Latest Discussions : Electrical & Lighting

1315ss

06:24AM | 12/09/06
Member Since: 01/03/05
7 lifetime posts
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.

jherde

05:53PM | 12/31/06
Member Since: 12/30/06
4 lifetime posts
I realize it's been a while since the original post. But why not use a 3-way switch? Using a standard 3 wire photocell switch, connect the black wire from the light to the common on the 3-way switch. Connect the Red wire from the photocell to one of the 'traveler' connections on the 3-way. Connect a piece of black wire to the other 'traveler' connection on the 3-way switch. Make a 3 wire connection with the black wires from the 3-way, photocell and supply. Make another 3 wire connection with the white wires from the light, photocell and supply. Flip the switch one way and the photocell has control (AUTO). Flip the switch the other way and the light is ON 24/7 (MANuel). Note that the photocell is still active. It just doesn't controll anything.

To also turn the light OFF 24/7, add a Standard switch between the black supply and the other black wires described above. The Standard switch turns the whole thing ON/OFF. The 3-way switch set it for Auto/Manual. Be sure to label the switches as ON/OFF and AUTO/MAN. The ON/OFF switch is ON if the light comes on with the 3-way switch in one or both positions. In daylight, the AUTO/MAN is MAN if the light is ON when the ON/OFF switch is ON.

1315ss

11:17AM | 01/02/07
Member Since: 01/03/05
7 lifetime posts
jherde,

Does this scenario use one 3-way switch or does it use two 3-ways? I'd need it to use two 3-ways at remote door locations. If so what wires get connected to each of the 3-way terminals?

Mike

jherde

03:58PM | 01/24/07
Member Since: 12/30/06
4 lifetime posts
My previous suggestion uses only one switching point. It uses a 3-way switch to connect the light to either a photo cell or directly to the supply. For multiple locations, you could easily add any number of 4-way switches for other locations. Simply remove the 'traveler' wires from the 3-way and connect them to one side of the 4-way. Now you can connect the other side of the 4-way back to the the travelers on the 3-way. The 4-way will reverse the functions of the 3-way. You now have two wires (and a ground,) running between the 4-way and the 3-way. You can add more 4-way switches in the series as you need as long as you connect the last one back to the 3-way.

The problem with multiple switches is going to be determining if the light is connected to the photo sensor or to the supply. This can only be checked durring daylight. If you turn the light on durring the day, and don't turn it back to the photo sensor before the photo sensor turns on at dusk, you can't tell the difference. So you need to remember to switch it back or check it the next day.

I seem to remember a rotary timer wall switch that may have worked as a 3-way switch. I may even have one. But I don't remember if there was a 4-way timer switch. But these may only muddy the waters.

The only way I know to have multiple locations and know whether the light is set for ON, OFF or Photo sensor, is to use a relay (mechanical or solid state) and some electronic wizardary. It's not to complex for someone who knows how. Put a push button and an indicator at each location. Run 3 or 4 strands of wire back to a controller (CAT-5 or telephone wire would do). You can add a photo sensor, a motion detector and even a timer. The indicator could change color and be on or off or blink.

This is probably overkill, but I haven't used the 'smarthome' or 'x-10' systems. I worry about outside interference and the expense with those.

BV000019

11:33PM | 12/27/12
I missed earlier conversation.I want to add an override switch to turn on the lights on a cloudy day at a used carlot.The lights are operated by a photo cell now,which will turn lights on a very cloudy day.Should I just put blocker on half of photo eye or can I wire an override switch and how?if I wanted to turn light off,I would tie in between red off photo cell and b4 coil of contactor.Thanks for any clarity,
gary

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06:10PM | 03/29/14
How do I wire a photocell with a time clock a contactor and override switch?

BV015311

06:19PM | 12/14/17
I believe this is called a master circuit.

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