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Motion detection LED flood lights

PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
edited August 2018 in Wolfpack Sports
I'm trying to figure out if I want to put one on the new house.. maybe like on the front of the garage.  Sounds good in theory but I'm skeptical if the motion detection actually works on these things?  Does it turn on when the wind blows?

If they work okay, next question would be is it worth $360 for the light, running the wiring, and installing it?


  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487
    Been there and retrofitted.  Couple of observations.  FIRST.....you can retrofit about ANY outdoor lighting system.  I have 7 MS Lights around the house.  Did that back in 2013.  They are on three separate circuits.  I suggest that you put in a perimeter circuit with three way switches.  You can turn them on from various locations.  I would have a dual or triple spot on every corner.

    I retrofitted and added an additional light....so I have THREE on one circuit with three separate switches.  This was on the CORNER or Perimeter spots 

    I put "locks" on two of the switches.  The ones that I have have a "Quick ON" Pulse...so that if you pulse them OFF and ON, they will stay on until the Photo Cell cuts them off in the AM.  That resets the circuit and they are them "Motion Sensitive" at dusk.

    BUT, there are PITFALLS.  Do NOT place them where the sensor is within range of a Heat Pump or an AC unit.  The heat and the "waves" or the air motion will trip them.  

    Next up....trees and bushes will trigger when the wind blows.  I have deer and opossums that trigger them at night.  I think the COLDER the ambient, the easier it is for a mammal to trigger.  SO LED is a must as your power bill will suffer.

    You CAN always go BACK to regular fixtures and use the three way switches. 

    The FRONT Porch lights are large coach style lights and they work fine.....except at Christmas when I put out spotlights.  Really messes them up....but I use a timer.  When the Spots go OUT....the lights come on for 6 hours....that is how I set them.  So, sometime in the early AM, they time out.  I LIKE THE FRONT LIGHTS....

    Your cost seems high.  I bought mine at Lowes and they were not that expensive.  I would purchase my lights ONLINE and then let the electrical contractor install.  That iw what my BIL did with his plumbing fixtures (faucets and shower and bath).  He ordered really high dollar at a discount and let the plumber install. 

    MEMO to the FILE.  DO NOT PUT AN LED in your Garage Door Opener.  Your system will go bananas.  The LED, even the high $$ Cree, LEAK RIF.  Halogen of Fluorescent is the only option.  SOME LED's on the outside (like over a side garage door) will also cause issues.....as will the U-Verse "remote wireless" transmitters for the boxes.  Wonder what it will do to our brains...?  

  • YogiNCYogiNC Posts: 458
    PFN, you made no mention of whether you have neighborhood lighting.  I replaced my motion sensor at the garage with a dusk to dawn LED coach lamp.  Looks great, low wattage and great light.  You won't have to worry about things that set it off.  it doesn't interfere with my door openers.  Got it at Costco for under 30 bucks.  If there's a light on your garage then it's easy to replace it with one of these.  The more light you have the less likely intruders will visit.  I live in the country with no neighborhood lighting.  Between my next door neighbor and myself it's pretty bright in our little area and no breakins in over 20 years.  Other neighbors 1/4 to 1/2 mile away have not been so lucky.
  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    edited August 2018
    Roo, yeah I'm worried about the MS flood lights tripping at the slightest mosquito fart.  Sounds like it's wouldn't be too terrible a problem.. need to conisder Yogi's suggestion and maybe just run the coach lights each night.

    Yogi, yes the only reason I'm considering adding them to deter crime.  The neighborhood is suburban and therefor has it's own lighting.  Perhaps having constantly on LED coach lamps on the garage throughout the night is a better solution.  Might see about getting a timer like Roo has to turn them on every night.

    I'll be adding a 6 foot tall aluminum fence with a lockable gate around the back yard which should make it much less likely for someone to come in through the back.

    While on the topic of home security.. On the inside of our current home I put up some motion sensors (similar to these here) that trigger an alarm plugged in right next to my bed.  Idea is to give me some extra time to get to my 2nd amendment right if someone's snooping in the middle of the night.  Likely never need em but helps me sleep at night.
  • YogiNCYogiNC Posts: 458
    With the one I bought at costco it was dusk to dawn, no timer needed.  They still got 'em and at a very good price.
  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487
    All my lights are motion sensitive 
    Alll have photo eyes
    You  can program fixed time on at dusk. Time values are adjustable. If the MS is triggered the ON time is also adjustable 

