Motion Sensor Light for Front Entrance

My dad asked me to replace the light next to his front door with a
motion sensing unit. He bought a stock fixture from HD with the sensor
built into the fixture. There is no way to aim the sensor, it just
points straight out from the front of the fixture.
The instructions say that the sensor will work better if the "heat
source" moves across the coverage area as opposed to straight towards
it. They sure got that right!
The approach to their front door is straight up a ~40' walkway from
the sidewalk. Even set at the highest sensitivity, which should allow
for a ~30' range, the light doesn't come on until the person is right
at the stoop, ready to lift their leg onto the first step.
However, if you walk across the yard the light will come on anywhere
in the 5' to 30'+ range. In fact, 1 out 3 cars going down the street
activate the light.
Unfortunately, "across the coverage area" is not how they (or anyone
else) would approach their front door.
What kind of fixture/sensor does he need so that it will pick up
people walking straight towards it?
BTW, it's an old brick house with a shallow box for the fixture cut
into the brick. A one-for-one swap is easy, but mounting a separate
sensor someplace else and running wires back to the fixture would be a
pain. I'd really prefer something built into the fixture if possible.
Thanks!
Reply to
DerbyDad03
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One alternative is to use X10. These are electrical products that communicate via the existing house wiring. They have a motion sensor that is wireless, operates on batteries, and can be mounted outdoors anywhere. So, you could mount it so that people will walk across in front of it as they come up the sidewalk.
The wireless unit transmits a signal that is received by a small module that you plug in to any nearby AC outlet in the house. That module puts the communication signal on the AC house wiring, where it should be able to be picked up by any X10 device that is connected to the AC wiring anywhere in the house.
So, the next part you need is an X10 wall switch. It replaces a standard wall switch and can be turned on/off manually like a regular switch, or via the X10 AC signals.
So, when someone walks by, the wireless sends the turn-on signal to the wireless receiver. The receiver puts the signal on the AC line and the switch receives it and turns the light on.
The motion sensor also has a light sensor, so it can be programmed to always turn the light on at dusk, or to only turn it on after dusk if motion is detected, etc. You can also program how long it stays on after motion is sensed.
The modules are cheap and can be found for under $10 on Ebay. I put one in for a friend recently similar to what you want to do. The motion sensor is located on the outside garage wall, so when you drive up, it turns on the 3 lights outside the garage. The same sensor also sends a dusk signal to a switch that works the front door lights on the other side of the house. It turns those lightsm which are CFL on at dusk and off at dawn.
Some caveats:
X10 is not always 100% reliable, but I've used it for this kind of application and it works fine. Also the outdoor module probably has a life of a couple years, but then they only cost $10 and you can even use double sided velcro tape to attache them.
Any of the X10 modules will work with incandescent bulbs. If you want to use CFL, you need to get a module that says it will work with any loads. For example, they have modules that are specd for appliances, so they have a relay inside, as opposed to electronic switching and will work with CFL.
As with any motion sensor, you can get false turn-on from moving shrubs, etc.
Reply to
trader4
Thanks. I'll look into it.
The fixture dad bought has all of the dusk-to-dawn, timer, etc. features that you mentioned, which is what he wanted, so that's good.
re: "The next part you need is an X10 wall switch...when someone walks by, the wireless sends the turn-on signal to the wireless receiver. The receiver puts the signal on the AC line and the switch receives it and turns the light on."
I assume the switch fits in a standard box, right? The current switch setup is 2 switches in one box: A STSP switch for the outside light and a 3-way switch for a switched outlet. Best case is both switches fit in the existing box - and still match. Is that doable - barring any "this is an old house" - issues?
One more question: With most motion detector set-ups, you can override the sensor by toggling the switch within 3 seconds to force the light to be on all the time. Does it work the same way with the x10 switches? Can you turn the light on constantly with a toggle and then reset it to motion-sense with another toggle?
