match. The X10 uses a push button switch to turn the light on and off. I don't find it to big a big deal though. You can find pics of them on Ebay or Smarthome, etc.

I don't see why it's overkill if it directly solves the problem by securing one small motion detector to the side of the house, plugging in a wireless receiver in any nearby outlet in the house, and replacing one wall switch.

The neutral is only necessary if you want to use CFL lights. The standard X10 wall switch doesn't require a neutral. And since CFLs are not that useful for motion activated lights, this is probably a moot point. If you want to use CFLs then you need the other X10 switch that does use a neutral and has a relay so it will work any load.

Which is why not having a neutral likely isn't an issue.

I've only seen this happen when you use the wrong X10 switch, ie the one with no neutral. Then the CFL will partially light all the time because that switch relies on a small current flowing in the circuit to power the X10 switch electronics.

Yep
Of course you can. The X10 wall switch functions EXACTLY like the existing switch for manual use. Push the button, the light turns on. Push it again, the light turns off. No need to do any special sequencing. You still have a manual switch there like before that also responds to the X10 commands.


Yeah, it requires a whopping 3 items: wireless motion sensor that you mount where you want it outside, wireless receiver that plugs in an outlet, and a switch that replaces the existing light switch. All that probably cost $25 and can be installed in 30 mins. And it gives him the freedom to mount the motion sensor exactly where he wants it. Compare that to replacing one or two outside fixtures and it seems about the same to me in effort, but a lot less in cost. Plus you can use any style outside fixtures you want, the existing ones or any new ones. You're not limited to the models that come with motion sensors built-in.
 >I have a full set of X-10 motion detector floodlights sitting

That's because you used the WRONG X10 wall switch. The one with a neutral solves that problem. As I described in my post, I have a very similar settup and it works perfectly with two CFLs that are in the original front door fixtures. We used CFLs because they are on from dusk till dawn. But they are activated by the X10 motion sensor unit that is located by the garage. That one motion detector turns on the incandescent garage lights when motion is detected and also turns on the front door lights at dusk.

Detectors are always better at detecting motion across their path instead of coming toward them. That is the problem Derby has. I don't see how swiveling the sensors mounted on the lights at the door is going to solve his problem of a straight in sidewalk approach.
 Read the instructions carefully regarding

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On Wed, 08 Sep 2010 08:10:00 -0700, trader4 wrote:

ALL X10 switches, relay or not will pass current through the load at all times. This can partially light the CFL.
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wrote:

The relay wont partialy pass power at all when its not triggered, I have 3, x10 outdoor motion sensors, the old style that hard mount and they pass no power my 10 outdoor cfl lights dont flicker at all, I have purchased maybe 10, x10 sensors in 20 years. The interior modules do pass some power that allows flickering.
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On Wed, 08 Sep 2010 11:02:05 -0700, ransley wrote:

No. They add resistors to partially bypass the relay. This may be just to enable the local control "feature", but that bypass exists in receptacle modules which don't have local control.

Those are unusual modules. Maybe they did make some like that. I have a lot of different modules all of which pass current.

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wrote:

<The relay wont partialy pass power at all when its not triggered, I have 3, x10 outdoor motion sensors, the old style that hard mount and they pass no power my 10 outdoor cfl lights dont flicker at all, I have purchased maybe 10, x10 sensors in 20 years. The interior modules do pass some power that allows flickering.>
The floodlights are really an exception and don't have current sensing (and thus trickling) built-in. That's because they are not the kind of lights that would ever be operated "locally" which is X-10's term for using the lamp's built-in switch to "tell" the X-10 module (by the interruption in trickle current flow) that the user has toggled the lamp switch and to turn on the module. I have not tried them with CFLs, but I will be doing that shortly.
-- Bobby G.
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wrote:

Nonsense. The switches that have a neutral use that for the power to the X10 switch electronics. The relay is a simple mechanical one and operates as a switch. Please explain how current flows through an open mechanical relay.

