Introduction: Dual-Brightness Motion-Sensing Patio Light
This project converts an inexpensive motion-sensing lamp fixture (Heath-Zenith HZ-5610, which is off until motion is detected) to have "dual brightness" functionality (both low-level, ambient illumination and full-brightness when motion is detected).
Both levels of illumination are adjustable with dimmers. The motion-sensor can also be disabled to have persistent (unchanging) lighting of the space (e.g., during a party). Simply flip the toggle switch, turn up the idle dimmer to have brighter light. When you're finished using that space, return the idle dimmer to the no-motion ambient level, and flip the toggle switch to have dual-brightness motion sensing again.
Hint: Much of this project's effort centers around fitting components into the HZ-5610's unused space. However, if you look at the wiring diagram (photo 5), you can see how that circuit will work with any light fixture. You'd have to use a larger electrical box to hold all the components (instead of trying to fit some inside an existing fixture). This project would be much shorter/simpler if that's all I did (but, I wanted to reuse the fixtures I have, which have some space built into them for circuitry.).
I was motivated to do this project after making my HZ-5610 fixture more Dark Sky friendly using a paper "shade" inside the globe, reducing the amount of forward light (making the fixture more back-lit against the house, more down-lit; less harsh to view).
At that time, I had the idea to create this "dual brightness" functionality using the HZ-5316 motion sensor which has a built-in "DualBrite" feature. Later, I discovered that sensor isn't made for LED bulbs (if it does work, the bulb and/or sensor isn't expected to last long, according to Heath-Zenith).
That caused me to think about how I could create such functionality using basic parts:
- An ordinary motion sensor (no built-in dimming, just on/off switching)
- A dimmer for idle brightness (I used two dimmers for separate control of both the idle & motion-sensed brightness)
- A relay (to switch between idle & motion-sensed current to the bulb)
- A dusk-to-dawn sensor (to control the whole thing. The motion sensor has a dusk-to-dawn sensor too. I disabled that by painting over it.)
- A toggle switch to make the fixture always-on (no dual-brightness interruptions when using the space for a purpose).
It's actually quite simple (image 5), and much more functional than Heath-Zenith's product (which hasn't even been updated to work with LED yet). The most tedious part of this project was trying to conserve space by using the gutted fixture to hold something. As mentioned previously, you don't have to do that. You can put all these parts in one box, and use any fixture.
The 2nd dimmer (to control active, motion-detected brightness) is overkill. With any motion-sensing fixture, that brightness is controlled by the bulb you choose. But, in the spirit of the Dark Sky initiative, I thought it would be beneficial to have a dimmer for that mode too. (If you use a bulb that's a little too bright, you can tone it down.).
You can't buy a light with this dual-brightness functionality (let alone this configurable). Best of all: this can be used with any fixture.
Fixture: Heath-Zenith HZ-5610 (photo 6). This fixture comes with its own dusk-to-dawn & motion sensing electronics. After removing that, it has some interior space to hold some of the components, allowing the smaller (single-gang) box I used. You could use a double-gang box (or Cantex #5133705 4x4x2" tall box, or their #5133709 4x4x4) to hold everything. You don't have to put the dimmers inside this fixture.
This wiring will work with any fixture. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is the "hot in" (from the house wiring) and "hot out" (to the bulb). Everything else can be isolated (into one box) and used with any fixture.
Motion sensor: Heath-Zenith HZ-5407. Any motion sensor should work. The only possible complication is if a motion sensor has a dimmer built into it. For example: the HZ-5316 has a "DualBrite" feature which essentially does what this project does (dims the light instead of turning it off). That type of motion sensor won't work with this project. If a sensor is strictly on/off, it should work. (As already mentioned, the HZ-5316 doesn't work with LED bulbs either, it will wear the bulb and/or itself out faster. That's why I did this project. If that motion sensor worked with LED, I would have never considered how to create my own functionality.).
Dusk to dawn sensor: Home Depot #1000 010 763 (UPC: 8 57617 00472 9). Dimension: 2.05L x 1.135W x 0.81H + 0.81 for the barrel height. Barrel diameter: 0.650.
This device seems to be a commodity. (It's marked "Reliance Controls P4021." Look at the side of the device (photo 7). It has an unusual L-shaped seam. You'll see that seam on many parts branded differently.). Lowes sells the same device branded Sigma. Ace has it branded Westek.
Note: There are other & smaller photocells. But, they often lack a time-delay. Without that, they will flicker/strobe at dusk & dawn (called hysteresis). Or, they might turn off when headlights hit them. I would stick with this commoditized sensor. Look for the "L" seam. Brand doesn't seem to matter. If you use something else, make sure it has a time-delay. This sensor can take 5 minutes to turn on (when you put tape over it during daylight). That gives you an idea of how it won't react quickly to light changes.
Another option for dusk-to-dawn switching is the Honeywell RPLS740B (white; 741B almond) "solar programmable" wall switch. Instead of a photocell, this uses your longitude/latitude coordinates to determine sunrise/set every day. The advantage of using this device: you can reduce the amount of space in the weatherproof box. The disadvantage: it's more complicated, expensive, and retention of settings during a power outage could be an issue (or might not be. You'd need to investigate for yourself). Also, this device only works if your wall's switch box has a neutral wire. Many older homes don't (but, it's possible to run a wire to the switch box). FWIW: Honeywell has another model (540B & 541B) which doesn't require neutral. But, this doesn't work with LED bulbs (because it operates while "off" by allowing a small amount of current to pass to the bulb -- essentially using it's neutral. This could cause an LED bulb to flicker or fail sooner.). Honeywell has two other models (530 & 730) which don't have the longitude/latitude feature. They come on at a fixed time which doesn't change as the days get shorter/longer.).
Dimmer: Leviton Trimatron RNL06 (UPC: 0 78477 85561 4). The only reason I used this dimmer is because it's small enough to fit where I wanted to put it. Its cheap too.
Note: Evidently there are different strategies for "dimming" LED bulbs. One bulb might work well with one dimmer, but poorly with another (and vice-versa). Example: I ran a Philips 3.3w, 200 lumen "vintage" 2000k (#3.3A15/VIN/820/E26/CL/GL/DIM. UPC: 0 46677 55655 6). The Trimatron dimmer will dim this bulb all the way down to almost nothing.