Reply to
DerbyDad03
I think you're best served by not using X-10 - and this advice comes from someone who owns every piece of X-10 gear ever made and uses it daily (along with Jeff Volp's XTB booster - a must for any X-10 setup). It's overkill for this app and is likely to introduce more problems than it solves. One thing you might find is that there's no neutral at the switch - although the presence of a nearby switched outlet means there's probably one nearby. It's also important if you're going to use CFL bulbs.
CFL's don't play nice with X-10 (as well as a lot of other devices that draw power from 110VAC line). If you intend on using them, beware that many take a long time to warm up and are basically unsuitable for walkway lighting. Some CFl's even relight themselves when you turn them off under X-10 control - very annoying! By the time the bulb comes up to max illumination, you're long past the sensor and the light.
I'd pigtail the unit you have with some lamp cord to see if it works with CFLs before going through the hassle of mounting it. If the lights are going to be on for a few hours, it would pay to use CFLs. If the lights will be strictly motion sensor operated, then normal floods would be the choice of bulb.
Ha. Not that I know of, but there's always something new under the sun. X-10 just requires too many pieces to do what a dedicated motion sensor light does. I have a full set of X-10 motion detector floodlights sitting in a box in the attic because they were not as easy to use as dedicated motion detector floods. I use dedicated, self-contained units for the driveway fitted with tungsten floods, but I also have CFL fixtures that are X-10 controlled that I had to run new wire to get them to function correctly. None of my circa 1940 house's built-in fixtures have neutral wires and CFLs just flash away like strobe lights in such circuits with X-10 switches. X-10 trickles a tiny bit of current through tungsten filament bulbs to operate. CFL don't pass that trickle current - they just absorb it until enough builds up to flash the lamp. Very annoying. Sometimes, the flashing is enough to activate the X-10 "current sense" switching and the light comes back on several seconds after you turn it off.
It could be that your units will be mounted so that they really will detect motion where you want it detected, but units that allow you to swivel the detector head are much better. Read the instructions carefully regarding neutral connections. I think you're going to be good to go because the switched out *should* require a neutral in the same gang box, but only your tester knows for sure. Beware that lots of tyro electricians mistakenly use a ground wire when they should be using a neutral - your box may be that way - it's a sin I've seen too many times to count.
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
Yes, it is the same size as a regular single pole switch.
Yes, but the switches won't match. The X10 uses a push button switch to turn the light on and off. I don't find it to big a big deal though. You can find pics of them on Ebay or Smarthome, etc.
I don't see why it's overkill if it directly solves the problem by securing one small motion detector to the side of the house, plugging in a wireless receiver in any nearby outlet in the house, and replacing one wall switch.
The neutral is only necessary if you want to use CFL lights. The standard X10 wall switch doesn't require a neutral. And since CFLs are not that useful for motion activated lights, this is probably a moot point. If you want to use CFLs then you need the other X10 switch that does use a neutral and has a relay so it will work any load.
Which is why not having a neutral likely isn't an issue.
I've only seen this happen when you use the wrong X10 switch, ie the one with no neutral. Then the CFL will partially light all the time because that switch relies on a small current flowing in the circuit to power the X10 switch electronics.
Yep
Of course you can. The X10 wall switch functions EXACTLY like the existing switch for manual use. Push the button, the light turns on. Push it again, the light turns off. No need to do any special sequencing. You still have a manual switch there like before that also responds to the X10 commands.
Yeah, it requires a whopping 3 items: wireless motion sensor that you mount where you want it outside, wireless receiver that plugs in an outlet, and a switch that replaces the existing light switch. All that probably cost $25 and can be installed in 30 mins. And it gives him the freedom to mount the motion sensor exactly where he wants it. Compare that to replacing one or two outside fixtures and it seems about the same to me in effort, but a lot less in cost. Plus you can use any style outside fixtures you want, the existing ones or any new ones. You're not limited to the models that come with motion sensors built-in.