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On Sep 8, 1:55 pm, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I am sure the units he was talking about don't use a mechanical relay, they use electronic switches that do have some leakage.
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[snip]

They DO use mechanical relays.
Here is a schematic of the appliance module: http:// www.nysaes.cornell.edu/cc/staff/pool/homeauto/am486.html Note that internal module ground is connected to the hot side of the power, and the point marked "A" supplies power to the load regardless of the relay.
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Mark Lloyd wrote:

Interesting to see circuits for devices. Thanks.
I have never played with X10. From the thread, local control is an on/off push button on the unit. There is a jumper to disable it, but I don't see the pushbutton contacts.
Any idea what "momentary operation" is or what "local current sense" is for?
And any idea what fused "TNR" in the upper left corner is?
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On Thu, 09 Sep 2010 10:20:16 -0500, bud-- wrote:
[snip]

I haven't used "momentary operation" but would expect its what it says. When turned on, the device is turned off immediately afterward.
"local current sense" is how "local control" works. It senses the operation of the controlled device's own switch. Turn if off and then on and the module turns on.

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[snip]

It doesn't. It flows AROUND the relay using a resistor in the module. This might have been put there to support the module's "local control" feature (which only half works. You can't turn the device off that way without disabling remote control). I don't know why it's in the receptacle module (no local control). It still is.

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On Sep 8, 11:10 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

trader4,
Thanks for the all the info on x10. It certainly seems like the way to go.
re: "it requires a whopping 3 items: wireless motion sensor that you mount where you want it outside, wireless receiver that plugs in an outlet, and a switch that replaces the existing light switch"
That said, it must be me, but I can't find "the wireless receiver that plugs into an outlet" on ebay. The other 2 items were easy to find.
I found all sorts of "appliance modules" that have a receptacle included, but that's not what I'm looking for is it?
If I search ebay for "x10 wireless receiver" all the hits I get are for audio and video stuff
Where do I find the "x10 wireless receiver" that talks to the x10 switch?
Thanks again!
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On 9/9/2010 4:19 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

There only seems to be one manufacturer (different names on them but they all look identical) and I tried them in the past and they were useless because the receivers had extremely poor performance.
http://www.safemart.com/Controller-Accessories/X-10-Wireless-Base-Receiver-X10-PAT01.htm?utm_source=gbase
I gave up on them and bought a high gain unit that has much better performance. I think it was ~ $120. Not home at the moment to check for a part number but I think one of the reasons it works a lot better is that it comes with ~ 10 feet of coax to be able to locate the antenna away from the module.

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On Thu, 09 Sep 2010 13:19:30 -0700, DerbyDad03 wrote:

They call that module a "transceiver" . The models I have are RR501 and TM751.Both have built-in appliance modules.
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wrote:

Yes. Sorry for the confusion when I called it a wireless receiver. It's been a while since I bought one. The one I used is the TM751. And as Mark points out, it has a receptacle at the bottom that you can plug something into that you want to control as well. When it receives the signal from the wireless motion sensor, it turns on or off the outlet and sends the X10 signal down the AC line.

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On Sep 10, 8:42 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

re: "Sorry for the confusion when I called it a wireless receiver"
No problem, but I'm still just a tad confused by the different terms used.
I was looking at the manual for a 3 way-switch WS4777 found at:
ftp://ftp.x10.com/pub/manuals/ws4777-is.pdf
They use the following lines:
• Set the House Code dial to the same letter (A thru P) that you set on your X10 controller(s). • Set the Unit Code dial to an unused code (1 - 16) which can be controlled from any X10 controller.
Are the RR501 and TM751 "Transceivers" also known as "Controllers"?
One last question (I doubt it!)
I plan to play with X10 at my house before buying anything for my Dad who lives 300 miles away.
I currently have a spot light with a motion sensor on a 3 way switch. The motion sensor works fine for the driveway as you approach from the front, but I've always wanted to be able to turn it on as I walk up the dark side of the house from behind it. The side path is not within the coverage area of the current sensor, but the light would illuminate the steps up to the driveway at the end of the path.
So it sounds like a X10 remote sensor on the side of the house could be used to control that light. So here's the question:
Can I retain the current motion sensor that is wired into the fixture for the driveway approach or do I need to disable that one and install a X10 sensor for the front of the house also?
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