But, using a GE Relax R14 4w 250 lumen 2700k (#44997; Desc: LED4DR14E9SW-LT2; UPC: 0 43168 44997 7), the Trimatron dims it to about half brightness, then the bulb abruptly turns off.
These are some bulbs I tested, which dimmed successfully:
- GE 25w-equiv (3w actual), 125 lumen, Vintage (2000k), PC: 36501 (Lowes), UPC: 0 43168 36501 7
- Philips 25w-equiv (3.3w actual), 200 lumen, Vintage "amber light" (2000k), # 3.3A15/VIN/820/E26/CL/GL/DIM (Home Depot), UPC: 0 46677 55655 6
- Philips 25w-equiv (2.7w actual), 250 lumen, "warm glow effect" (2700-2200k), 2.7G16.5/# PER/927-922/CL/G/E26/WGX T20 (Home Depot), UPC: 0 46677 54888 9
- GE (R14) 25w-equiv (4w actual), 250 lumen, "Relax" (2700k), PC: 44997 (Lowes), UPC: 0 43168 44997 7
- GE ?w-equiv (5w actual), 250 lumen, Vintage (2000k), PC: 33574 (Lowes), UPC: 0 43168 33574 4
- Philips 40w-equiv (5w actual), 350 lumen, Vintage "amber light" (2000k), # 5ST19/VIN/820/E26/CL/GL/DIM (Home Depot), UPC: 0 46677 55680 8
- GE 60w-equiv (5.5w actual), 400 lumen, Vintage (2200k), PC: 33528 (Lowes), UPC: 0 14368 33528 7
- Philips 40w-equiv (5w actual), 450 lumen, "warm glow effect" (2700-2200k), # 5A19/PER/927-22/FR/G/WGX T20 (Home Depot), UPC: 0 46677 55759 1
- Philips 60w-equiv (9.5w actual), 800 lumen, "warm glow effect" (2700-2200k), 9.5A19/PER/827-22/P/E26/WG (Home Depot), UPC: 0 46677 47957 2
- Cree 60w-equiv (10w actual), 815 lumen, "soft white" (2700k), TA19-08027MDFH25-12DE26-1-12 (Home Depot), UPC: 8 49665 02163 6 (Note: This bulb starts to get slightly brighter at the very dimmest setting. Otherwise, it works.)
Of the dimmable bulbs I tried, only this one didn't work (it strobed. I tried two. It wasn't just a bad bulb):
- Philips 60w-equiv (4.5w actual), 300 lumen, vintage "amber light" (2000k), # 4.5A19/VIN/820/E26/CL/GL/DIM (Home Depot), UPC: 0 46677 557679 2
Therefore, the dimmer seems very compatible with LED bulbs. If you find a bulb that claims to be dimmable, but doesn't work, try another. As you can see above, the odds are strongly in your favor.
Toggle switch: Gardner-Bender GSW-125 Wire-Lead Short-Ball Toggle Switch (SPST) (UPC: 0 32076 02175 7). Dim: .505W x 0.990L x 0.505H (The shaft is 0.5" tall too.). Barrel diameter: 0.463".
Optional weatherproof boots: Gardner-Bender GSW-20. These are made for the larger GSW-18 toggle. But, will work with the GSW-125 stubby lever. There are also GSW-20H half-height boots which the toggle's lever pokes through (and the rubber will seal around the lever).
Box: Home Depot #677 515 (UPC: 8 52944 00704 7). Single-gang, 3-hole, 1/2" hole diameter. If you needed more space (to hold the dimmers, for example), you could use a "double gang" box which is twice the size. Or, a Cantex #5133705 4x4x2" tall box. (They also make a #5133709 4x4x4 box. You could fit everything in that box without even having to modify the dimmers.).
Box cover: Home Depot #678 112 (UPC: 8 5294 4 00757 3).
Relay: Space Age Electronics SPDT 10amp #SSU-PAM-1. (Amazon ASIN: B004KNPRBK). Dim: 1.51L x 1.20W x 0.80H.
Any 120v SPDT relay will work. (For comparison: I run a 3 to 5w bulb. That's less than 0.05 amps.). This was the smallest relay I could find. Another relay, Functional Devices RIBU1C (Amazon ASIN: B000LESCI2) looks more industrial or outdoor-rated. If my SSU-PAM-1 didn't last long, I'd try that. But, it would require a larger (double-gang) box.
Note: The SSU-PAM-1 is rated for operating temperatures 32 to 120F. This works for my climate. For those with colder winters, the RIBU1C is rated for -30F to 140F. But, you'd need a larger (double-gang) box to hold it. That relay actually has 1/2" pipe thread which would screw into one of the holes electrical boxes come with. But, that would look a little odd (steampunk).
Mouser, Digikey & Newark (web sites) would be good places to look for small SPDT relays, compare specifications. There could be a similarly small relay as the PAM-1, better specs, etc. (If anyone discovers one, post a comment.).
- 1/2" diam black iron pipe:
- 90-deg elbow
- 3" nipple
Note: You can use any length nipple, depending on how high/low you want the motion sensor.
You can use galvanized pipe (which doesn't need painting, but requires special paint if you want to paint it). Or, use PVC pipe ("risers" come in 1/2" increments for in-ground sprinklers. Of course, there are 90-degree elbows.). You'd have to use Krylon (for plastic) if you wanted to paint it PVC.
- Nipple (connects box to fixture top)
- Two (2) locknuts (one for iron-pipe nipple; one for EMT nipple.)
- Smallest: Grey (22 to 16ga); Gardner-Bender 19-001
Minimum three 22ga wires / Max two 16ga
- Slightly larger: Blue (22 to 16ga); Gardner-Bender 19-002
Minimum three 22ga wires / Max three 16ga
 Note about wire nuts: These are very small, used inside the box. The grey is the smallest. Blue is slightly larger. The relay comes with five wire nuts which are somewhere in between.
The fixture comes with larger wire nuts for connecting to the house wiring.
Step 1: [Fixture] Gut the Fixture's Body
You don't need any of the electronics this HZ-5610 fixture comes with.
1. Remove the back panel (3 screws. Photo 1).
2. Cut the thick black & white wires going to the lamp socket (photo 1). Cut these as close to the board as possible. (When you use them in step 9, they'll be a tight fit.).
