Looking for outdoor lights with a built-in photocell...
June 27, 2005 9:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to locate outdoor wall-mounted coach-lantern light fixtures that have a built-in photocell...

...so that my outdoor lights can automatically turn on at dusk. I don't want to have to add anything else to the circuit beyond the fixtures, if I can avoid it, which is why I want fixtures that have a built-in photocell. I know there are photocells that screw into a standard lightbulb base, but they look pretty ugly and probably won't fit in the fixture - they also may not work with compact fluorescent bulbs (which I'd like to use). I've hunted through online lighting manufacturer catalogs, but haven't found anything meeting this description. Does such a beast exist?
posted by gwenzel to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
We got ours at Lowes, and Home Depot had them, too.
posted by fixedgear at 2:42 AM on June 28, 2005

I found them at Home Depot several years ago; they were motion-sensor lights that also had the photocell you describe. As I recall, they were pretty cheap, and not bad-looking.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:44 AM on June 28, 2005

I recently got the same sort of feature by swapping out my wall switch that controlled outdoor lights to a x10 toggle switch. I now run x10 software which lets me custom program the sunset-to-sunrise program.

Currently I have the software track the actual sunset time via the web, and randomly grab a time between 1 and 15 minutes after to turn them on (this makes it seem like a human turned the lights on, not a program). Then around 11pm (again, plus or minus 1-15 minutes) it shuts itself off.

I also setup a motion sensor that sends an x10 on signal after 11pm to run the lights for one minute if someone walks up to the door. I added a keychain remote to let me turn them on from my car if I come home after 11pm.

It's probably overkill if you just wanted the lights to come on when it gets dark, but I like the x10 system for its flexibility.
posted by mathowie at 2:55 AM on June 28, 2005

Hmm, maybe I missed something when I was at Home Depot. Is it possible with the motion-sensor lights to not use the motion sensor, but only the photocell (so that they come on when it's dark, rather than when there's movement?)
posted by gwenzel at 6:42 AM on June 28, 2005

You can disable the motion sensor bit fairly easily with a piece of tape or some dark nail polish. The lights I installed for my MIL atually had a small rotary switch to set sensitivity. At the extremes the motion "feature" was disabled.
posted by Mitheral at 1:56 PM on June 28, 2005

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