    There is is a sensitivity setting for MS 

    Most have the quick OFF/ON toggle that leaves them on for most of the evening 

    Not that much more expensive than regular ones

    My DW loves the two front porch coach lights with 100 wast equivalent LED

    put in lots of circuits for versatility 
  • TexpackTexpack Posts: 2,381
    My one MS light isn’t LED yet. Mine has a feature that keeps it on half blast dusk ‘til dawn and full blast on motion. Mrs Texpack prefers to always have light in the driveway when she comes home from work without having to set the MS off. If I convert to LED I’ll have to find dimmable outdoor floods. I assume those are in a store nearby but I haven’t checked. 
  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    edited August 2018
    Builder is wanting us to put in a 90amp subpanel in the unfinished basement for $990.. say it would be needed and make things a lot easier if we ever want to finish the basement down the road..  sounds reasonable to me, but I'm hardly an electrician.  Does this make sense to yall?
  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487
    That depends....You did not say how many SF will be in the basement.  In the OLDEN days, you could power a 1500 SF house off a 100 Amp breaker.  NOW, with all the added appliances and such, even with diversity, that would be impossible.

    IF you are doing the ENTIRE basement (as in the basement is the size of the foundation< then MAYBE.  I would want a 220 VAC 100 Amp panel down there.  A stove will pull 40.  Unless you plan on putting a workshop there with a lot of HD tools, then that panel should definitely make life easier when you finish it out. 

    The NEXT question is HOW do you plan to finish it?  If you stud it out, then you need to have the panel recessed (or get one of the slim line panels) so that the panel is flush with the sheetrock.  You can run your circuits through the studs.  If you put in a suspended ceiling, you can also use that space for your wiring chase.

    I would spend a little time noodling..."What IF" and "This is what we see..." as in the finished area.

    IF you are going to go with a stucco or rolled on finish over the block, then you will have to run wire mold or conduit every where.  I once finished a basement by grinding the corners of the blocks so that the walls were "reasonably" flat.  I filled the mortar joints and then got a latex "sand paint".  The paint was about 2 Qts of latex paint and 2 QT of SAND....COARSE.  You rolled it on with a short nap roller.  I had it tinted to a "linseed" color.  It worked great.  It was durable in that my kid's friends could NOT destroy it...

    Made it nice.  I used wire mold and painted them with an oil based paint....mixed to match the walls.  The surface mounted boxes disappeared. 
  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    Roo, it's 1100 sq ft down there.  I'm still not even sure we would ever want to finish it.  If so no kitchen would ever go down there.

    I'm leaning towards doing it, if for nothing else the unfinished basement only comes with 2 or 3 electrical outlets.  I assume this subpanel would allow me to put in several more.
  • You're gonna do it...  sooner or later...  that depends on what's going on upstairs....

    Circuit wise -- there's not a lot of difference between two 20as and two 30as or three 20as and one 30a ... but I'd go with 100a total...

    GO PACK!

  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    edited August 2018
    Builder only gives me option for 90a if they do it, so I'm a bit boxed in.  I assume it'd be a pain in the ass to have someone come out and add a 100a subpanel in the basement (with main box in the garage) after the home is finished?
  • YogiNCYogiNC Posts: 458
    You could have him run a 100A circuit down there that's deadheaded into a panel box with a knife switch.  then late you could come in and replace the panel box with a switch panel.  The box I'm talking about costs less than 50 bucks.  Wire and box should run less that 150 depending on how far away from the main feeder panel this is.
  • Yogi with the game winner...  

    Back in little league baseball... Coach taught us...

    When you're on first with nobody out and the batter hits the ball to right field, you go halfway to second, stop, look at the rightfielder.  If he catches the ball, you hustle back to first.  If he doesn't make the catch, you don't stop until you get to third...

    Troll... you got a long way to on your new house and Mrs. Troll has not asked us any questions here -- yet.  I'm 100% sure she's working on "her" list of extras on the upstairs....

    Go half way with the main wire to a cutoff switch for now...

    GO PACK!
  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    yeah that does make a lot of sense.. will have to talk to him and see what he thinks
  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487

    Here is the El Cheapo Solution....and it will, I THINK, meet MOST codes.

    WHERE is the sub panel coming from or being fed?  If I understand the original concept, it SHOULD be coming out of a 200 Amp Panel.  There will be a Dual Pole (240 VAC) Circuit Breaker in there....with a 90 Amp Breaker.  That powers the Sub Panel.  Think about having an "Emergency Panel" where you put the critical things like lights, one AC, Heat, etc.  You feed THAT from the Main Panel.  THEN the feed (wire) goes to an Automatic Transfer Switch.  You have a generator.  WHEN you lose power, the ATS switches from the MAIN (200 A panel) to the Genny and ALL you emergency or critical circuits WORK.