=A0>I have a full set of X-10 motion detector floodlights sitting
That's because you used the WRONG X10 wall switch. The one with a neutral solves that problem. As I described in my post, I have a very similar settup and it works perfectly with two CFLs that are in the original front door fixtures. We used CFLs because they are on from dusk till dawn. But they are activated by the X10 motion sensor unit that is located by the garage. That one motion detector turns on the incandescent garage lights when motion is detected and also turns on the front door lights at dusk.
Detectors are always better at detecting motion across their path instead of coming toward them. That is the problem Derby has. I don't see how swiveling the sensors mounted on the lights at the door is going to solve his problem of a straight in sidewalk approach.
=A0Read the instructions carefully regarding
Reply to
trader4
[snip]
CFL don't pass that trickle
X10 RECEPTICLE modules don't have the current sense "feature" but for some strange reason still have the trickle current. A CFL won't be completely off unless you have some other load connected too.
[snip]
Reply to
Mark Lloyd
ALL X10 switches, relay or not will pass current through the load at all times. This can partially light the CFL.
Reply to
Mark Lloyd
The relay wont partialy pass power at all when its not triggered, I have 3, x10 outdoor motion sensors, the old style that hard mount and they pass no power my 10 outdoor cfl lights dont flicker at all, I have purchased maybe 10, x10 sensors in 20 years. The interior modules do pass some power that allows flickering.
Reply to
ransley
The floodlights are really an exception and don't have current sensing (and thus trickling) built-in. That's because they are not the kind of lights that would ever be operated "locally" which is X-10's term for using the lamp's built-in switch to "tell" the X-10 module (by the interruption in trickle current flow) that the user has toggled the lamp switch and to turn on the module. I have not tried them with CFLs, but I will be doing that shortly.
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
But not another CFL load! I just tried running two CFLs from a splitter plugged into an appliance module and "bang-bang" both turn themselves back on, in serial order. The load has to be something that absorbs the trickle current completely, and that's usually a tungsten lamp, although it can be a non-PS power supply or other type of device.
While there are many "mods" listed for turning off local current sense, I've found that they don't eliminate the flow of trickle current into a CFL and thus, they still flash but at least they won't spontaneously relight. It's such a bummer that X-10 should really come out with a CFL-friendly control module. I am surprised they haven't, given the potential scope of the problem with the phase out of tungsten bulbs. Hmmm. Years of Usenet have taught me to Google before bashing.
OK - just checked with X-10's live support. They are still pushing AM466 modules which flash and relight like crazy! The actually called me on the phone (sales, not techie) sent me three useless links, said it was "noise on the line" (tell that to three different X-10 meters I own that say "no noise") and were pleasant, friendly and yet totally unhelpful in solving the flashing problem. Google seemed to intimate there was a new, CFL-friendly module, but it had actually done the annoying trick of turning my search words into a mis-labeling of a link to the plain old flash-like-a-turn-signal AM466 appliance mod.
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
[snip]
Right. The setup in my bedroom is a lamp with 100W CFL and a TV (I got a small Visio LCD TV that is not "power amnesiac" (comes on with power)) connected to a receptacle module (SR227) which does not have "local control" and the TV provides enough load.
[snip[
I seldom find "customer service" to be helpful, but at least you got someone you could talk to. I just had a really bad experience with a wireless (CDMA) broadband carrier, where the person ignored 90% of what I said.
Reply to
Mark Lloyd
The Green Police are making those non-amnesiac devices harder to find. My RCA TV is one, and when you turn it back on with the IR after shutting it down via X-10 it covers the lower half of the screen with a whiny warning about the clock losing its settings. Hey, you're a TV, not a clock!!!! STFU. (-:
"Flashing" is also dependent on the type of lamp. I have some GE's that don't flash but that are X-10 signal suckers and some N:Vision (HD brand) bulbs that flash like demented fireflies. X-10 needs to make a CFL friendly control module.
