Photoelectric Sensor & LED Bulbs on Dimmer Help

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Old 12-26-20, 08:57 AM
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Photoelectric Sensor & LED Bulbs on Dimmer Help

Folks... I have a photoelectric switch that is wired between an indoor maestro dimmer switch and two outdoor entryway post lamps. The maestro is supposed to control power AND the dimming function... the photoelectric switch turns power on/off for dusk/dawn.

The maestro switch controls the power (on/off) just fine. It also handles the dimming function just fine too.

So what's the problem?

Unfortunately, the dimming function seems to interfere with the automatic feature of the photoelectric switch.

When the maestro dimmer switch is turned on to "full" (maxed to full brightness), everything works beautifully. Sun comes up and the lights turn off. Sun goes down, the lights turn on.

The issue? My wife.

She is not happy because "the lights are too bright and I expect to control the brightness with this $35-$40 switch!". The real issue is the lights will not turn on when the sun goes down if the maestro dimmer is below the maxed out level! They also will not turn off when the sun comes up if they are manually turned on at night then dimmed.

Currently, they are being manually turned on at night (in the dimmed position), then manually turned off in the morning. My wife shames me twice a day by reminding me how great that photoelectric sensor doesn't work! She has to manually turn the lights on and off!

I understand LED bulbs can be an issue, so I ensured I had the correct, recommended bulbs for a maestro switch. Unfortunately, even with the "right" LED bulb, the lights will only turn on/off as expected if they are in the maestro's maxed out position.

Has anyone ever experienced this? Does anyone have a suggestion? I've tried a variety of LED bulbs and they all work as expected as long as the maestro is maxed out. The switch itself is a CQC Brand by Qicheng Electrical Equip Co. Model is LC-105

My only guess is that the photoelectric switch is interfering with the proper functioning of the bulbs. Can the dimming function force the photoelectric switch to not work?
 
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Old 12-26-20, 09:29 AM
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The issue is not the LED bulbs but how you have the dimmer wired in. I suspect you have it wired like this:
Dimmer-------> Photocell----------> Lamps

The issue is then if you dim the lights you are also reducing the power to the photocell to the point that it will not function. What you need to do is put the photocell first, then the dimmer, then the lamps:
Photocell-------> Dimmer---------> Lamps

This will provide full power to the photocell for it to function properly.

Another option is to install lower wattage lamps to provide the light level your wife is happy with. BTW this is the first time I have ever heard somebody putting a dimmer on outside lights.
 
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Old 12-26-20, 10:55 AM
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first time I have ever heard somebody putting a dimmer on outside lights
I put a dimmer on my front porch and driveway lights when they were incandescent, mostly for mood lighting at Halloween and holidays. It was an X10 remote controlled switch that is still in place in the OFF position but has not been used for years. I now have LED bulbs in those fixtures. The 40 watt equivalents provide the right amount of light that I like (low level) and still provide enough light for my front porch camera and to see the walkway.

I have also wired high-mounted dual floodlights (incandescent) in series to both reduce the light level and to extend life. They are at least 30 years old at this point.

For various reasons I have in the outside lighting circuit a mechanical time clock, a photocell, a motion detector and the dimmer switch (OFF) as well as manual override switches by the doors and an all-on connection to my alarm system. When I changed to LED bulbs I encountered a ghost connection that allows the LEDs to glow very slightly when they are turned off by the time clock at night. The motion detector bypasses all the other controls so I think it makes the ghost connection when it is still dark outside. Its internal photocell cuts off that connection when it is light out.

The glow is not enough to provide path lighting (the motion detector does that when needed) and looks like a dim gas flame so I like it.
 
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Old 01-04-21, 12:20 AM
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GENIUS!

I in fact do have the sensor wired as you outlined. Being an amateur, I thought I needed to control power to the sensor with the switch. I will change up the order of connections and I'm certain that will fix the issue.

Very much appreciate the response. I will provide an update after I get things rewired.

As for putting a dimmer switch on the outside light... I pretty much do whatever I can to keep her around . (I probably put up with way more than I should). I too had an issue with putting a dimmer on an outdoor light but after seeing it in use, I can appreciate the ability to control the mood while sitting outside. In fact, I've enjoyed beaming it higher when I see a neighbor let their dog run up into our yard at night.
 
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Old 01-07-21, 07:54 AM
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Rewiring Line to Photosensor-->Switch-->Lamps

If I'm following you correctly... should the wiring follow the configuration I attached here? I'm confused on how to handle the Load (Lo) red wire. If Lo is left as is, it seems as though the dimmer switch would be useless. Would this configuration work correctly if left as drawn?

Am I missing something?


 
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Old 01-07-21, 11:32 AM
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You want the Hot from the breaker to go through the photocell switch first. Then out of the photocell to the Line of the dimmer. Then the Load side of the dimmer (usually red) goes to the lights.

Neutral of the dimmer gets connected to neutral like always. Most photocells don't have a neutral, but if it does, it gets connected to neutral as well.

Basically you have 2 switches (photocell / dimmer) in series. Both need to be on for the lights to work. That's how you have it now, but likely power > dimmer > photocell where you need power > photocell > dimmer.

I'd be surprised though if it's an easy fix because of how the wires are run. Where is your photocell located?
 
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Old 01-07-21, 01:27 PM
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Update: Fixed!!!

FIXED! Huge thanks to Tolyn Ironhand! Honorable mention to Zordft for the follow on... I was working on this when you sent it in.

I definitely had some connections that were a little scrambled. In the end, I got it all working and now waiting for the wife to say "finally. Now you can get started on building that shed you said you were going to start working on last year."

Basically I had to do what Tolyn suggested by taking the power line (black wire) from panel to photocell to dimmer switch:
Panel --> Photocell --> Dimmer Switch --> Lamps

I also had to make sure the Load (Lo) wire was going direct to the dimmer switch (NOT the lamps!)

So now when the sun goes down, the sensor allows power to flow through it's load wire to the switch which is always on... which then flows through the dimmer switch to the lamps.

Once the dimmer switch is receiving full power, my wife can control yet another perso... I mean device by adjusting the brightness. What's best? I don't have to be reminded every morning and night that "it sure would be nice to not have to worry about turning these lights off and on every single day."

Thanks again. Really digging this doityourself site.




 

Last edited by Amateur757; 01-07-21 at 02:51 PM. Reason: Drawing was inaccurate - Redrawn
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Old 01-07-21, 04:25 PM
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You're welcome! Glad you got it working correctly.
 
 

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