Problem with outdoor security light on pole

Old 03-12-04, 05:48 PM
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Angry Problem with outdoor security light on pole

We installed a security light on a 25 foot pole in our backyard when we purchased our home for security purposes. Recently the security light goes off and on all night leaving our backyard in total darkness. We rewired the security from the main fuse box to the light and installed a new plug-in sensor which is to make the light come on at dusk and go off at dawn, but it is still going off and on all night. It never goes off at the same time or for the same intervals of time. I am really frustrated trying to figure out what is wrong and we cannot see a thing in our yard with out this light at night. Can anyone give me some idea of what might be causing this problem? Thanks for listening!
Old 03-13-04, 05:00 AM
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Hello: mamakay43. Welcome to the Do It Yourself web site.

The problem may and most like will be electrical or with the bulb itself. Some sodium filled bulbs, if the buld is one, have thise pendency to turn on and off.

Reason to me is unknown why some do and some do not. The electrical professionals may be best able to help you, so I am moving your question to get you their help, advice & suggestions.
Old 03-13-04, 08:26 AM
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That is a classic sign of a bulb going bad. Could also be a problem with the photocell. Check if you can easily disconnect the photocell from the wiring and wire it directly. Then turn the breaker back on and the light should stay on all the time. If it continues to turn off and on, i would replace the bulb. If thats not an option, replace the bulb first.
Old 03-13-04, 08:51 AM
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HID bulbs will also cycle during low voltage conditions. Does it happen with any consistancy that you could tell if a large electrical load in your home is going on at the same time?
Old 03-13-04, 11:46 AM
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May sound silly but please ensure that all your electrical connections are secure and as per installation instructions. Remember that some photocells ( for some reason) need to look North ( I know... you are from Tennessee and that is heresy, but a fact :-) ) Also ensure that there is no stray lighting fooling the cell. Headlights, other yard lights in area, etc.
To check if photo cell is working put a piece of black electrical tape over the eye and see if the light tiggers on.
Look at the bulb. If the light goes on, but does not come up to full intensity and then quits, it might be the ignitor/transformer. The ignitor will start the bulb but the transformer can't sustain the voltage to make it work.
If the bulb is bad it will flicker and stop and not really brighten.
I recently had exactly the same problem with my security lighting. I installed it and three months later the problem started. I replaced the bulb and all was well for awhile and then it started again. The bulbs are rated to last and this should not have been happening.
I contacted the manufacturer and it appears that the ignitor / transformer circuit was bad. Their engineer stated that once the bulb commences this pattern it should be changed IMMEDIATELY ( if not sooner). Kind of impractical if you are away. My light was a RAB YLS70 light and, after some prodding, they replaced the whole fixture free of charge.
So contact the manufacturer for more info.
BTW :I had my last light up for almost 19 years ( :-) )and only changed the bulb twice. That light was destroyed in a storm. :-( My other light has been up since 1980 and I've only changed the bulb in that once!

Last edited by Bob M; 03-13-04 at 12:03 PM.
Old 03-13-04, 12:07 PM
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Just a general note on outdoor lighting in general:
Unfortunately, the quality of most residential outdoor lighting fixtures is very low. Whenever possible, I try to install commercial grade fixtures. I am not a fan of HPS due to the end-of-life cycling and much shorter than rated lamp life. My favorite style of lighting is mercury vapor or metal halide, with mercury being my first choice, due to longevity and ruggedness. Metal halide has a higher CRI (Color Rendering Index), but has a shorter and less predictable life.
Like I said, be sure to buy COMMERCIAL QUALITY fixtures if possible. They will cost much more initially, but will last much longer.

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