I've found if you're even moderately knowledgeable about a product it takes two escalations to get someone who's not reading from an IF THEN ELSE chart and who can actually troubleshoot. X-10's tech support came in as "Unknown name/Unknown number" on caller ID, FWIW. Once I heard her speaking I knew I was not going to get a good answer. I hope I don't regret giving them my phone number.
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
And I have two settups using X10 with CFL and both work perfectly. One uses the plug-in appliance module with a 100W CFL in a desktop light. The other is the X10 wall switch that powers 4 small candle type CFLs, maybe 25W each at the front door. Both go totally out when off.
I guess it could depend on the design of the CFLs.
Reply to
trader4
Two possibilities here: I have a whole load of the Universal Modules, which I used in a previous life, for Halloween animation. I modified the UM to remove the screw terminals and I then added a 1 foot pigtail with a female receptacle. Actually, it was cut off from an extension cord, so there were 3 outlets. The wire went into the place where the screws were, formerly. I've read that the contacts are rated for line voltage, but because of the exposed screw terminals, the unit was only rated for low voltage. Anyway, as this is just a plain make contact in series with the load, it works good on the CFLs that where blinking with the module off. I am now presently using this on in my living room. One sort-of problem, these modules click REAL LOUD.
The 2nd possibility is regular lamp/appliance module modification. I have seen modifications that make a lamp module into a click-free appliance module. One uses a solid state relay. The other uses some other parts. These modification eliminate the sense current completely. Google click free or quiet module modifications.
Reply to
Art Todesco
I have a bunch of UM's, and they do indeed clack, but I am too much of a pussy to pass 110VAC through a contact spec'ed for 33VAC. You're proving that it can be done. I'm saying "Hey, X-10, why are you forcing people like Art to do your design engineering for you?"
The SSR mode looked interesting, but I am reluctant to do much more than snip a wire or cut a surface trace. X-10's final solution was to use a 7W nightlight to counteract the flashback of a bulb I am using to saving electricity. Add in the 4 watts for the X-10 module and another 4 watts for the controller and the economics start to sour. A fully equipped X-10 house draws considerable standby current. I remember measuring mine at close to 400 watts. In a lot of places, the flashing hardly matters and it's actually the most efficient low leveling night lighting you can get (if you're not epileptic). I''ve tried a lot of the mods, and while they do eliminate the local control, they don't stop the current trickle!!!!!
The twin bulb 40W fixture in the workshop finally failed so I replaced it with a new, high eff. unit. Now it flashes with the same intensity as nearby lightning does. Surprisingly, you can navigate quite easily if you move slowly. More than enough light to see a black cat sleeping on a dark rug. Seeing a white dog is no problem. Low SAF and neighbor approval factor, though. Went back to a manual switch (shudder) for the time being.
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
As for the UM, yes the click is horrible ... worse than the generic appliance module. I'm not sure where I found it, but, someone reported that the relay contacts were actually rated at line voltage. The exposed screw terminal are what actually made them put a spec of 33VAC on the module. As you said, I'm proof that it works but I don't have any hard documentation showing the contact rating.
Also, when you said your house had an X10 standby load of 400 watts, I can't see how. I am assuming you mean from modules and such. Today I connected 8 generic lamp modules to a Kill-A-Watt unit. The 8th module made the display go from 1 watt to 2 watts.
Reply to
Art Todesco
Yes and no. It doesn't indicate fractional watts so you need to use the kWh mode and measure over a long time frame. I measured several X10 modules this way for ~100 hour periods. See...
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NOTE: The readings were under no load conditions but I doubt that the trickle current will be that significant.
In-line amperage measurements are worse than useless with non-linear loads like these. The Kill-A-Watt takes thousands of instantaneous readings of both voltage and curreny each second and then averages them to get a very accurate reading. The kWh mode has 30ppm accuracy.
I've neen dealing with major health issues (and have additional surgery scheduled). As for my measurements, I did exactly the opposite, refuting numerous people who were claiming X10 modules used 5-10W based on ammeter readings.
Don't waste your time - this method is, as noted above, worse than useless - worse because it is extremely misleading.
