Outdoor Wall Light with Dusk to Dawn Photocell

shannonplus2March 22, 2010

I currently have a wall lamp on a patio that has a photocell for automatic dusk to dawn lighting. There is no brand name on the lamp. It is working fine, but the light is not bright enough. The lamp has a 60 watt maximum, and I have a 14 watt cfl bulb in it. I've switched out the bulb on occasion for a 60 watt incandescent, and that is brighter, but still not bright enough. I want a 75 watt or 100 watt light (22+ in cfl wattage). I have read several reviews of outdoor wall lamps with photocells, and many of them are bad. Can someone recommend a good manufacturer of this kind of outdoor wall lamp? I want a simple design, not a fancy one, but I am willing to pay more for quality and reliability.

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In most cases a factory assembled photocell controlled light fixture shouldn't be used with a CF, because the controller never really turns the light on 100%. It also mucks about with the waveform of the AC. This can cause CFs to overheat and fail, sometimes in a rather dramatic manner.

If the fixture is suited to use with fluorescent (CF) loads, this will be stated in the installation instructions.

Your safest solution will probably be to select a good quality conventional fixture you like, and power it from a fluorescent-compatible (hard contact) photocell in a separate box.

The photocell box can be located high on the outside wall, or even on another wall of the house (best if it faces north), so it's not too obtrusive.

A photocell with suitable capacity can power more than one fixture if you like.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:56PM
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Hi Shannon,

I've experienced the same problem. My fixture is also 60 watt max but my electrician told me that the photo cell drops the current to the lamp and that is why an ordinary 60 watt bulb is not as bright. I switched to 75 watt and now it is the brightness of a 60 watt (have had no problems with overheating).
And davidr is right. The CFL's do not work well with the photocell, then again they don't work properly outside period.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 4:36PM
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requirement of photocell based street lighting ON and OFF control

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 2:05AM
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Many of the photocell sensors use a Triac to switch the light on and off (the same thing as a conventional dimmer).

Even when fully on the Triac still drops a small voltage and distorts the voltage and current waveforms.

If you can find a CFL that is rated to operate on a conventional Triac dimmer it should work.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 7:18AM
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