Looking for a Programmable Post Light Control

cwwozniak

Chuck
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I have a device similar to the one in the link to control an outdoor post light by my driveway. I am looking for one with programmable or adjustable sensitivity.

https://www.amazon.com/Solo-Lights-SPC-688-Automatic-Photocell/dp/B0752T8J6X

The few that I have tried over the years all seem to turn on before it gets really dark out. My current one is about 6 years old has a slightly yellowed lens and has gotten worse. It turns on at least two hours before official sunset and doesn't turn off until the sun is way above the horizon. The sensor is pointing roughly due east at an angle across the street. The lamp is an 18 watt LED screw-in bulb. I don't have room to properly fit a screw-in control that goes between the bulb and the socket.

There is a light switch inside controlling the light. I am hoping to find a photo control that can fit in the post and can maybe be programmed to remember a setting by flipping the power on and off in a given pattern at the desired darkness level. One with an adjusting screw might work if there is a way to adjust it while installed in the post.
 

Drabdr

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Hey Chuck! I'm sorry I'm just seeing this. Are you still looking for something?
I'm assuming the outside light is 120 VAC

The photoelectric eye you want to replace, is it mounted in a box or something?

The switch inside the house... is that the only thing that switch operates? I'm wondering if...keeping options open, you might could install something in place of the switch.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/myTouch...VR9bACh1FgQYTEAQYAiABEgJ0DfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

That might give you the control you need. Anything you install outside has to be able to handle the weather and elements.
 

cwwozniak

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The current photocell system mounts through about a 1/2 inch diameter hole in the side of about an 8-inch length of light post. The bottom is flared to fit the top of the original post and the light fixture mounts on top of the extension.

The inside switch does only control the post light. I had previously considered a straight programmable timer as in your link to replace the switch. I dismissed that idea as I would need to be changing the settings every 1-2 months to adjust for changes in sunset and sunrise times throughout the year. I also looked into some timers that included a yearly calendar. You enter your latitude and it would adjust for sunset every day. The problem with that was that I considered meteorological sunset on a sunny day still too bright to turn on the light and sunrise being too bright before shutting off. I guess I am looking for a dusk to dawn control rather than a sunset to sunrise control.

Years ago, one of my previous controls had an emergency flash feature. It would continuously flash the controlled light on and off if the power was quickly turned off and on a given number of times. The idea was to allow emergency responders to quickly find the home at night when a resident had an emergency and manually triggered the flashing mode. I was hoping to find a control with a programmable sensitivity that worked in a similar manner. The homeowner waits until the desired low light level is reached, quickly toggles the inside switch a few times, and the control would store the brightness reading internally for all future use. The other option might be to use a smaller photocell and add a weather-tight trimmer potentiometer's slotted shaft in the same size mounting tube.

I ordered a different style of photocontrol that has a mechanical shutter to adjust the sensitivity. I should have it by this weekend and may have time to install it, weather permitting. I will report back my results once it is installed and tested for 2-3 evenings.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XVSQX6/
 

cwwozniak

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I think I found out why my detector may not have any decent calibrated light level and why it may have changed over time. I found a brochure for one such device. I had thought the photocell was part of an electronic circuit with a triac or relay. It consists of a bimetal contact strip with a heating element in series with a photocell across the AC mains. When enough light hits the cell, it allows enough current through the heater to open the contacts.

https://www.grainger.com/ec/pdf/Intermatic-K4200-Series-Spec-Sheet.pdf
 

cwwozniak

Chuck
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Ok... your post got me thinking... what about an adjustable photo eye?
I purchased one in the link below, which I believe works on the same principle as the one in your link. The adjustment is a mechanical shutter that you can slide to control how much light is blocked by the photocell. The problem is that the threaded portion is too large for the hole in the post. The 1/2 inch demension mentioned in the product descriptions is based on a threaded 1/2 inch steel pipe, which has a outside diameter of 0.870 inches. The old control has a 3/8 inch pipe thread, which clears a 0.675 inch diameter hole. I am planning to get a plumping adapter with a 1/2" female thread on one end and a 3/8" male thread on the other end.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XVSQX6
 

Drabdr

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Chuck, how easy is it to change the fitting in the pole from 3/8 to 1/2? Putting an adapter on it will extend it out and may get hit/bumped too often.

you could also put a 3/8 90, run it up a bit higher on the pole to get it out of the way if needed.
 

cwwozniak

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I could not find a suitable adapter at my local and well-stocked hardware store or at a couple of large home improvement stores. I ended up ordering one of these through Amazon and awaiting delivery.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B013RXHLV2

It may actually be better than mounting the control directly to the post. Doing so would not allow the head to swivel the full 90 degrees to be parallel with the post. The base of the control head would hit the post before getting to 90 degrees. There is an address sign bracket attached to the post a bit below the current control location and the post is inside of a flowerbed. Very little chance of hitting the new control by accident.
 

zx10guy

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Late to the party. But I chose to use one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-RPLS730B1000-7-Day-Programmable-Switch/dp/B004SOZHXY

While it doesn't have the convenience of turning on and off the light based on available outdoor ambient lighting, it provides lots of flexibility to program different activation profiles. I have one model where you can set it for random operation where the switch will turn on and off the light at a more random time around the time you program for the light to turn on and off. This is to simulate someone being home.
 

cwwozniak

Chuck
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Thank you for taking time to try to find a solution for me. My issue with that kind of timer would be that I would be needing to adjust the on and off times every 3-5 weeks to match the ever-changing dusk and dawn times. I had thought I found my solution withn a Leviton timer that adjusted daily for local sunset and sunrise times. It also allowed you to add or subtract from the sunset and sunrise times in one minute increments to up to something like three hours.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B003AIKQZ8

Then I read the user guide and watched a couple of instructional videos. I discovered that there is only one time adjustment setting. I could add 30 minutes so that the light would come on the desired 30 minutes after the calculated sunset, but then the light would also stay on 30 minutes beyond the calculated sunrise.
 

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