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🔌General Home Automation => Automating Your House => Topic started by: shorty73 on November 04, 2011, 12:17:22 AM

Title: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: shorty73 on November 04, 2011, 12:17:22 AM
Hello, were having our yard landscaped right now and the contractor was going to put in a dial timer to control the low voltage lighting.  What I would really like to have is the lights come on at dusk, then shutoff around 10:30 pm every night.  I did some looking at X10 products and did not see a product or an easy combination that would allow me to to that?  Any suggestions?  Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Brian H on November 04, 2011, 06:37:42 AM
You maybe able to use a appliance module or XPFM fixture module to control the transformers.
Along with AHP running on a  CM15A interface. With the timers downloaded to it.

That said.
The CM15A seems to be out of stock and the substitute CM19A/TM751 is not a good combination.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Noam on November 04, 2011, 09:27:35 AM
There are a few ways you could do this.

The low-voltage lighting system I installed at my house came with a dawn/dusk sensor on the front of the power pack. That's the only method of control the manufacturer included with that model.

When I installed it, I covered over the sensor (so the system always thinks it is night, and will turn the lights on any time the power pack has power.

I then cut the plug off the power pack, ran it into a wall box, and ran that wire inside. I wired on a new plug, and plugged it into an appliance module. I use AHP (with my CM15A) to turn it on and off at the appropriate times.

Every few years, the tape over the light sensor dries out and falls off. I suppose I could open up the power pack, and just short across the sensor, but that is more work than just putting a new piece of tape over it.

The other way to do it would be to have the power pack be on all the time, and wire a Universal Module in-line with the low-voltage wiring. That would probably mean having the power pack and the Universal Module mounted indoors, which may or may not work in your situation.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: dave w on November 04, 2011, 10:13:42 AM
For such a limited application, and you do not indicate you have aspirations to go in to further automation, I would consider one of these "On at Dusk, off in X hours" timers.

http://www.lampsplus.com/products/black-light-sensing-dusk-to-dawn-two-outlet-timer__n0157.html

http://www.lbclighting.com/sa200.html?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=nextag&_vsrefdom=Shopping
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: rjniles on November 06, 2011, 10:05:16 AM
Here is a write up on a system I use to control 5 low voltage lighting transformers:

Lighting Control with X-10 System

T   X-10 mini timer         Enclosure in utility room

SS   X-10 Super Socket         Duplex Electrical box

PF   X-10 Power Flash            ď

TX   120 VAC to 9VDC transformer      ď
      
AM   X-10 Appliance Module      5 units @ each lighting transformer

PC   Photo Cell            Right side of house next to electric meter

Starting with all units and lights off

At 5PM Timer T sends ON code to Super Socket SS set to unit code 5, no action other than power applied to Power Flash PF module.

Photo Cell PC senses darkness and closes power circuit to Tansformer TX, TX sends 9VDC to indicator lamp & PF. PF sends ON code to (5) Appliance Modules AMís set to unit code 1. All 5 AMís turn on and apply power to lighting transformers. All lights on.

At 9 PM, Timer T sends ON code  for unit(s) 1. If photo cell has not turned on lights by this time, this will turn on all AM units and turn on all lights.

AT 10 PM, Timer T will send OFF code to unit 5, the SS unit. This will remove power from the PF unit and prevent it (and the photo cell) from controlling the lights for the rest of the night.

At 11;30 PM, Timer T will send the OFF code to unit 1 (the 5 AM units). This will turn off all lights. The circuit is now reset and ready for the next evening.

At any time the lights can be turned off or on with the mini controller in the master bedroom. Control Button #1.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: dhouston on November 06, 2011, 11:29:40 AM
This combo should do what you want.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Dan Lawrence on November 06, 2011, 12:46:40 PM
Guess what?  I checked your link.  This popped up: Item is Not Available.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Brian H on November 06, 2011, 01:03:00 PM
Smarthome still lists it as in stock.
http://www.smarthome.com/71929/Minotaur-Engineering-LS1-X10-Light-Dusk-Dawn-Sensor/p.aspx
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: shorty73 on November 06, 2011, 11:20:29 PM
Wow, great information.  I didn't even think I was going to get any responses.  I have been busy the last few days and didn't have time to check back in.  Thank you to all who responded!  I ought to be able to make one of these options work for me!
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: luke03 on November 10, 2011, 05:14:32 PM
I know a person who use photoresistors to measure the light, feed that into WebControl A/D input, then sending X10 RF to control the outdoor light.  That seems working really well for him.  Before he was trying to get sun rise and sunset time from local newspaper web site to turn the outdoor light one and off. Using photoresistor taking care of cloudy or rainy day problem.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 10, 2011, 09:17:49 PM
Take a look at this device on eBay.  You could also locate this device after an X10 appliance module and turn the X10 module on prior to dusk and off at any time you like.  The lights would come on at dusk and go off at a preset time via the X10 control.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Woods-Dusk-To-Dawn-Photoelectric-Outdoor-Timer-Comes-automatically-night-/130598635879?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1e68490967