    OK....Stay with me.  You can DO that by reserving a "Place" in the 200 Amp Panel for the 90 Amp Circuit Breaker.  THEN you run a #4 AWG line to the Sub Panel.  I personally would want a #2 but that depends on the distance.  You will get LESS voltage drop in the #2.

    NOW, you put in the Sub Panel.  Here is where I get a bit confused....Ordinarily, you MUST have a MAIN breaker or a Disconnect in the Sub Panel.  That can be accomplished TWO ways.  A MAIN Breaker, which would be at 100 Amps.  OPPS....CODE VIOLATION.  You have to protect the wiring and you can NOT "increase" the load downstream.  SO, it is EITHER a 100 Amp Breaker in the Main Panel....with a 100 Amp disconnect on the PANEL.....OR..

    You have a FUSED Pullout Switch.  That would have TWO barrel fuses, each rated at 90 Amps.  SO, to do work in the Sub Panel, you PULL OUT the "Disconnect".  Code requires a LINE OF SITE disconnect, which is usually in the SUB Panel.

    NOW....that is what I understand you are getting....but the 90 Amps throws me as a 90 Amp Main Breaker in a Sub Panel is an ODD ball.  You can PROBABLY find one....but it would be really unique.

    SOLUTION......DO THIS....

    Leave a TWO position HOLE in either side of the 200 Amp main breaker.  Mark is as FUTURE DEDICATED Sub Panel.  You can put in a 100 or a 90 (if you can find it) Circuit Breaker there.  That will be your FEED.

    Run #4 (#2 if the inspector will let you) from the MAIN panel to the PROPOSED location of the 90 Amp (really probably a 100 Amp) sub panel.  Use a LARGE metal handi box and coil up sufficient wire inside.  Insulate the ends.  Screw on the cover.  Mark it as "Future 100 Amp (90?) Basement Sub Panel.  

    In the 200 Amp box.....do the same....leave sufficient wire to reach (plus 10" or so" the PROPOSED or FUTURE 100 A (90?) Circuit Breaker.  LABEL THE WIRE.  Make sure the ends are insulated.

    NOW, you only spent $$ for the wire and running the POTENTIAL Service.  You spend $50 or on the "Utility Box" to house the coiled feed in the basement.  When you get ready, if ever, to install and populate the Sub Panel.....

    You install the appropriate Feeder Circuit Breaker and connect the pre-installed and "run" feed.

    You install the appropriate 100 Amp (90?) Sub panel and then run your circuits and populate the sub with appropriate 15 and 20 or maybe even some 240 Dual CB's.

    THAT is how I would do it.

    NOW....THAT brings us an interesting question....since you are planning ahead.....

    DO YOU WANT EMERGENCY GENERATOR or STANDBY POWER?  If so, then NOW is the time.  Off one of the 200 Amp panels, run a sub panel (next to it).  Put ALL your 120 and 240 circuits that you want in that panel.  You will need a larger (maybe 50  - 80 Amp) Feeder Breaker from the panel.  You THEN have all your emergency circuits in ONE Sub Panel.  

    HERE is where you need a good electrician....one that also installs Generators....

    You will need to have a "Large Junction Box" between the Main and the Emergency Panel.  You will need to put some LOOPS or SLACK inside this box.  

    When you (if?) decide on a Standby Generator, this is where the Automatic Transfer Switch will go.  You will also need to run a line to the OUTSIDE.....where you plan on putting the Generator.  Again....#4 will carry 100 Amps.  SO, you have the wiring in place for installing the Generator. 

    The only OTHER issue is where to put the Generator.  Typically, they come set up for Natural Gas.  THEN you change the orifice for Propane (if NG not available) and then you run the piping and such for a buried (usually) tank....located at CODE distance from the house.  I THINK that there is some "control" circuitry....so you also need to run a piece of 1" conduit or plastic conduit from the ATS location to the outside.  The installer can pull the control wires and the 120 Charging circuit (so the battery stays charged to start the genny).  BINGO....you are good to go.

    To give you some idea....if you have a 18 - 20 KW (100 Amp or so) standby generator, in the Raleigh market, you will pay UPWARDS of $10 - $15 K.....JUST to install the unit....plus the cost of the unit.

    You MIGHT spend $1000 or so MORE to put in the Emergency Sub Panel and the wiring....and conduit.  BUT, the installation would be childs play....The COST of installation is REMOVING the circuits FROM the main panel and splicing and then installing a Sub Panel and also running the large feeder (incoming from the Genny) to that panel.  

    Something to think about.  Yogi knows where I am coming from....