Reply to
Dave Houston
Yes, senility strikes again. But I demand half credit - I remembered that it happened and that you were involved and believe me, like the Langoliers, things out beyond a certain distance are getting all dark and hazy and a little bit scary.
I did recall the most important result of your research to me, at least concerning the Kill-a-Watt. For low end reading to be accurate, low power loads needed to be measured over time and there was a reason that you couldn't just take the Kill-a-Watt's low current, instant readings as gospel. Thanks for correcting my "holey" memory. One hole filled means something else just leaked out, though.
The amount of trickle current - do you think it varies in some way with the nature of the load connected to it? Does the current that causes CFL's to flash also heat a tungsten filament slightly or does the differing nature of the load affect how much current is passing?
I get some pretty serious flashing of two hi-eff 34W fluorescent tubes in the workshop - enough to see by if you move very slowly (-; It would be easy enough to first to compare an appliance module's power consumption without such a load and then with. In about 200 hours or about 8 days from now. (-:
So, 100 hours reading an appliance module, no load v. 100 hours reading appliance module with the two bulb shoplite that flashes more brightly than any other fluorescent in the house. I can even supplement those with readings of an appliance module with a small CFL and another with a 100W tungsten bulb. I also want to see what it costs to run a 7W nitelight with a CFL load since it's now X-10's tech support recommendation to cure the flashing problem. No wires monsters, no lights in boxes - it should get safety approval.
The issue I ran into was the limit imposed on the plug in outlet on Jeff's XTB. It's got a wattage limit for plug in devices, I believe it's either 10 or 15W, but I could be wrong. I measured the devices with a Kill-a-Watt (2 Maxi's, 1 ControlLinc Maxi, 1 Mini controller and a Mini Timer that uses a wall wart transformer and not the standard X-10 type power supply). The Kill-a-Watt gave me a very low number that was below the limit imposed by the XTB, and so I plugged them all into one unit and it worked. I did not measure it using the accumulation kWh mode because waiting around for 100 hours to get a reading is not very practical, but alas, seems necessary when dealing with low wattage items using the Kill-a-Watt. FWIW, the ControlincMaxi's nameplate lists 100mA, the X-10 lamp and appliances modules list no wattage information, and the X-10 Mini lists 2 watts.
The XTB operated quite well with 5 units plugged into the amplification outlet UNTIL I removed the Mini-timer with the wall wart. Then, it fried. When it happened, I got into a discussion with Jeff Volp who immediately went over my admittedly low altitude head with discussions of mixed reactive and inductive loads on both his circuit and the metering methods I was using to make sure I was within the wattage range specified on the XTB label. It was, as they say in the Army, above my pay grade.
Welcome back! Been a while since we last heard form you. Sorry that you're still having health issues. I hope all goes well with your medical procedure.
It seems I lost the decimal place in the fog of senility. Your figures were .4 and .5 and not 4 and 5. I hopefully still have my notes around, but I distinctly recall a metric you used was that they were much cooler to the touch than a 7W nightlight, giving a "rough" reading that said common sense dictated it had to be below 7W. That's when I decided that under careful enough controls, the relative amount of heat output between a module and a 7W night lite could be used to verify readings with meters, that for whatever reason, gave erroneous readings at the low end as when used in a typical way. (Like me!)
IIRC, and it's clear I don't "Recall Correctly" anymore, they did make the heat in a closed, insulated box rise respectfully. They were clearly drawing power that could be measured as heat output. I recall they differed from your readings, but I also recall the experiment being shut down by the resident safety engineer, Ms. Swmbo. The idea of enclosing electronic gear (especially lamps) in wooden boxes lined with Styrofoam did not pass muster, even though it was "unlikely but not impossible" to start a fire. I might e ven have the readings saved in a draft message.
