Finally, solved the outlet mystery

Reply

  #1  
Old 04-27-11, 09:51 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
Finally, solved the outlet mystery

On the outside of my house, under the eave, I have two receptacles, one to the right side of the house entrance, the other to the left. Since it's mounted under the eave, they both face down, with a weather cover.

Since I have bought the house and started remodeling, I have never used it. I never tested it either until I decided to label everything and found out the receptacles do not work, both of them. No power going to it. I investigated it further, by turning on all breakers (I have most breakers off while I was redoing the house), then all switches on. Still no power. So my conclusion is they may be connected to a dead line.

Yesterday I climbed up the ladder, took out both outlets and removed them. Just terminated the lines with wire nuts. I pulled on the wires, nothing seem broken or loose in the conduits. Tested the lines again, no power.

I then went to wire another switch. This switch controls a bunch of lights at the front entrance. It controls two pole lights, one on each side of the stairs; two step lights on the inside of the stairs, and two spot/light mounted on the outside corners.

The spot lights are also controlled by photo cells. So if I turned on the light switches, the pole lights and step lights come on, but the spot lights will not come on unless it's dark out. I covered the photo cell with my hand and it came out in about 10 seconds.

Something dawned on me so I used a masking tape to cover the photo cell, then went to the two eave mount receptacles, and there, I have power.

So the receptacles will only be powered IF it's dark out AND IF the light switch is on. I could not figure out the purpose. Christmas light decorations may be?

The other question is photo cells. The two spot lights, one on each side have their own photo cell. The pole light also have a photo cell on it, but someone (previous owner?) had taped over it. So in reality I have a switch that when flipped on, will control two step lights, two light sensitive pole lights, two light sensitive spot lights and receptacles. Why use 4 different photo cells? Would it not be better to have just one at the switch to control all of them together? Is there a way I can buy a switch with photo cell on them, and bypass the individual fixture photo cells?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 04-27-11, 11:55 AM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
The outlets are for christmas lights-I have one on my porch. The photocells are only rated up to 25A, the largest circut you can use is 20A, and lights will easily use that. Seperate sensors for seperate circuts. You could use a sensor to control a contactor for a subpanel if you really want to.
 
  #3  
Old 04-27-11, 06:35 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
You could use a sensor to control a contactor for a subpanel if you really want to.
No need for a subpanel for a few circuits. You could use one photocell to control one 4-pole 20 amp contactor and run your circuits through the contactor. Depending on how many circuits you are dealing with, a 2 or 3-pole contactor may be adequate.
 
  #4  
Old 04-27-11, 07:29 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
One circuit. The wire comes to one junction box, with the switch then it runs to other parts of the house. Not sure where it goes but that one switch controls pole light 1 with it's own photo cell, pole light 2 with it's own photo cell, step light 1, step light 2, security light 1 with it's own photo cell, security light 2 with it's own photo cell, and two eave mount receptacles. All via one single switch.
 
  #5  
Old 04-27-11, 07:42 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
You could just run 12/3 to a photocell. Remove the others and put a k/o seal in the hole. I think it is stupid to have holiday lighting receptacles on the same circut as anything else beings you need 5-10W per foot.
 
  #6  
Old 04-28-11, 06:13 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
I did some more trouble shooting today and finally I think I have determined all the fixtures that are tied to this one circuit. I am not sure how to calculate to see if this will exceed the capacity of the circuit but this is everything that are tied to it.

The breaker is a 20A breaker. Wires are all #12.

The wire splits into 5 wires controlled by 5 switches. Those are all fixtures around the front and entrance areas of the house.
  1. Switch 1: A set of 4 recessed lights under the east side soffit.
  2. Switch 2: A set of 4 recessed lights under the west side soffit.
  3. Switch 3: A set of two immersed lights along the wall of the swimming pool (I assume there is a transformer down there, have not taken that apart yet).
  4. Switch 4: One outlet for landscape lighting not used normally.
  5. Switch 5: This single switch controls 8 additional things, listed below:
  • Entrance pole light 1 with it's photo cell 1.
  • Entrance pole light 2 with it's photo cell 2.
  • Entrance step light 1.
  • Entrance step light 2.
  • Front exterior security flood light 1 with photo cell 1.
  • Front exterior security flood light 2 with photo cell 2.
  • Front exterior soffit outlet 1 (for Christmas lights?)
  • Front exterior soffit outlet 2 (for Christmas lights?)
So if I turn everything on, this circuit will be powering 17 light fixtures, plus two sets of Christmas lights.

Is this too much? It sounds like it is.
 
  #7  
Old 04-28-11, 06:54 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
Regarding the photo cells, as you can see from my post above, switch #5 alone controls multiple devices with 4 photo cells. I would like to get rid of all the photo cells on each device, and use one photo cell on the actual junction box.

The box that controls all these exterior lights in inside my courtyard. It is mounted inside an 8 " concrete block wall, with a 5 gang box.



As you can see, it is going to be difficult to incorporate a photo cell into this setup. The five switches are already taking up the room across the switch plate. I can see how to wire a photo cell after the switch, but I do not see how I can accommodate the photo cell without bumping one switch to a double switch, which then will require all the switches to be changed to Decora switches which will take up much more room in the junction box.

Ideally, if there is a single switch, with an integrated photo cell on the actual switch, with three options:

(1) OFF
(2) ON and use the photo cell
(3) ON and by pass the photo cell

That would be ideal. I looked and could not find such an animal.
 
  #8  
Old 04-28-11, 08:20 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
The photocell must be outside, rated 20A, as well as any switches powering receptacles. My photocell is in a bellbox with a 20A TRWR gfi.
There are also timers that will fit in the place of a switch.
 
  #9  
Old 04-28-11, 08:33 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
Originally Posted by Justin Smith View Post
The photocell must be outside, rated 20A, as well as any switches powering receptacles.
Thanks for commenting. Can you clarify, when you say "rated 20A as well as any switches powering receptacles" do you mean the switch that powers the receptacles should be 20A or the receptacles must be 20A or both? I think right now they are both 15A.

I guess one option is to chip a new box in the concrete wall next to the 5 gang box, to pass the wire after the switch to the box, wire up the photo cell in the new box, using a blank cover and drill a hole to fit the photo cell.

The switches are inside the courtyard, and it i outside in that it is an open courtyard.
 
  #10  
Old 04-28-11, 08:41 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
Can you clarify, when you say "rated 20A as well as any switches powering receptacles" do you mean the switch that powers the receptacles should be 20A or the receptacles must be 20A or both? I think right now they are both 15A
The photocell needs to be rated to carry 20A
The switch feeding the receptacles needs to be rated to carry 20A
The receptacles can be 15A, Must be weather-resistant, and gfi protected.
 
  #11  
Old 04-29-11, 08:52 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
Got it, I will change the switch to a 20A switch. Thanks for the heads up.

Any thoughts on the circuit load in post #6? I assume this sounds like too many fixtures supported by one circuit? Granted the chance of all lights turned on at the same time is rare?
 
  #12  
Old 04-29-11, 03:00 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
If you feel you have to, you can pull new thhn conductors for switch 5 on a 20A GFCI breaker. If the lights all have 100W bulbs or less and you plan on using LED [christmas]lights you should not have to. If you have lamps over 100W or plan on using incandescent [christmas]lights, you could pull a new circut.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'