3. Cut the thin white wires to completely remove this board. Photo 1
4. Pull off the next board's plastic slider knobs from the outside. Photo 2
5. Remove the two screws holding that circuit board. Tilt it out. Photo 2
6. Cut the thin wires going to the sensor. Photo 2
7. Break off the two posts (photo 3) to make space for the dimmers.
Important: These two posts must be broken off lower than the two screw heads next to them. I used channel-lock pliers to grab the posts as low as possible, bend back/forth, twist. Remove as much material as you can this way, then use a 3/8" to 1/2" drill-bit to remove any remaining material down to the surface. (It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth as mine. But, it must not extend above those screws.).
8. Break off the upper-center post too (which the cover screws into, photo 3). This post will interfere with the EMT nipple which connects the junction box to the top of the fixture (Step 3). The rear panel has two other screws. (That will be good enough, especially with the rear of the fixture secured against the wall.).
This top-center post doesn't need to be flush like the other two you broke off. It just needs to be broken off far enough back that it won't interfere with the EMT nipple coming through the top of the fixture in Step 3.
Step 2: [FIXTURE] Gut the Fixture's Cap (optional)
The fixture comes with a sensor which won't be used. You can remove it and rotate the cap for a plain front. Or, you can leave it as is. It might look a little strange with two sensors. Or, it might suggest more security. It's your choice.
Steps to remove the sensor
Important: Some of these screws are very tight. It's easy to strip/round the heads. Use good-fitting, hollow-ground screwdriver bits. Lean into it like you're expecting trouble.
1. Remove one screw inside the lamp socket. (Photo 1)
2. Remove two screws which secure the metal bracket (which the lamp socket was secured to. Photo 2)
3. Remove the rotating top cap's center screw. Lift the cap off. (Photo 3)
Important: This center screw was very tight. Don't be tempted to skip #2, thinking you can angle your way to this screw. You'll certainly round it off. (Even with straight-down access to this screw, I thought I was going to round it off. It was very hard to turn. You need to be sitting down, fixture's base between your legs, and pushing the screwdriver hard & straight down into your lap.).
4. Cut the thin wires going to the sensor. (Be careful not to cut the thicker white & black wires. They go to the lamp socket. You'll need those in step 9.)
5. Remove the two screws securing the sensor within a frame (photos 4 & 5)
6. Assuming this fixture is used in a location not exposed to water (see warning below), apply Gorilla outdoor tape (heavy duty) to cover the exposed area. (This is just to keep bugs out; make it look a little better, for as long as the tape lasts. Photo 6)
7. Reinstall the cap, but point the taped side to the back. The lamp socket's white & black wires will pass through the notch inside the cap (where the sensor wires passed through. Photo 7)
WARNING: This HZ-5610 fixture is rated "suitable for wet locations." If you use this fixture in a location exposed to rain (not under an eave or patio/porch roof as I do), it's advisable to skip this step because the resulting hole (where the sensor was) will allow water ingress. The tape could deteriorate over the years. Therefore, that's not a valid waterproofing.
If you really want to eliminate the unused sensor (and if this fixture will be exposed to water): skip the tape; install the top cap facing backwards; fill that opening (the compartment where the sensor used to be) with silicone sealant. Make that compartment a solid mass encasing the lamp-socket's wires. Use a dark/bronze silicone. Shape/smooth the exposed opening so it looks reasonable.
Step 3: [FIXTURE] Install Weatherproof Junction Box
In this step you will drill the 7/8" hole in the top of the fixture (for the weatherproof box to attach using 1/2" EMT nipple & locknut).
WARNING: The HZ-5610 is rated "suitable for wet locations." My fixtures are mounted in sheltered locations (under an eave or patio cover). If your fixture will be exposed to rain, drilling a hole in the top is problematic. The box on top is weatherproof, and the box's front cover comes with a gasket for that purpose. You can buy those gaskets at the hardware store where these boxes & covers are stocked. I would seat the box on top of one of those gaskets (cut to fit).
Mark where to drill
- Lay the box on its back (on a flat, sturdy surface). See photo 1.
- Note the distance to the center of the hole from both:
- Upward from the flat surface: 3/4 to 13/16"
- Downward from the front of the box down: 1-1/4 to 1-5/16"
- Lay the fixture on the table (photo 2). Use the front of the box to draw a line across the fixture's top.
- Mark a line on the top of the fixture (photo 3):
- 3/4" upward from the back of the fixture.
- Check that this mark is 1-5/16" down from the front of the box (the line you just drew using the box as a guide).
- Measure across the fixture's top, divide that distance by two, and mark this center point. (Photo 3. Measure from both sides to be sure you got it right).
Drill the hole in the top of the fixture
- Drill a small (approx 1/16") pilot hole. The step drill won't drift as much if this small (pilot) hole is present.
- Use a "step drill" to make a 7/8" hole. I bought mine from Harbor Freight. They sell 3-4 different types. Mark the correct "step" using a Sharpie so you can easily know when to stop.
Hint: If you do something wrong, and the hole ends up too large, you can fix it with an EMT "reducing washer" (1/2 to 3/4"). However, because the hole is so close to the back edge of the fixture, that washer will interfere with the back cover seating properly. You'll need to file a large part from one edge of that washer. (Try to drill it correctly. Otherwise you'll spend a lot of time filing.).
Install the box
It will be easier to leave the box off for now. (We needed to drill that hole now, before installing the dimmers.). When you eventually have to install the box, use channel-lock pliers to tighten the locknut. Photo 4
Hint: Try to position the locknut's teeth so they pose the least blockage to the rear cover when it's installed (photo 5). Even when positioned optimally, the teeth will block the door a little. But, the dimmer's circuit board does too (next step). You could file off 1-2 of the locknut's teeth if they block the rear cover too much.
Step 4: [FIXTURE] Install Dimmers
Look at photo 1. Familiarize yourself with those key topics. The rest of this step will make sense if you have that vocabulary.
I start with Dimmer #2 (the left side when viewed from the fixture's back). This is the dimmer which controls the active, motion-sensed brightness (the right-side dimmer when viewed from the front).
I use Leviton Trimatron RNL06 dimmers. They're cheap, and I don't think any other dimmer would fit inside this space. In this step you'll modify these dimmers to fit inside the HZ-5610 fixture. But, you don't have to do this. You could use a larger box (a Cantex 4x4x4 #5133709 is very large) without modifying the dimmers.