Don
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: shorty73 on November 11, 2011, 11:10:55 AM
Well, what I decided to do was use a hardwired photosensor in the 110v line coming to the outlet the low voltage transformer will be plugged into.  That will let it turn on at dusk.  The outlet will be the PA011 X10, so using the Minitimer, I can have it turn off at 10:30 or whenever, and also be able to manually turn it on at any other time I want (as long as its dark).  Pretty simple and should do what I want.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 11, 2011, 12:25:25 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you are wiring the light sensor ahead of the PA011.  Doing so will require sending the on command sometime after the light sensor has switched the power to the PA011.  That would be sometime after dusk and defeats the intent of the light sensor.

I think you want to place the light sensor in the circuit after the PA011 so that the control cycle works as follows:

  1) At any time during the daylight hours, send the PA011 an on command.

  2) At dusk, the light sensor turns the lights on.

  3) At a pre-programmed time, the X10 control turns the PA011 off.

At any time during the night, you have the option of turning the lights on or off.
Wiring the PA011 after the light sensor might attenuate or filter the X10 signal.

Good Luck
Don
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: shorty73 on November 11, 2011, 01:58:07 PM
Yah, that's not good.  I didn't see any low voltage sensors that could be wired in the LV side.

Does anyone know what state the PA011 is in when power is restored to it?  Off, on or it remembers the previous state?  I guess I can go wire it up and test it out.  That would be perfect if it went on.  Otherwise if it remembers, I guess I could turn it back on before dawn and then it would be on when the photosensor restored power at dusk.

I haven't had time to play with the timer yet, but maybe I could have it send out on signals every 15 minutes over a few hour period.  That way once the photosensor restores power, it will come on sometime around dusk.

Have I managed any more logic blunders...?

---I guess the transformer power cord could be cut and the photosensor put there, too...
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Brian H on November 11, 2011, 03:46:00 PM
I believe the PAO11 is state it was in at power removal.
http://www.x10pro.com/pro/pdf/pao11.pdf

Does this Light sensor you want to use. Have a relay in it? If it has a triac made for incandescent bulbs only. It could be flaky driving a PAO11.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: shorty73 on November 11, 2011, 04:04:43 PM
The PA011 directions say it can sense when a load is applied, then automatically turns on.  So, once the photosensor restores power, shouldn't the PA011 sense the transformer load and turn on?

We're going to have quite a few light on the circuit, so we'll definately be over 40watts.  This is the sensor I ordered:

http://www.amazon.com/Westek-SW103CTC-4-Outdoor-Swivel-Control/dp/B000Z9DCF6
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Brian H on November 11, 2011, 04:27:10 PM
Thanks for the link to the photo sensor. I found the users manual on the www.AmerTac.com site. It does appear to be able to do the load you want to control.

Local sensing requires the power to be applied to the PAO11 and then the switch on the load toggled from On to Off and back On. I am not sure if it will trigger On when power is applied with the LV transformer connected. Actual test would show if it would or would not go On.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 11, 2011, 04:40:43 PM
I believe the PA011 is the same as the SR227 which uses a stepping relay to control the output.  I have posted a schematic of the SR227 if your interested.  I use the SR227 in my system and I can confirm that it will stay in the state it was in when the power is removed and re-applied.  To design the device to switch from off to on automatic when power is restored would be very undesirable.

http://forums.x10.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=9437.0;attach=2078

The stepping relay will remain in the same position if power is removed and reconnected.

Regarding the directions that state that the PA011 can sense the load, I believe that assumes the input voltage is present when the load is switched.  In your configuration, the load would be present when the input to the PA011 is re-applied

I believe you will need to connect the 115 vac light sensor to the output socket on the PA011.  The light sensor will not be able to switch on until power is re-applied to its input.  If you connect the light sensor ahead of the PA011, you will not be able to re-close the relay in the PA011 until after dusk.

