Wall-mounted motion sensor light question/idea.

I have been trying for a while now to figure out a wall-mounted outdoor light that looks the way I want it to look, and that does what I want it to do. And, since I cannot seem to find the light that has all the features that I want (and don't want), I have an idea of how I may be able to configure something that will work.
Here what I want and don't want:
I want a wall-mounted outdoor light looks okay as a front porch light and that is not a flood light type of light. It will be the outdoor front porch light above the door on a two-unit apartment building that I rent out. I want the tenants to be able to turn the light on or off as they choose, but if it is turned on or left turned on, I want it to be a dusk-to-dawn light that will go on at dusk and off at dawn. But, if it is turned off, or left turned off, I want it to work as a motion sensor light that will automatically come on if someone approaches the front door when it is dark out.
I know there are wall-mounted outdoor lights that are supposed have these features, but all of them that I have found so far that combine the dusk-to-dawn feature with a motion sensing feature are "programmed" lights -- which means for the occupants to turn these features on and off, they have to do some gyrations like flip the switch off for 1 second and then back on, etc. It's too complicated and no one can figure out what the settings on the light really are. That might work in a house that I own and live in myself because I can eventually learn how to use it and make sure I set it the way I want it. But, with a house occupied by others, that won't work.
Here's my idea about how I may be able to get what I want and I am wondering if this will work:
1) I buy a light that looks the way that I want it to look and that is just a dusk-to-dawn light without the motion sensing feature. I've seen an inexpensive one at Lowes and/or Home Depot that is wall-mounted, that is strictly dusk-to-dawn with no motion sensing features, and which uses a plug-in type fluorescent bulb that will last a long time, uses much less electricity, and the bulb is not compatible with indoor lights so tenants won't have a tendency to steal the outside bulb to put in one of their indoor lights when their inside light bulb goes out. With this light, when the switch is on, the light is on, and when the switch is off, the light is off -- except that with the switch on, the light will only operate from dusk to dawn, so the light will not be on all day long and look stupid.
2) I buy a motion sensor and wire it so that it is connected across the same switch that controls the dusk-to-dawn light. So, when the light switch is on, the light will be on (from dusk to dawn) and the motion sensor will have no impact on the circuit because the switch circuit is already closed. But, when the switch is off, and the switch circuit is open, if someone walks by the motion sensor it will close the circuit and the light will come on (as long as it is dark outside due to the dusk-to-dawn feature of the light itself).
Will this work? I don't really know how a motion sensor device is wired and whether it can be wired to be in parallel with the light switch so that EITHER the light switch OR the motion sensor will close the circuit to make the light come on. But, it seems like it would work as far as I can tell.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Beta-32 wrote:

I suspect that you are correct, but really the only way to try it is to get a motion sensor and a photocell and have at it. You'll have to pull a 3 conductor cable out to the light so you will also have an always hot feed for the motion sensor; at least unless the existing fixture is not wired with a switch leg.
Actually I would be interested to hear how you make out with this experiment because I've thought of doing something similar myself - say someone is supposed to come over so you flip the porch light on - it's already light when you leave for work the next morning so you don't notice it's on - light stays on for days. Likewise if you don't plan to be out after dark so you don't turn on the lightbut are delayed a motion sensor would be nice so you can find the keyhole without fumbling.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 12/13/2008 5:44 PM Beta-32 spake thus:

[snip]
I know what you're trying to do. I think you can do it, but not quite the way you had described. Here's what I'd do.
(I have wired outdoor lights using separate remote motion sensors, which are easily available and cheap at places such as Home Despot, so I have some experience with this setup.)
What a guy would want to do is to use a so-called "3-way" switch to switch between the dawn-to-dusk and motion-sensor functions for the light.
Since the motion detector requires power, you wire it so that it always receives power to its black wire. You take the switched leg of the motion sensor (red, I believe) and wire it to one contact on the 3-way switch. The other contact of the 3-way switch just goes to power. The common terminal of the 3-way switch goes to the light. (And, of course, all neutrals [white] are wired together.)
This way, when the switch is in one position, it receives power from the motion sensor *when motion has been sensed*. In the other position, it always receives power, so it does its usual thing (come on at dusk, go off at dawn).
Would require experimentation, of course, to see, for instance, whether the motion-detected switching interferes with the dawn-to-dusk logic. But in theory, it should work.
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks. As soon as anyone says "3-way switch" to me, my eyes glaze over. I can never figure out anythig that has to do with 3-way switches, a red wire in a circuit, etc. So, what you wrote is probably correct, but I am not sure if I am brave enough to give it a try. I wasn't even thinking about the fact that the motion sensor needs to always be powered in order to work (duh), so I don't know what that will mean in terms of my idea.
David Nebenzahl wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 12/14/2008 8:57 AM Beta-32 spake thus:

Ah, the dreaded MEGO syndrome. I know what you're talking about.
I went ahead and drew a schematic diagram of the circuit for you:
http://www.geocities.com/bonezphoto/misc/Switchable-motion-detector-light.gif
Following typical conventions, crossing wires with a dot are electrically connected, those without a dot aren't. Boxes represent junction boxes and everything that goes inside them. The cable between motion detector and switch needs 3 conductors (white/black/red) plus ground; all others are regular 2-conductor (black/white). Diagram assumes power comes into the box with the motion detector; if it comes in elsewhere, circuit needs to be changed to suit.
You should be able to figure this out, I hope.
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wow, thanks again. That's a lot of work that you did. I appreciate it. I think I can follow the diagram, so I'll probably end up giving that a try and seeing what happens. I may not get to it for about a week or so, but I'll post back what happens.
David Nebenzahl wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

For the cost of operating a flourescent 15 watt?, the increase in liability, accident, theft, etc, or possibly code violation since its a rental and one more thing you forgot flourescent take a long time to warm when cold and cycling is the hardest on them, its not worth the trouble. Also some sensors dont handle flourescents well, but try it if you wish. A nine watt cfl in a sealed light wont get stolen, and costs me 70 cents a month to operate 12 hrs a day and lasts years, cycle it on a motion sensor it might last one year, also a tenant wont turn it off, why should he unles you havnt figured, you must pay him.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

First, I would do some more looking, because I would think you could find what you want, which is a fixture where the features are set with a couple of switches, not via flip switch programming. Try going to a good store that sells lighting fixtures or an electrical supply house.
Second, I have halogen security lights that I bought at HD. They do exactly what you want, plus more and the features are set via dip switches. Now, they are not the style you want for a front door light, but I have seen the motion sensor/electric eye/smarts widget sold at HD as a seperate item. It's a small widget with std electrical conduit thread and wires coming out, so it would be easy to mount and use. With that you don't have to parallel anything, just use it as is.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I have definitely been doing a lot of looking -- actually for several months now. That's partly how I found out that the all-in-one-features porch lights suck. I have tried two different models at two different locations and they take a degree in rocket science to operate (switch this on then off for one second, then do this, then it resets to that, etc. etc).
About the HD halogen security light -- I know the one you mean. And, as far as I can tell, it does exactly what I want. I am probably going to be getting that one for two different parking areas that require that type of security lighting. But, that's what bugs me about this whole process. I don't want a 50-100 watt Halogen security light for a wall-mounted front porch light, and I wish the features of that 50-100 watt Halogen security light were available in a porch light -- ideally one with a built-in CFL bulb, but one with a regular screw-in bulb socket would be okay.
snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
ransley wrote:

Oops, my mistake. I meant a CFL in a sealed light (I think the one I saw is 9 watts or 13 watts or something like that), not a flourescent light.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wow. That's a lot to go through for some tenants who will probably stiff you for the last months rent. I give mine a 40-watt bulb in a cheap fixture. They want light, they turn it on. They leave it on, they pay the bill. I usually have to get a new fixture every couple years ($5).
SGT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I am in favor of, "They want light, they trun it on". But, I also want the light to come on whenever anyone approaches the front door -- for security and safety reasons. I don't want someone to slip, trip, or fall simply because it was too dark near the front door due to the light not being left on by the tenant.
SteveT wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.