Garage Lights - Photocell or Timer

whaas_5aNovember 8, 2012

Hello,

I'd like to get a photocell or timer for my garage lights.

I'm not sure what to go with but from what I've found there is a screw in photocell that has a 2, 5 and 8 hour timer. Sounds great but there could be issues with the sensitivity of the unit working properly.

I then found a digital timer I could hardwire at the switch location inside the garage.

My question is whether you believe the timer or photocell will leak more electricity and furthermore does either have any type of risk as far as overheating, life of the wiring, etc?

Thanks!

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tjdabomb

You talking for courtesy lighting, e.g. a light that goes on when you enter the garage so you don't have to flip a switch?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:49PM
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whaas_5a

Sorry they are the outside lights on an attached garage.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:40PM
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tjdabomb

I have many photocell light installations, they work flawless except when the wind blows and perhaps a leaf blows in front causing the lights to go on - not a big deal. I have had some for 10 years. They do need to be replaced sometimes, but, they are generally inexpensive so there really is no downside, imo.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 1:18AM
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whaas_5a

Thanks for the response.

If I go with a timer that is 15A are there any issues with that switch being on a 20A circuit?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 1:35PM
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alan_s_thefirst

Why not just use a motion sensing/photocell light fixture or the bulb inserts that convert existing fittings? They would seem to be the best of both worlds.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 2:34PM
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tjdabomb

Ya, I'd go the photocell route, a timer would waste electricity when lighting is not needed (like, when you are in the house already!!)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:08PM
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yosemitebill

"Ya, I'd go the photocell route, a timer would waste electricity when lighting is not needed (like, when you are in the house already!!)"

Say what?! A photocell would keep the lights on from dusk to dawn.

Some photocells may provide you to set for "x" amount of hours from dusk to turn-off i.e. 2-4-6-8 hours. Same as a timer but without the need to reset the "on" time through the year.

A motion sensor would simply turn on the lights when motion is detected and can usually be set to stay on for something like 1-5-10 minutes. That would be the most energy efficient of the three choices. Either the fixtures could be changed out to motion sensing units or a motion sensor could be mounted in a j-box and wired to control the existing fixtures.

The screw-in photocell units mentioned in the OP can be problematic when installed in lamp fixtures.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:52PM
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whaas_5a

Thanks for the additional info. I actually bought those Westec timer photocells. Althought some got them to work, the majority had issues.

I basically wanted the light to come on around 5pm (adjusting for sunset throughout the season) and have them turnoff around 10pm or so.

Would be nice to drive up to the house and have the lights already on.

Installing the timer tomorrow. Will update tomorrow!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 9:13PM
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tjdabomb

Whoopsie!!

I was referring to a photocell WITH motion detector, not just a photocell .... if that wasn't painfully obvious.

By using both a photocell and a motion detector built into a motion light, the system will turn on only when both (a) motion is detected by the main motion sensor AND (b) the photocell detects that less light is available (dusk). Then, when the photocell detects that more light is available (dawn), the light will not operate, even when motion is detected.

A photocell without a motion detector, IMO, is w waste of energy.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:00PM
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