Low voltage light sensors are more difficult to produce because of the higher currents they would need to switch.  I don't know if they are available or not.

Don
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Brian H on November 11, 2011, 04:52:36 PM
The users manual for the SW103C,SW103CT indicates when first installed {power applied ?}. It takes several minutes for it to go Off. My guess is it is adjusting to the light levels.

That may effect where you have the Light Sensor connected in respect to the PAO11.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 11, 2011, 07:25:42 PM
Most of the light sensors use cadmium photo resistive elements as the sensor.  The resistance is highest at low light.  They also have a long delay, using a resistor and capacitor to integrate any sudden changes in the light level.  The light sensor is probably charging the capacitor when initially powered. (adjusting to the light)

I will look at the manual on the light sensor, but for the moment I have no new ideas.

Don



Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: shorty73 on November 11, 2011, 10:35:07 PM
Tested the PAO11 in the garage; when power is restored to it after being disconnected, it remembers the previous state.  So, it appears I can either cut the transformer plug wire and put the photosensor there, or put it before the outlet and set the mini timer to send on signals every 10 or 15 minutes from about 5pm to 9pm to kick on the lights after the photo sensor restores power.

I also tried to get the controller to sense an applied load (shop drop light), but it didn't work. 
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 12, 2011, 01:21:23 AM
I tested my SR227 to see if it would turn on when the load is switched.  i noticed that it would not switch on the first time the load was connected, however, dis-connecting and re-connecting the load caused it to turn on.  I repeated the test two times with the same results.

Looking at the schematic of the SR227 that I reverse engineered, it does have load sensing.

I think I have a simple mod to an SR227 that would cause it to switch from off to on if power to the SR227 is switched on.  If the SR227 is already on, the circuit does nothing.  Let me know if you want the details.  I have not tested this mod and I don't have a spare lying around that I could test it on.  If anyone wants to modify an SR227 and test the circuit I will provide the details

Don

 
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: IPS on November 12, 2011, 01:20:47 PM
This is how I turn my Xmas lights on. Am sure a lv transformer and a light sensor can be incorporated in the circuit without using PA01.
I installed two LM 11 modules in a outdoor flood light fixture and instead of bulbs ,installed screw in outlets for the the lights.
Ahp macros and cm 15a control all the lights flawlessly. It also works with BVC. For the x10 modules to work properly, I mixed the light strings with at least one of the old incandescent type. It's been working for over a year.

Sometimes simple things work too.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 12, 2011, 06:39:22 PM
I can't find any data on an LM11 module.  It sounds like it's a screw in lamp dimmer.

Putting a transformer load on a lamp dimmer module is a good way to blow out the triac in the dimmer module.  Transformers should only be connected to appliance modules, especially high current transformers.  The transformer can not handle the slightest dc component and will saturate causing high current spikes which damage the triac.  Low power transformers can be damaged by high current and overheating if the transformer should saturate due to an unbalanced waveform on the input to the transformer.  The last thing we want is an electrical fire.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: IPS on November 12, 2011, 07:29:08 PM
Thank for poining it out.
Sorry for quoting the wrong number. It should read  SocketRocket Screw-In Lamp Module (LM15A). I don't know if it is dim able. It would if interesting to know if it can be used with LV transformers.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Brian H on November 12, 2011, 07:55:24 PM
LM15A uses a triac to turn the AC On and Off.
Though it does not dim. Just full On and Off.
X10 says Incadescent Loads Only, but some have had good results with some brand CFLs.
Driving a transformer maybe a problem.
They have a tendency to have the triac short from bulb burning out surges.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 12, 2011, 10:39:23 PM
ALL ABOUT TRIACS

Most of the triacs used in lamp modules are not rated for inductive loads where the current is lagging the voltage.  Some newer triacs are better suited and specified for inductive loads, however the current still needs to reach the holding current for the device.

The waveform that supplies a 60Hz transformer needs to be free of any dc component.  The waveform with a triac switch will have a short period with zero output right after the zero crossing due to the turn on and holding requirements of the triac.  This dead time, after zero crossing must, be the same for both haves of the cycle or a dc component will be present.

Transformers normally exhibit some inductance.  The problem with inductive loads is the lagging current prevents the triac's anode current from rising to the minimum holding current during the very short time the triac's gate pulse is present.  This is also why the triac modules have a minimum lamp wattage rating.  This failure to reach the triac holding current is one of the reasons low power lamps tend to flicker.