I believe the modules I was running were running under load because I wanted to know the effect and size of the trickle current flow. That was when CFL's had just gone mainstream and I first noticed the flashing problem. I began delving deeper into how to measure the trickle current flow, but someone, I think it might have been Dan L. advised against it, charitably citing safety concerns but more likely having to do with the primitive equipment and skills I possess. (-:
Certainly when using X-10 modules and their linear power supplies. Am I right to assume an in-line ammeter would be much more accurate with inductive and purely resistive type loads? I would assume by the short time between the posts that Art took an instantaneous measure, and not an averaged one. But I'm Often Wrong, so only he say for sure.
At least all this is what I recall when I insisted to an incredulous Jeff that the XTB had been running with no incident with all five X-10 items listed above plugged in via power strip. I am sure he'll be around to correct me shortly as well. As I said, this is really outside my bubble. The XTB problem occurred AFTER I REMOVED the sole inductive load (a wall-wart powered Mini-timer) from the powerstrip with the other four components. It seems quite counterintuitive that reducing the overall load caused the XTB to burn up, but apparently the combination of inductive and linear loads on the XTB was preventing the load from burning up the XTBs input circuitry. I won't paraphrase Jeff's explanation and embarrass myself further. Maybe he can reiterate for us.
I should note that Jeff both offered to repair the unit free and changed the labels and instructions to accommodate the unusual results I discovered by flagrantly disregarding the label warning. Now, in addition to the wattage limit, he indicates that no more than two X-10 devices be plugged into the XTB's amplification outlet. I think a lot of non-engineers and techies have real problems understanding the intricacies of the different types of devices as well as other concepts, like the PF (power factor), phase angles and so on. I know I do!
If reactive and inductive loads can interact as they apparently did with the XTB, is it possible that measuring multiple modules and dividing that outcome as both you and Art did is not actually equivalent to reading a single unit? I assume you did that because reading single units that draw under a watt is problematical for the KaW, even in the kWh "accumulation" mode.
Good to here from you again, Dave, even if you're still correcting the living hell out of me and shaming my Mad Cow brain - that has to be it - Mad Cow. Anyway, that's how we learn, even if the ego gets a little burned around the edges.
And again, here's to a good surgical outcome.
P.S. to Art. Glad you asked this question, nothing at all's changed but I feel alot better that X-10's not eating 400 watts just "being there." I feel a lot worse though, about where all those extra watts are going. A while back someone suggested that the older the house wiring, the more likely substantial amount of juice are going up in heat in the wires. That would not be good. )-:
-- Bobby G.
Reply to
Robert Green
Rather than further spaghetti-ize things by trying to respond inline to your inline comments, I'll just p*ss off all the anti-top-posters and try to respond to your major points here.
Inline ammeters only work for purely resistive loads where voltage and current always remain in phase with each other. With reactive loads (inductive or capacitive), voltage and current are 90° out of phase, requiring multiple, simultaneous measurements. Power=Voltage*
Current so averaging each doesn't work. You have to average the products of the many readings.
Non-linear loads are usually those related to power suplies with diodes that tend to draw current only at certain points in the voltage sine wave. These also require multiple, simultaneous measurements.
I'll leave it to Jeff Volt to explain why you had the problem with the XTB.
CFLs have non-linear power supplies which cause (small) surges, triggering the X10 flashes.
You really don't need the closed box. Just put your hand on the 7W nightlight. It should be hot enough to be quite uncomfortable. IIRC, I used 3W which was still uncomfortable. X10 modules (with no load) have to dissipate the heat associated with the idle load they represent. They never get too warm to touch (unless defective) so this is a quick and dirty sanity check whenever someone suggests they waste significant power.
Robert Green" wrote:
Reply to
Dave Houston
Just to set it straight, I did an instantaneous reading on the Kill-A-Watt ... I didn't even know there was a long term read .... engineers never read the manuals ... I'm not even sure where it is. As to "heat in the wires", what do you mean? And, how did you measure the 400 watts? 400 watts is just under 4 amps and that's a lot. My guess would be that you have something connected and using power that is "hidden".
Reply to
Art Todesco

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