1. Prepare dimmer
1. Remove the two rivets with a 9/64" drill bit (photo 2). This dimmer has a plastic (bakelite/phenolic) cover. You don't need this cover because the dimmers will be protected inside the fixture's housing.
2. Shorten the inside end of the dimmer's aluminum plate (photo 3). This is the end which goes into the fixture (and within the recessed, curved area. See photo 1 again.).
This end has an electronic component mounted onto the plate. The plate serves as a heatsink. For this reason, I try to retain as much of the plate as possible, cutting the plate following the recessed curve.
The important part of this cut is that the circuit-board edge should make contact with the vertical flat surface (above the contoured/recessed area). The aluminum plate shouldn't be so long that it prevents the circuit board from butting up against that vertical-flat surface. (If this plate is too long, the circuit board will protrude further to the rear. That will interfere with the back panel seating properly.). So, don't let my OCD about maximizing the heatsink area cause this problem.
Note: The RNL06 Trimatron dimmer is rated for 150w LED (600w incandescent). If you stay below 20w (a 100w-equiv bulb), I can't imagine there will be any problem with that reduced heatsink area. I tested a 12w (75w equiv) and didn't feel any warmth from the aluminum plate behind that surface-mounted component.
If this matter were a concern (if you use a lot of watts), you could use a "double-gang" box (twice as wide), and install the dimmers to the box's cover (with thermal paste), using the box cover as a gigantic heatsink. Or, use the Cantex box mentioned previously, and not have to modify the plate at all.
3. Shorten the outside end of the dimmer's plate (photo 4). This is the end which will be closest to the rear cover. This is a straight cut. Cut it a tiny bit (1/8") shorter than the edge of the circuit board.
The reason for cutting the plate a little shorter: The circuit board will prevent the rear panel from seating completely. There's no way to improve that condition (i.e., you can't file off the edge of the circuit board. It has wire connections on its surface. Don't try.). Everything else is in your control. You can make sure the aluminum plate doesn't extend past the circuit board. (I.e., don't let the plate make the situation worse.).
Important: Ceramic capacitors are on this end of the dimmer. It's very easy to hit them (with the hacksaw or file). Be extremely careful because you can ruin the dimmer this way. See photo 4 for instructions how to cut this side with the least risk. I cut from the opposite side, and only partially. This protects the capacitors. Then I bend the unwanted material up/down until it breaks off.
You can use a file to shorten that edge. But, using a file is a very big risk of damaging those capacitors. You should be very careful if you have to file. (It's better to err on the side of this edge being a little too short.). The partial cut from the opposite side -- and bending the waste off -- is nearly foolproof. You avoid a lot of risk if that's all you have to do.
See photos 5 & 6 for the finished dimmer.
2. Drill the holes for the dimmer shafts
The dimmer shaft is 1/4" diameter. But, it must tilt into the hole (because one end of the dimmer's aluminum plate slips into a recessed area). Therefore, you have to create an oblong hole. (I thought a 3/8" drill bit pulled sideways [within the hole] would work. But, I get some ugly holes.).
Be that as it may: See photo 7, which shows how to measure 0.950" from the side edge, and 0.465" from the back surface (where it goes vertical, about 1/4" up the shaft). Drill a 3/8" hole there. Then enlarge the hole as best you can so the dimmer's shaft can tilt into it.
Note: You want the dimmer to be as far to the side wall of the fixture as possible. But, you don't want the dimmer to be angled (i.e., the side of the dimmer against that wall). The dimmer's circuit board should but flat against the vertical flat surface above the recessed area. Although, the screw could interfere with that. That's ok at this stage. When you install the dimmer with double-sided tape, the circuit board may extend over the screw. So, try to drill the hole oblong enough that it will allow that. And, at the same time, allow the dimmer to be as far to the side as possible (without it pivoting and following the angle of the side wall).
All of the above seems very tedious. But, there are only two requirements:
- While eyeballing the fitment: the aluminum plate should sit flat upon the ledge on the bottom of the fixture (see photo 1 again).
When you actually mount the dimmer (using double-sided tape), the aluminum plate can tilt down onto the surface below that ledge. This will let the circuit board go over the top of the screw (to some extent), and reduce the circuit board's interference with the rear panel.
- The circuit-board edge should touch (and be square with) the vertical-flat surface above the recessed area (which the aluminum plate slips into). If the circuit-board edge contacts the screw on that vertical surface, that's ok (especially during fitment. When you install it, the board may angle over the screw.).
This is a very tight fit. To the extent it's off, the back cover won't close as much as needed. The only adjustments you have are:
- The aluminum plate:
- The edge slipping into the recessed/curved area could be too long, not letting the circuit board contact the flat surface above the recessed area (which would cause the circuit board to extend further back than it needs to, which would block the rear panel more than it will even with perfect fitment).
- The edge facing the rear panel extends beyond the circuit board, blocking the panel more than the circuit board does.
Get those two things right, and it will fit correctly. (The rear panel will still be blocked a little. But any of the above that's not exactly right will cause that to be worse.).
To secure the dimmer, cover the aluminum plate (entirely) with Gorilla Outdoor/Heavy-Duty double-sided tape (black). See photo 8.
Hint: Use a razor or scissor blade to get under the protective layer at a corner. (You'll never get it started with your fingers.).
Add another layer where the ledge drops off (inside the fixture, see photo 1 again). That ledge is 1-1/4" from the closed back panel. You don't want this 2nd layer of tape to touch that ledge. Also, the aluminum plate will extend rearward past the surface you're adhering to. So, try to put the tape where do the most good, without it going as far as the ledge. See photo 9.
Note: three layers of tape makes it harder to grasp/adjust the dimmer shaft. I would only apply one additional layer to this "ledge" spot.
Finally, tilt the dimmer into position. Don't press hard until you have the circuit board positioned correctly. This fitment is important because it could interfere with how far the back panel closes. (Earlier in this step you spent some time ensuring this fitment. Make sure you get the same fitment when you push down and seal the tape. At best, the dimmer will tilt a little due to the ledge, and the circuit board will rise over the screw on the vertical-flat surface. This is good because it will let the rear panel close a little further.).
Just when you thought you were finished...
Do it again for Dimmer #1 (which controls the idle brightness, and will be on the left side when viewed from the front of the fixture.). See photos 10 & 11 for my final result.