    If you want MORE info or advice....email me....you have the address.  I have done TWO of these....plus helped folks plan for emergency generators.....the old fashioned way.

    So much to plan.....so little time to do it......so much to OVERRUN your cost and fray your nerves and put a strain on your marriage....
  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    So much to plan.....so little time to do it......so much to OVERRUN your cost and fray your nerves and put a strain on your marriage....

    Amen to that!

    Thanks for the detailed response.  I'll have to go back and re-read it.  It's a lot to consider.  I don't anticipate doing a generator so that simplifies things a bit.

    May end up pulling a ShoeNC and just throw money (in this case $990 dollars) at the problem and move on.  All the other necessary decisions that come along with building a home are needing to be made in parallel.
  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487
    I could give you a list longer than ShoeNC’s Ignored NCAA violations of the folks that said “I’ll never need a Genny” and how we had to come up with a plan

    at the very LEAST, sit down with builder and electrician and go over where the critical living lighting and receptacle and kitchen circuits are going to be put on your load panels.

    If you have city water, then that eliminates a water pump.  If you are on or near a lot of subdivisions, then maybe you will be OK.

    I live in a reasonably densely populated area ow Wake County about a mile from the Yates Mill Park.  That is right down Lake Wheeler from the NCSU farms.

    I am in the third and final phase of a 150 or so lot subdivision.  Our main power feed comes through a wooded area with high trees.  It is OVERHEAD.  Fran....almost two weeks without power and I finally got a CPL rep to put our subdivision a little higher on the list after all the critical restoration was finished and it was luck of the draw or a lottery pick for any given subdivision of our size or smaller.

    find out from your neighbors about ice storms.  The last major one took us out over a week.

    IF you have a well or are in an area that is prone to nuance outages from gusty winds, you are at risk.

    putting your critical living circuits, including the garage door opener in one panel is easy.  No cost. Next up us heat?  I have propane logs.  Can exist with that and not have to power a heat pump.  

    On the panel that that has your emergency circuits, I would leave a 240 double pole breaker slot OPEN.

    run a #6 AWG line from the panel to a wall receptacle inside the garage, near the overhead door.

    Don’t hook up anything.  Just have the wire in place.  Later you can put in a 50 A 240 circuit breaker and a 50 A RV receptacle.

    i have that to power my motor home when it is home in the driveway.

    i have an 8 KW gasoline Generac.  That powers all that I need.  Again, I don’t power a stove or an HVAC .  Use the microwave and and Holland grill and have a single propane burner.  Cook we can.  8 KW needs 33 A feeder.  If you put in a 50 A line, you can use up to 12 KW genny.  

    If my downstairs heat pump was in the proper panel, I MIGHT be able to run it with some load shedding.  Cost of the line without being hooked up.....less than $100.


    If you EVER plan on having a freezer or a refrigerator/ freezer in your garage, have the electrician run a dedicated line to where you think it will be.  Code says it must be labeled and be something like 6 ft above the floor.  Otherwise if you plug into the standard GFCI circuit in the garage, odds are you will get a NUANCE trip and everything will spoil.  The defrost circuits on refrigerator/freezer circuits “leak” and give the GFCI a false positive.  That is why your microwave and refrigerator and dishwasher are ALL on dedicated NON GFCI circuits.  That is CODE.  So planning ahead will save you a lot of misery.  Ever notice that some garages have an extension cord tacked to the ceiling running from the garage door opener?  That receptacle is NOT GFCI protected and odds are the homeowner has experienced a nuance trip and lost food and had to clean up a smell box.

  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    Freezer will end up in the basement.. GFCI outlets are only required in bathroom areas by code I thought due to potentially getting wet.

    We've got a natural gas fireplace we can turn on in case the power goes out in the winter.  Power goes out due to hurricane in the heat of the summer I suppose we'd have to suffer through a couple of hotter than heck weeks.  We did it through Fran back in 96 and we survived.  I think those kind of storms wreaking havoc this far inland are a once in a decade or two kinda event though..

    We're supposed to meet with the electrician later this week.  I assume adding the 90amp subpanel in the basement at build time would let me add several more outlets in the basement whenever I get the chance without too much headache.
  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487
    Negatory on your GFCI statement.  YES, within 6 (memory) Ft or perhaps "arms length" on the receptacle.  So, if you are washing dishes in the sink, then all receptacles within reach MUST be GFCI.  Same for bathroom.  

    BUT, you do NOT have to have a GCFI on the outlet that powers the Washer in the laundry room.....UNLESS you have a "Laundry Sink".  THEN, you MIGHT only have a SINGLE outlet for the WASHER if it is close to the outlet.  Dedicated, single point outlets are exempt.

