Installing automatic light controls can help you save on energy costs in some cases and help protect your home in others. Two primary types of automatic light controls exist, those with complex sensors and those with simple sensors. When it comes to installing automatic light controls on your porch, you must make decisions based on your lighting wants and needs. Though the technology used in automatic light controls differ from system to system, they all use the same basic control.
Two types of automatic light controls exist for porches. The simple kind usually goes by “dusk-to-dawn light control” or some similar generic name. This name comes from the fact that these controls keep an outdoor light turned on throughout the night. The complex type controls multiple lighting systems simultaneously, including those on your porch. This type of system adjusts the level of lights throughout the day and night to meet your needs. Dusk-to-dawn lights on porches work as security lights, while complex systems help control light levels so you can socialize or relax on your porch in comfortable light levels.
All automatic light systems use the same basic control sensors. A dusk-to-dawn light control, for instance, usually consists of nothing more than a basic light fixture with a built-in sensor. When light reaches low levels at dusk, these systems automatically turn a light on. Complex light systems also use sensors, though these sensors connect to more advanced controls than those found on dusk-to-dawn light fixtures. Some light systems use timers to turn on and off automatically at predetermined times, though these system constitute timer lights, not automatic light control systems. Keep in mind that automatic light controls installed outdoors may read heavy cloud cover as night conditions and keep lights on throughout the day depending upon the sensitivity of the sensors.
Advanced light control systems contain central computer elements. These systems install somewhere in your home and connect to all the lights you want to control with them. The sensors on complex automatic light control systems take information about light levels in a given space – your porch, for instance – and relay this information back to the central computerized system. This central system determines the required intensity of your light bulb in these lighting conditions and provides the amount of power required to operate your light at this intensity.
Dusk-to-dawn automatic light control installation requires very little work. These units usually screw into normal light bulb fixtures. Once installed, you put a light bulb in the control and simply leave the light on. The control monitors the flow of energy to the light bulb. Complex automatic light control systems require complicated installation that you should leave to professionals. During installation, you must choose ideal light levels for locations throughout your home and input this information into the central computer of the system. If you have experience working with computers, automated systems and electrical wiring, you may be able to install your own automated lighting controls by running them through a computer program. This procedure, however, requires very advanced skill.
- Photo Credit Jeff Randall/Lifesize/Getty Images