Step 5: [BOX] Install Toggle Switch
I chose my toggle switch (Gardner-Bender GSW-125) because:
- It has pre-wired leads. Exposed screw terminals (or spade connectors) wouldn't work well inside this small box
- The lever (or "bat") is short. It doesn't look too out of place (or "frankenstein")
- The body of the switch is small (0.505"W x 0.990"L x 0.505"H + barrel height: 0.505" x diameter: .463"). That's important inside this small box (which has so much happening inside. See photo 1)
You can use any SPST on-off toggle switch. But, pay attention to those factors.
WARNING: If the fixture will be exposed to rain, see note at the end of this step. My fixtures are mounted in sheltered locations (under an eave; under a patio/porch roof). These instructions are suitable for me.
Where to mount the switch
I installed my switch on the lower-right side of the box. (The switch disables the motion sensor. I thought it made sense to be on the same side as the dimmer controlling the motion-sensed brightness.).
I mounted the switch as low as possible so the photocell can fit above it. (The photocell could mount elsewhere. This is discussed in the next step.).
Note: The box has a ground lug in one corner (see photo 1). You want to orient the box with that lug as shown. If it were in the opposite corner, and the photocell were installed on the right side (the same side as the switch), the ground lug could interfere with positioning the photocell.
Mark the spot:
1. Lay the switch inside the box, and trace its outline onto the box's wall. (Photo 2)
2. Using a t-square, draw the switch's edge up the inside of the box. (Photo 3)
3. The switch is 1" long. Mark its vertical centerline 1/2" from that outline you traced (photo 3). Draw that centerline up the inside of the box. In a moment, you will transfer that centerline to the outside of the box by visually aligning the t-square (looking straight down its ruler, moving your head side to side).
4. Set the t-square's ruler to the inside depth of the box. (Photo 4)
5. Move the t-square's ruler to the outside of the box, and transfer the vertical centerline from the inside of the box (photo 3) to the outside of the box (photo 5). Look straight down the ruler (from above) and compare its position to the insidevertical centerline.
6. The t-square's ruler was set to the depth of the inside floor. The switch is 1/2" wide. Therefore, the center of the switch is 1/4" above the t-square's bottom edge (You'll drill at the intersection of this horizontal centerline & vertical centerline). Photo 5.
Drill the hole
The switch's barrel is .463". Drill a 15/32" (.469" or 11.8mm .465") hole. Harbor Freight sells the pictured step drill which I used (photo 6. They also sell a "stepless" step-drill which might work better, for finer control).
Note: Do not overdrill this hole. When you get close to the correct "step," stop and check if the switch fits in the hole. When you get close, go slow & test frequently. It's easy to go too far.
Don't make it too stingy either (too space-saving, against the corner you pushed it into when marking the switches edges. See photo 2.). The finish ring isn't very wide. It won't cover a mistake. Therefore, I would drill the hole a little (generously) away from the cross mark for a margin of error. See photo 7
The switch has an inner nut (in addition to the outer finish ring) which lets you adjust how far the switch protrudes through the box (see photo 8).
CAUTION -- WET LOCATIONS
The HZ-5610 fixture is rated "suitable for wet locations." I use mine under eaves or patio/porch roof which protects them from rain. If your fixture is mounted in an exposed location, you should consider:
- A different (waterproof) switch. (Be mindful of the factors I described at the top of this step.)
- Gardner-Bender GSW-20 rubber boots (photo 8). They're a little long for this GSW-125 switch. But, they work. (You could install the GSW-18 switch instead. It has a full-length toggle which the boots are made for. That switch's body is a little larger. That could be a factor in the small box.).
- See also GSW-20H half-height rubber covers (photo 9). The toggle's lever pokes through a hole in the cover. This wouldn't be as floppy as the GSW-20 boots on the short GSW-125 switch.
- Mount the switch elsewhere. The second-to-last photo in Step 4 (after I installed both dimmers) highlights two alternate locations for this switch. The switch could mount 1) on the back panel pointing forward (between the dimmers). Or, it could fit 2) between the dimmers pointing down. Either of these locations would shelter it from rain. (You'd need to remove some material from the dimmers' aluminum plate for the switch to fit between them.).
I would probably do both 2 & 3.
Step 6: [BOX] Install Dusk-to-Dawn Photocell
There are many photocells available (smaller, or remote-mounted eye). The photocell I bought seems to be a commodity. Everyone (Home Depot, Lowes, Ace) seems to sell this same device under different brand names. This becomes obvious when you recognize the L-shaped seam on the side (photo 2) If you try a different photocell, be aware that some of them don't have a time delay. Without a delay, they can turn off when headlights hit them; or, strobe off/on during dusk & dawn (called "hysteresis"). The seemingly ubiquitous one I bought has a time delay which requires some persistence in the change of light before switching on/off. (It can take 5 minutes to turn on if I tape over it during the day.).
Where to point the photocell
These photocells don't usually come with instructions. I've read that there are considerations for where they should point. In this box, there's really only three options. Left, right & forward (through the box's cover). If you used a double-gang box (twice the size of what I'm using), you might be able to point the cell up.
I have two fixtures on a south-facing wall. I chose to point their photocells:
- The west-most fixture (at the backdoor): photocell pointed east (the right side of the box; my covered patio will block direct morning sunlight)
- The east-most fixture (under the patio): photocell pointed west (the left side of the box; this fixture is far enough under the patio cover, and with trees to the west, that it has little chance of direct sunlight shining on it at sunset.).
For me, I think these orientations will have the best "large view" of natural light, without facing sunlight (or direct sunlight hitting them).
Hint: If there were a problem with too much sunlight, I could slip a tube over the photocell to narrow it's vision (shade it).
Installing the photocell is much the same as the toggle switch.
- Choose which side of the box (left, right or front) to place the eye. (See footnote)
- Decide whether to center the eye, or have it more to the box's rear/forward edge, or top/bottom of the box (photo 1)
Example: If you install it on the right (as I do in this example, for my south-facing & west-most fixture, with the eye facing east), the toggle switch will limit how low you can mount the photocell. If I had oriented my toggle switch to travel front/back (instead of up/down), that would let the switch be mounted lower (and the photocell up to 1/2" lower).
- Drill a 21/32" (0.656) diameter hole. The photocell's barrel diameter is 0.650. My step drill has 5/8" (.625) and 11/16" (.688). You need a hole somewhere between those two steps. I used the step drill, but very carefully went to the 11/16" step, checking frequently until the barrel fit into the hole.