CFL and LED lamps don't care much about the small dc components, however the current draw by these lamps is less than drawn by the incandescent lamp of equivalent  output.  This can result in problems with the triac reaching the minimum holding current.

With the standard 2 wire X10 wall switch module, the current that the module passes to power the circuit in the module, causes CFLs to flicker because the low current charges the lamp's internal inverter filter capacitor until the voltage reaches a value that allows the lamp to turn on.

The result is the CFL will not turn off completely.

Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: dave w on November 13, 2011, 04:57:54 PM
FWIW

Silly me,

I used Socket Rockets to control inductive wall warts which fed some "flameless candles" in the bedroom used for accent lighting. It took a year but both transformers finally blew their safety link in their primaries. The thing to note is the wall wart plastic cases had melted and deformed around the plug. This happened slowly over the course of the year they successfully powered the candles.

A lesson was learned. Even when using a triac driven only in "full on" state (no dimming possible) the turn on distortion created by the triac and the inductive load, ain't good for the transformer. My switching wall warts work fine.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 13, 2011, 08:30:58 PM
NEW SOLAR POWERED LIGHT SWITCH DESIGN

How I addressed my solar light switch issue.

I have a ceiling lamp above a stair way landing that also has a sky light.  The stairway has no windows, so at night it would be very dark.  We like to keep a low power light on at night.  The circuit has a wall switch at the bottom of the stairs and again at the top.  I had installed an automatic light sensor in the skylight area to turn the light off during daylight hours.  I recently installed an X10 WS4777 to replace both light switches.  I modified the WS4777 adding a white wire connected to neutral.

The light sensor had been installed between the wall switch and the light fixture.  I purchased a 9 watt dimmable LED bulb at Home Depot for just under $10 and installed it in the fixture.

The light sensor did not like working with the X10 wall switch.  During the day, the light sensor would turn the light off which would cause the X10 module to stop conducting (the triac would not stay on).  This would cause the light sensor to turn on again.  The result was, the light would cycle on and off every few seconds.

My solution:

I have designed a solar powered light switch to replace the existing solar sensor.  My design uses a 6 volt photovoltaic solar panel which is only 2.2" x 2.2" and will attach to a single gang switch cover.  Inside the single gang box is the new circuit.  I used a 1.5 farad super cap that is charged during the daylight by the solar panel  CMOS logic drives a MOS FET connected across a bridge rectifier to switch the light on.  The capacitor discharge current should be less than 1ua.  At that rate, the super cap should be able to keep the FET on for a week.

I have ordered the solar panel and super cap.  I will report on the project again in about a week.

Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: IPS on November 13, 2011, 08:56:22 PM
Thanks BE for a nice write up.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: systemdm on November 14, 2011, 11:01:57 AM
I would be interested in seeing this layout......... #:)
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: shorty73 on November 15, 2011, 01:04:33 AM
Just wanted to say thanks for the help to everyone, I think I have a workable setup now...   >!
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 19, 2011, 08:21:56 PM
Light Sensor Project Update

The 6V Solar Panel that I ordered was not available, so I have made a few changes to the design to work with a 5V Solar Panel.
I replaced the MOSFET with a logic level MOSFET that will work with the lower voltage.
This design will fit inside a PACTEC CNM-0000 plastic enclosure. (see attached)

I have also added an alternate design that uses a photo resistive sensor and requires a 3 wire connection.

Both designs should be fully compatible with X10 dimmers.

I have laid out a printed circuit board using ExpressPCB software and ordered 3 boards.  
Each board will have 2 each of the above mentioned designs for a total of 6 each boards on my order.
The boards will not arrive until 11/28/11.

I'm attaching a schematic of each design and will send a copy of the ExpressPCB files to anyone that provides an email address (send me a PM)
However you may wish to wait for my final progress report on the project.  At $65 per order, I don't plan on ordering more boards at this time.

I need to pull the schematics due to some design problems but I will re-post them once the problems are resolved.
Title: Re: Light Senor with Timer Possible for Controlling Landscape Lights?
Post by: Backward Engineering on November 20, 2011, 11:55:43 PM
More background on controlling light loads (CFLs and LED lamps)

I found this very informative white paper on designing triac circuits that explains the importance of the triac's holding current.

I have attached the paper.

Don