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1315ss

06:24AM | 12/09/06
Member Since: 01/03/05
7 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
How can I wire exterior soffit lights to be controlled normally by a photocell, but if needed still be turned on or off with a switch. Ive seen it done but don't know how to wire it up. Also, I believe this application requires a special switch. Anyone know what it is?

Thanks in advance.

Billhart

03:56PM | 12/09/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
To be able to both turn the light off or on when the photocell wants it off then you need to use a Single Pole, Double Throw -CENTER OFF switch. SPDT - center off

Some time in the past I did find a Decor style switch that SPDT - center off and I think a standard style toggle switch. But they run about $50-60 and would have to go to an electrical supply house and even then probably a special order.

But you can get the metal handle bat switches that are SPDT, center off mounted in a metal cover plate. They are used on 2 speed whole house fans. High, OFF, and Low speed.

There are different ways to wire this. But I will show one with everything run to the switch.

Run the power to the switch box. Run a 2 wire cable to the light. With black to black and white to white.

Run a 3 wire cable from the switch box to the photocell. At the photocell black to black (hot), Red to red (hot switched from the photocell) and white to white (neutral).

Then at the switch box connect the all of the neutral (whites) (power, photocell and dlight).

Connect the black from the light to the switch common terminal. Connect one of the other two terminals to the photocell red (controlled by photocell). Connect the other terminal to the Power black and the black to the photocell.


1315ss

02:18AM | 12/12/06
Member Since: 01/03/05
7 lifetime posts
Thanks for the wiring help Bill. The install doesn't sound that bad at all. One more question. Is the cheaper toggle you mentioned the $3 device I found on Radio Shack's site? It appears to be rated for 120VAC but can't believe that a $3 toggle can/will do the same thing as a $60 special order SPDT/CO decor switch. Please advise.

Billhart

07:25AM | 12/12/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
What you need to look at is the how they are mounted, how rugged they are, how commections are made, and there current rating.

I don' tknow what size lights you are using but I would want to see a swtich rated at 6 amps, but 10-20 would be even better.

Now here are some examples and the pros/cons.

The ACE ones that I am showing are often available in the ACE hardware stores (and other hardware stores) in their specialty boxes.

And I would not be suprised to see the metal bat handle one available mounted in the metal coverplate for use with a whole house fan at either the hardware or home improvement stores, but I have not looked.

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1286640&cp=1254963.1259239&parentPage=family&searchId=1259239

This is the classic switch that is used for fans. It is easy to mount via the single round hole. UL approved and has screw terminals which are easy to connect the wires.

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1286622&cp=1254963.1259239&parentPage=family&searchId=1259239

This one is also UL rated and high current. But it requires a retangular cutout. Don't know what you metal working experiene is, but it is much harder hole to make.

Also the terminals require either soldering (which I don't recommend for anyone that does not do that regulary) or Faston terminals. The Faston terminals are commonly available at hardware stores (and Radio Shack). But they do require a crimper tool.

If you go that way I recommend that you get a short pieces of stranded wire to make the end connections.

And this looks a little more residential and you could paint the metal coverplate to make it match.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062515&cp=2032058.2032230.2032278&allCount=69&fbn=Type%2FSPDT&f=PAD%2FProduct+Type%2FSPDT&fbc=1&parentPage=family

That will work. But I don't see a UL approval. And it looks like you can only solder to the terminals. And I can't really say, but it does not seem as rugged.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062486&cp=2032058.2032230.2032278&allCount=69&fbn=Type%2FSPDT&f=PAD%2FProduct+Type%2FSPDT&fbc=1&parentPage=family

This style are often very good switches and used a lot in electronics. But I can't see how you can connect #14 or #12 wire to it.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062537&cp=2032058.2032230.2032278&allCount=69&fbn=Type%2FDPDT&f=PAD%2FProduct+Type%2FDPDT&fbc=1&parentPage=family

This will work and it has screw terminals. It is DPDT, just ignore the terminals on one side.

Don't forget that you want to be able to ground the metal coverplate. Modern "wall" toggle switches come with ground connection so taht if a metal cover plate is used it will be grounded.

But in this case you will be using a blank metal coverplate and then attaching the swtich.

You will either need to metal box (which is grounded) or drill a hole and use a screw, nut, and wire with a ring terminal to ground the cover plate.

Also you have a large number of wires so use a large box. Or even a 4x4 square with a single gange mud ring.

1315ss

12:21PM | 12/12/06
Member Since: 01/03/05
7 lifetime posts
Bill,

Again thanks. Why couldn't this toggle

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1286640&cp=1254963.1259239&parentPage=family&searchId=1259239

be monted in either a metal backbox gronded via green-screw, or a plastic backbox with the ground wires bugged together? Also, regardless of the backbox material could this toggle be dressed out using a plastic cover plate with a circular center hole akin to a CATV jack cover plate?

Mike

Billhart

12:57PM | 12/12/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
The idea is to get the metal parts of the switch (bat handle and mounting shank) along with the metal cover, if used.

I don't know of anyway of doing that with that type of switch without using a metal plate. Adn the only way to ground the metal plate is to either use a grounded metal box or a attach a ground wire to the metal cover.

If I though that the plastic cover was strong enough I would sugest using one along with the other Ace switch, the all plastic snap in siwtch. But I don't think that it is strong enough. Not for a base for a switch. A cable/phone jack does not have much force on it and connections are only made remove maybe once every 5 years.

I though about trying to combine a plast plate with the metal. It might work, but I think that tyring to get the radius to match up on the edge and have the right size that they won't "lay right" when mounted.

That is why I suggested lightly sanding, maybe #200-300 grit to give the paint a grip. Then painting it.

1315ss

03:17AM | 12/16/06
Member Since: 01/03/05
7 lifetime posts
Bill (or anyone else),

Can this control scenario work using three-way switching and a photocell? We've only covered single switching. If so, devices required and wiring connections assistance would be welcomed.

Thanks.

Mike

Billhart

07:08AM | 12/16/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
Well you could do as I said with the SPDT, CO switch, but instead of running it to the light run it as the power into a pair of 3 way switches and then the light.

But you might want to look at using X-10 (and it variants). Smarthome.com has a lot of products.

I am not sure what they have interms of photocell controlls, but they do have motion sensor controls that send on/off commands.

And you could setup a program able timer to run the times that a photocell would.

And you can play all kinds of games such as setting the switches on on code and the lights on another. Then use a programed controller that would monitor the changes in switch position and then based on other information determine if it should send a light on or off conmand.

1315ss

05:44PM | 12/17/06
Member Since: 01/03/05
7 lifetime posts
Bill,

So the hot leg coming from the SPDT/CO would be the power feed to one of the 3-ways correct? And then the 3-ways would be wired as they normally would get wired? Where's the photocell in the loop, how is it fed and what does it feed?

Mike

Billhart

07:18PM | 12/17/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
Go back where I descrive the wiring for the photocell and SPDT, CO.

The two inputs to that switch will be a Hot and the switched hot from the photocell.

So, depending on the position of the switch the common will be HOT, OFF, Photocell controlled.

That "controlled hot" will then feed the common to the first of the 2 3-ways switches.
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