- Use the inside ring to adjust how much barrel protrudes through the box. (Photo 2)
Note: The barrel has o-rings for exposure to rain. If your fixture is not exposed to rain, you don't need to use these. (If your fixture is exposed to rain, you have a few other things to consider. See the warnings in various steps of this instructable where you should pay special attention to this topic.)
[Footnote 1] Essentially: the photocell should not face toward the sun, i.e. not south facing; nor exposed to direct sunlight. North is optimal; if north isn't an option, facing down to the ground would be good (but, you have to be concerned about the photocell "seeing" the its own light at night). If the fixture is under an eave or patio roof, facing up may be good.
Ultimately: The photocell should face a broad source of reflected daylight, not direct daylight. But, it shouldn't have artificial light shining on it (at night), nor see its own lamp's light too much. (If it sees too much of it's own lamp's light, you can partly cover the cell.).
There are things you can do to reduce problems. For example, partially cover the photocell surface to make it think it's darker than it is. Or, slip a tube over the photocell to create "tunnel" it sees through, to shade it from sunlight.
Step 7: [BOX] Install the Motion Sensor
The HZ-5407 motion sensor is attached to the box using 1/2" pipe (photo 1). This pipe can be black-iron (must be painted or it will rust), galvanized (doesn't have to be painted, but if it is: you need special paint), or PVC ("nipples" are called "risers" for in-ground sprinklers; there are PVC elbows. If you paint PVC, you'll need Krylon or something made for plastic.).
I used black-iron pipe painted with Ace satin "dark bronze" (color: 225A160) enamel. I tightened the elbow onto the nipple before painting, and cleaned the surface with acetone. I painted two coats, waiting a day between coats. I touched up after installing. (I used brush-on paint because spray would be messy, especially for touch-up.). I used an enamel primer. But, I don't think it's necessary. (I waited a day for that to dry too.).
I used a 3" long nipple. You can use any length. My first attempt (a prototype) used what's called a "close nipple," which is 1" long & continuously threaded. (A close nipple is used to connect two fittings without adding any significant length). See photos 2 & 3 to see what that looks like (compared to my 3" nipple, which adds 2" of length).
I used an 1/2" EMT locknut (against the box) so the pipe won't rotate. Pipe thread is tapered, EMT is not. Therefore, I had to "swage" the locknut onto the threads (before painting). I put the nipple in a vice, and used channel-lock pliers to rock the locknut 1/8-turn forward/backward, increasingly forcing it further, causing the threads to expand, and allowing the locknut to go further up the threads (which allows the nipple to thread further into the box. You don't have to swage the locknut all the way to the top of the threads. But, you probably want to swage it some distance. After you tighten the elbow onto the pipe, which you should do before painting too, then you can see how far the nipple threads into the box. When you see that, you may want to swage the locknut further. For example: if you're just a quarter turn from the elbow facing forward, you might swage another 1/4 turn.).
Hint: I removed this locknut before painting. After painting, I had to put the nipple back into the vice to thread the locknut up to where it needed to be. That marred the paint. In retrospect, I think I would leave the locknut on the nipple while painting.
I did not use a locknut against the elbow. (The elbow and nipple are tapered threads and will tighten to each other without the need for a locknut.).
I wrapped the end of the motion sensor's wires in electrical tape so they would feed through the pipe easily (photo 4). This also protects the strands from fraying. It was easy to push that through. (If you used a longer nipple, you might have to use some string to "fish" it through.).
Important: Feel around for sharp edges & burrs inside the elbow & nipple. (Sometimes elbows can have casting residue inside. You can break it off with a screwdriver.). It's best to do this before tightening the elbow & nipple together. A sharp edge or burr could damage a wire's insulation. (If you really want to be cautious, wrap the entire length of wires in electrical tape. But, I think that's overkill. If you can't feel anything very sharp, you'll be fine. But, it's easier to fix any problems earlier in this step.)
I used a screwdriver to keep the elbow straight while I cinched the locknut down against the box (photo 5).
Hint: The force you apply against the elbow is in the "untightening direction." That's a good reason to tighten the elbow onto the pipe very tight (before painting). You can also let paint get into that joint between elbow and nipple. That will help lock it together too.
3. Install box onto fixture
This was discussed in Step 3 (when we drilled a 7/8" hole in the top of the fixture). It's time to complete that step by attaching the box to the top of the fixture. (If your fixture is exposed to rain, revisit the warning in that step.).
Plug the rear hole:
If your box came with a threaded hole in the back (most do), it should have come with a plug for that. (If it didn't, you can buy 1/2" EMT plugs at the hardware store). It's important to plug that rear hole to keep bugs out.
WARNING: Plugging unused holes is also an important part of the "weatherproof box" being weatherproof. In my case the fixtures are protected from rain. If your fixture needs to be weatherproof, I have numerous warnings through this project about that topic.
Step 8: [WIRING] Connect the Wires (& Relay) Inside the Box
The diagram for this step shows the physical connections (image 1). A conceptual diagram was provided in the intro. That's easier to understand "how it works." This step's diagram is easier to understand "how it looks." You should compare the two.
1. Ground the box
Before starting, connect a wire to the box's ground lug (photo 2). Cut this wire long enough so it reaches the ends of the dimmers' green ground wires. Later, we'll cut these three ground wires (and a pigtail to go to the house's ground) to length, and put a wire nut on them.
I used stranded wire. I stripped one end, tinned it, and bent that into a hook to fit around the screw. You don't have to solder the end. You could wrap the strands around the screw once or twice, and tighten it down. (Soldering the end makes it more durable if you had to remove it, reinstall it, etc.). It's good practice to use green wire to identify ground wires.
2. The rest of the wires
The rest of this step can be very confusing. You have wires coming from SIX devices, often the same color wires (black, white, red). What I found to be essential is:
Assign a color to each device:
- Yellow = Dimmer #1 (idle dimmer)
- White = Dimmer #2 (active, motion sensed dimmer)
- Blue = Dusk-to-Dawn sensor
- Green = Motion sensor
- Red = Toggle switch
- Black = Relay
Put a small "flag" (colored tape) on every wire to identify the device it comes from. This will let you easily see both the wire color and which device it's for.
