Wiring a Photocell for an Outdoor Light Fixture
How to Wire a Photocell Control to an Outside Light Fixture: Matching a Photocell to an Outdoor Light Fixture, An Example for Wiring a 120Volt Photocell to Control the Light.
How to Wire a Photocell
Electrical Question #1: I would like control an outside light with a photo cell. How can this be done?
Wiring a 1000 Watt Outdoor Light
- The light is now wired for 240 volts and would like to switch it on and off with a photo cell. I have a photocell and was just wondering do you switch just one leg to shut it on and off and if that is the case why is a 240 volt photo cell needed? Each leg is 120 volts just looking for some understanding.
This electrical question came from: Joe in Michigan.
Electrical Question #2:
- I have a 3wire outside electric cord along with a AC DC Transformer (in. AC 100 240v, 125w) a photo cell (120v 4.2 amp 500w 7.1A ballast) with a red wire, white wire, and black wire. There are 4 12volt landscape spot lights with 1blue and 1Brown wire.
- I have the red wire from the photo cell to the brown wire of the spot light. The black wire from photocell to the black wire from the house circuit. All wires white to white, and the blue wire. The light will not turn off.
This electrical wiring question came from John in Florida.
Thank you for your electrical wiring questions.
Photocell Control for Outside Lights
Application: How to Wire a Photocell to Control a Outside Light Fixture.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced. This electrical wiring project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor or a Certified Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the light circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the timer switch wiring.
Notice: Installing additional fixture wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Materials: Make sure the timer switch has the same amperage and voltage rating as the original switch, and is fully compatible with the electrical circuit, the light fixture and the type of light bulbs being used.
Wiring a Photocell to Control an Outside Light Fixture
Matching the Photocell to an Outdoor Light Fixture
- There are applications where a 240 volt load can be switched on and off using just one leg of power, but I would not advise it unless it is a built in control circuit of the equipment.
- The photocell to control your 1000 watt outdoor light fixture needs 240 volts to operate the photo cell, and because the 240 volt circuit does not have a neutral you cannot use a 120 volt photocell which does require a neutral.
- The solution is to get a photocell that matches the voltage configuration you have wired the outside light fixture for, and wire it according to the diagram.
- Photocells are available for most voltages and various watt or electrical circuit load requirements.
Photocell Basics: How a Photocell Operates
A photocell is basically an automatic switch that is controlled by sunlight during the daytime, and darkness during the night. The change from light to dark automatically activates the photocell to turn on the light fixtures that are wired to it.
Example of Wiring a 120 Volt Photocell
- The Electric Circuit and Line Wiring Connections
A typical photocell requires circuit wiring connection which would include the green ground wire, white neutral wire and the black circuit power wire.
- The Load Wiring Connection
The Load wiring of the photocell is typically where the black wire that leads to the light fixture is connected to the Red wire of the photocell.
- Remaining Light Fixture Wires
The white neutral wire and the ground wire of the light fixture connect to the white neutral wire and the ground wire of the photocell.
See More about Electrical Wiring for Outside Light Fixtures
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I have a friend that wants to hook a photocell up in place of a time clock how is this done
A photo cell is wired just like a switch, only it needs a neutral. Photocells may also be used with a time clock if the lights should turn OFF at a special time, but accurately turn ON at dusk, very energy saving.
I bought a photocell for mounting outdoor. Could you please send me wringing diagram?
The voltage of the photocell as well as the make and model will need to be identified and the country where the photocell is to be installed for an accurate wiring diagram.
We purchased two outside wall lanterns to replace our current light fixtures. The new lights have built in photo cells, and our current wiring has a built in photo cell as well. Do we need to tape a wire off?
Great question Vickie,
In a case like this the photocells in each light fixture could be disconnected, however there really should not be a problem, except for a slight delay of the lights coming on after the main photocell turns on the circuit to the outside lights. If there is a problem then you could wire past each photocell and connect directly to the wires of the light sockets. Use electrical tape or wire connectors to cap off the disconnected wires.
I hope this helps you,
I would like to learn more about photo cell wiring diagrams 120 and 240 volts. Your website is very helpful.
I have two outdoor sconces that have individual photo cells that are small. Each photocell it has two wires. The fixtures are ten years old, and the photocells are hard to find. Could I use just a regular three wire photocell and not hook up the red wire? Thanks for your time.
A three wire photocell cannot be used to replace of a two wire photocell. However I have seen the two wire photocells at several popular hardware stores so I know they are available as a direct replacement.
Enjoy your light fixtures,