If you don't do this, you'll be double-checking everything forever; very prone to mistake; it won't work when you connect it to electricity. I can't stress how absolutely important it is to identify which device every wire comes from (at a minimum: the four black wires for the two dimmers. They can be maddening to keep straight.). The hardware store sells a six-pack of colored electrical wire for such purposes.
Use Acco paper clips to group the connections together
This is very useful to collect the wires together before cutting them to length. You can study each collection, the wire colors & tape "flags" to verify you have the correct colors (coming from the correct devices). The Acco clip will loosely hold them together while you double- & triple-check everything. You can think about where each collection will fold and lay into place. (You'll probably re-route wires so things fold/lay more cleanly.).
3. Route three wires out of the box (into the fixture)
You can immediately eliminate three wires from the confusion by routing them into the fixture (photo 3).
- Dusk-to-dawn sensor's black wire
This wire is the source of electricity for everything. This wire will connect to the house's hot wire.
- Relay's common output (blue wire)
This wire is the output of everything. It will connect to the lamp socket's hot/black wire.
- A length of white (neutral) wire
This will be a "pigtail" wire which connects all the white/neutral wires inside the box to the house's white/neutral wire. Important: Make this wire long enough to extend 2" past the bottom of the fixture.
4. Group the remaining wires together
Follow the diagram and group the wires together (photo 4) using Acco clips to hold the groups together. There are six groups. When they are all grouped, spend some time double checking each one.
This looks ugly, daunting, bewildering. But, it's not that bad. Just focus on getting each wire into the correct group. This is where the colored-tape "flags" will help you quickly verify the wires (their source). Be patient, and compare your groups to the diagram.
During this process of double-checking, you might want to re-route wires, finding that they cross better above/below each other.
Hint: The four black wires from the dimmers are almost too short to work with. If you remove the fixture's top-cap (or, leave it off back in Step 2), you'll have more space to work with those short wires. You could also extend them 2-4" before starting this project (solder a short length to each one)
5. Cut wires to length and connect with a nut
Now that you have the wires grouped, routed elegantly, and triple-certain they're grouped correctly: you can cut them to length. Work on one group at a time. Think about how it will fold/lay into place. Cut the wires for that length. (Be careful not to be too conservative/stingy. It's easy to cut them too short. Err on the side of too long.).
Strip about 1/2" off the end of each wire. Twist each wire's strands clockwise. Then twist the wires together. Then twist a wire nut clockwise onto that. (Photo 5)
WARNING: Be on the lookout for any stray strand that might be pushed down, and exposed below the nut. That can cause a short. It happens easily. Look closely for any bare strands poking out the bottom.
Choose a proper-sized wire nut. For only 2 wires: I use the grey Gardner-Bender grey (#19-001). For more wires, I use the light blue (#19-002). The relay came with dark blue wire nuts which seem to be between those two sizes. Look inside the nuts to get an idea of how large they are. You'll have a sense for which nut would work best for the amount of bare wire you need to connect.
There are YouTube videos showing how to use wire nuts. You want to be sure all the wires going into the nut won't pull out. No exposed bare wire (no stray strand poking out the bottom).
6. Close the box
Push/fold the wire nuts into comfortable positions. Reinstall the end brackets (photo 6) & install the front cover (photo 7).
Hint: Consider placing a note inside the box explaining where to find documentation about the components & wiring. See the attached PDF for an example.
Step 9: [WIRING] the Wires on the Back
You have five more things to do before you can connect the light:
1. Connect relay's common output (blue) to lamp-socket's hot (back) input.
In the previous step, you pushed the relay's common output (blue) outside the box. That wire connects to the lamp's hot (black) wire. (In step 1, you cut the lamp-socket's wires off a gutted circuit board. I mentioned then that it was important to cut them as close as possible to the circuit board because it would be a little short to work with. This is where you'll notice that.).
Strip 1/2" insulation from each wire (photo 1). I used a grey wire nut (discussed previous step).
2. Lengthen lamp socket's neutral (white) wire
In the previous step, you pushed a white (neutral) wire outside the box (a pigtail to other white wires connected together inside the box). You were instructed to make that wire long enough that it extend about 4" beneath the bottom of the fixture.
The lamp socket also has a white (neutral) wire which we need to extend just as far (so both can connect easily to the house's neutral wire).
Hint: In step 1, when you gutted the fixture, you removed a circuit board with a long white wire. You can use that wire for this step. (That's the step when you also cut the lamp socket's white wire from the other gutted circuit board. You can see now why I said it's important to cut that one as close as possible to the circuit board. It's a little tight to work with now.).
Solder the wires together
Strip 3/8" insulation from the lamp socket's white wire, and the wire you're using to extend it. Don't twist the wires together. Instead, push their ends together to "merge" the strands (photo 2). When they're merged, you can pinch them together and give a little twist to help them stay together while soldering.
Note: How to solder is beyond the scope of this instructable. There are many online tutorials about soldering.
I like to solder it this way because I think it produces less pointy edges that could poke through the tape/heatshrink used to cover it. After soldering, I use small wire snips to cut off any sharp points. You could use a file instead.
I then put about 5-6 layers of electrical tape around this solder joint (photo 3). I don't tape up/down the wire's insulation. I just want these layers to cover the exposed metal.
Next, I apply heatshrink (photo 4) to hold the tape in place. I don't trust tape by itself (I've seen it come loose over time). I don't trust heatshrink to cover a solder joint by itself either (I've seen sharp edges poke through). So, I use both. The tape is heavy enough that nothing will poke through. The heatshrink keeps it from coming undone. (If I didn't use heatshrink, I would tape up & down the wire's insulation for better grip.).
3. Lengthen dusk-to-dawn's black (hot) wire
In the previous step, you pushed the dusk-to-dawn sensor's black (hot) wire out of the box. That wire needs to be extended to about 4" below the bottom of the fixture (for easy hookup to the house's hot wire too).
When you gutted the fixture (step 1), you removed a circuit board with a length of black wire. You can use that to extend this (photosensor's) black wire. Strip, solder, tape & heatshrink (like the white wire above).
Photo 5 shows these extended (white & black) wires, and how they should route when the rear panel is installed.
4. Combine and extend ground wires
In the previous step you pushed a ground wire out of the box, into the fixture. Now you'll combine that wire with the two dimmer grounds (photo 6). You'll add a pigtail for connection to the house's ground. This pigtail should reach 4" past the bottom of the fixture, like the black & white wires (which will connect to the house too).
5. Rear Panel
There is a collar near the top of the panel which will hit the EMT nipple. (This collar fit the post you broke off in step 1.). You should cut this collar off with a hacksaw (maybe file it down smooth too. Photo 7). Be sure no remnants interfere with the panel closing as far as it otherwise can.
The panel should close as shown in photo 8. The dimmers' circuit boards are the limiting factor (or, should be if you got the fitment correct when installing the dimmers). They will kick the panel out at the top. But, it should (at least) be flush like mine.
Hint: Be sure no wires pinch between anything that would prevent the panel from seating as far as it can. Example: It's easy for a wire to sneak between the dimmer edge and panel.
WARNING: The HZ-5610 fixture is rated for wet locations. This project is intended only for protected locations (under an eave, a porch/patio roof). This is another example of why this project isn't suitable for wet locations: that flush edge could bring water down the inside of that panel's surface, where it would spread out upon the dimmers' circuit boards (which contact that inside panel surface).
If I really had to make this work in a location exposed to rain, I would seal the panel edges (especially the top edge) with silicone sealant. (Also the hole where the collar was). Or, better yet, use a larger box & put the dimmers inside that! I use a single-gang box. A double-gang might work. Or, Cantex's 4x4x2 #5133705 (or 4x4x4 #5133709 would certainly be spacious enough).
WARNING: Follow the instructions which came with the fixture (such as: turn off house's power before doing this).
I wrapped bailing wire around the fixture (where fixture and box meet), and tied that to the wall-mount bracket so I could easily make the connections with both hands (photo 9).
I used a grey Gardner-Bender #19-001 wirenut for the ground wire. I used the wirenuts the fixture came with for the hot & neutral wires to the house.
Hint: At the end of the previous step, I suggested placing a written note inside the box (explaining where to find info about the wiring & components).Consider putting a note behind the fixture too.
Turn the power on. When the sun goes down, the lamp should come on. You can test this by taping over the dusk-to-dawn sensor mounted in the box. However, it can take 5 minutes. The dusk-to-dawn sensor has a time delay so it doesn't react too quickly to light changes (which could be annoying if it turned off/on a lot).
Important: You should have painted over the motion sensor's dusk-to-dawn sensor. You don't need it. And, it would be confusing to not know which one is on or off.
You should be able to turn the right-side dimmer up/down to control the motion-sensed brightness. (Turn the left dimmer to control the idle brightness.).
You can flip the toggle switch down to prevent the motion sensor from affecting the light. This is handy to adjust the idle brightness. Or, if you're using the outdoor space and don't want it changing brightness. (I.e., you can disable the motion sensor, turn up the idle brightness to what you want while using the space. When you're done, return the idle brightness to what it was, and enable the motion sensor again.).
The motion sensor has a switch to test its motion sensing too. (Also sensitivity to motion, and how long motion-sensed brightness stays on.).
Step 10: Additional Ideas
Take a look at my instructable for a neighbor-friendly patio light. In that project, I made a "shade" inside the globe to limit how much light shines forward. This makes it easier on the eyes, and more Dark Sky friendly. The idea is that more of the light goes straight down or backwards to reflect off the house's wall.
In that project I used 4 sheets of paper cut increasingly narrower for "steps" (or feathering) on the sides. I'm now using 6 sheets of paper without any side feathering. This creates a more "full-cutoff" effect, with almost all the light coming from the bottom and back-lit wall (photos 1-3). It's very pleasant (photo 4). I'm also using a slightly brighter (350 lumen) bulb.
Note: The camera doesn't have the range to capture what this looks like in person. If you saw it in person, the patio would look about as bright as the photo depicts. But, the fixtures would really look as soft & muted as the individual closeups. They aren't as glaring as that patio photo.
2. Alternate wiring (off/on blink when returning to idle mode)
When my lights' switch back to idle brightness (after being motion-sensed bright), the bulb turns off briefly (a half second), then the desired dim (idle) intensity. It didn't bother me. But, I finally realized this is due to dimmer #2 (active, motion sensed) being powered by the motion sensor. When the motion sensor's "on time" expires, both dimmer #2 and the relay coil lose current at the same time. However, it takes a half second for the relay to switch to dimmer #1 (idle). The result is the motion-sensed intensity turning off a half-second before the idle intensity turns on. That's the momentary off/on blink.
If this were an annoyance, the solution is to connect dimmer #2 (active, motion sensed) to the same place dimmer #1 (idle) is. The motion sensor would only energize the coil. (See the updated diagrams added to this step, images 5 & 6).
However, one possible concern with that wiring: motion sensors have their own internal relay to switch on/off. Relays typically have a "minimum load" requirement which ensures enough arc/heat occurs (on contact) to keep the relay contacts clear of corrosion. If a motion sensor only powers 0.050 amps (to the relay-coil used by this project), that load might not be enough. It might fail sooner.
I changed one of my fixtures to be wired with this alternate wiring. I'll be able to see if there is a difference in the motion sensor's lifespan.
Personally, I think the original (not alternate) wiring makes more sense. That's how the motion sensor was made to work (powering the lightbulb). But, the slight off/on effect when switching back to idle mode might bother someone. So, I wanted to provide this alternate wiring to at least explain what's happening & the solution. (Another possible solution could be to use a capacitor with the original wiring. That could supply electricity to the motion-detected light a little longer, until the relay switches to the always-on idle dimmer.).
3. Next projects
1. I'm having an idea to make a truly Dark Sky compliant cutoff hood as a patio light (with this "dual brightness" circuitry built in). Whenever I do that, I'll add a link here.
2. I'm also wanting to implement this circuitry using an ordinary, off-the-shelf patio light fixture. (I.e., all the circuitry contained in a larger box.). I'm thinking I may do that with my low-key security lights.
[Footnote 1] I was using a 200 lumen bulb in that project (with 4 sheets of paper feathered along the sides). Now I use a 350 lumen bulb with 6 sheets, no feathering. It's almost the same amount of light in my yard. But, it's easier to look at because it's more diffuse, reflected light (much less forward-emitting light). The bulb I used:
Philips 40w-equiv (5w actual), 350 lumen, Vintage "amber light" (2000k), # 5ST19/VIN/820/E26/CL/GL/DIM (Home Depot), UPC: 0 46677 55680 8
Participated in the