    Refrigerators and microwaves and dishwashers are exempt.

    OK....any OUTLET in the garage or outside MUST be GFCI protected.  WHY....if you were barefooted or such, then you are GROUNDED and you are at risk.  I once had a problem with a Dryer in a house with a new floor (curing).  Every time my wife with push the ON button and had her hand on the cabinet, she got shocked.  I finally attached a lead of a VOM to the cabinet, told her to take off her shoes, and then had her hold the OTHER lead of the VOM.  When the VOM got to around 50 VAC, she screamed and cursed me.

    I got the Building Inspector, Duke Energy Rep (they installed the OUTSIDE 240 Breakers), the electrician and the builder.  I asked them to participate and offered to re-run the experiment.  They declined and then found that the Ground Strap and the Neutral Bonding strap between the Main Breaker and the Sub Panel with the 240 VAC breakers  had been "left out".  That was fixed.....right then.  Never a problem.

    SO, if you have outlets in your garage, they will be GFCI.  That was code in 1990 in NC as my house has them.  

    If you EVER decide to put a Refer in the Garage, you will then be forced to do like so many folks (and I have done this for countless friends and relatives).....put an extension cord on the ceiling.  The Garage Circuit is typically 20 Amp.  They feed it directly to the Ceiling.  Then it runs over to a "Wall".  They put in a GFCI there (it is protected) and then all DOWNSTREAM outlets are protected.  CODE....CODE....CODE.  Been there....done that.

  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    oh snap you are right the garage outlet in our current house is a GFCI outlet..guess I just never paid much attention.  Interestingly enough our freezer is plugged in there and it hasn't tripped it yet after several years *knock on wood*
  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487
    Trust ME....It is just a MATTER of time.  I am the Owner/Moderator of a 6000 member Motor Home Yahoo group.  The refrigerators in our Motor Homes are ALL fed through a GFCI....even though at HOME....we use dedicated circuits.  Heaters cause havoc with GFCI's.  I also have a friend that ran an electrical contracting company.  He had several trucks.  He said that he got about 10 or calls every week about garage GFCI's and freezers.  If you have an OLDER (Non-Automatic Defrost) freezer, then you don't have the heaters.  Heaters are needed to start the Auto Defrost cycle.  Heaters are needed to slightly melt the ice cubes so they eject from an auto icemaker.  Heaters, no matter the quality, over time AGE and the insulation gets a little moisture and then you have a LEAK to the body.  NO electrical danger....just a NUANCE thing is someone has plugged the refrigerator or freezer into a GFCI.  GFCI's also get old and are more crotchety and more "sensitive":.  THEY will nuance trip and you replace them.  Buy a GOOD one such as Eaton or Levitron....not the Lowes Utilitec House Brand...

    Do yourself a favor.  Get a 14 Gage extension cord and run it from the garage door opener outlet down to the freezer.  You have NOT lived until you have had to clean out rotting meat from a chest freezer that "tripped a GFCI".  I used bleach and such and finally had to recaulk or reseal the interior seams as the "smell" was in the foam.  So, the food had a "WHANG" as my mother used to say.  Eventually, the smell dissipated and the insulation dried out.  BUT, sealing the interior and putting in coffee and wet newspapers allowed us to use it quickly again.

    This is a WILL not an IF situation....  SO, if you plan on moving the Freezer to the new digs....make SURE you have a dedicated NON-GFCI circuit in the Garage....no sense in repeating stupidity....

  • PackFansNationPackFansNation Posts: 412PFN Referee
    Point taken!
  • TheAliasTrollTheAliasTroll Posts: 2,577PFN Referee
    Roo, quick question for ya.. so say the main panel coming into the house is 200A and then they go ahead and install the 90A subpanel down in the basement....  Is the 90A pull from the main 200A panel such that rest of house now down to 110A, or does it add an additional 90A overall to the overall house and main panel still has it's full 200A?  Apologies in advance if this is dumb question!
  • AdventurooAdventuroo Posts: 2,487
    OK....here's the drill.  Typically, most homes (say 2000 - 4000 SF) will have TWO main load panels.  They are 200 Amp capacity....or that is the rating of the main disconnect. 

    Next up you populate the panel with circuit breakers.  If you use a 50 Amp Double or Dual pole, that is 50 amps on the Line 1 and Line 2....for a total of 100 amps.  I assume that you know that each side of the panel is divided.  If you have a 240 VAC appliance, then you draw or use an equal amount of current on Line 1 and Line 2.  120 VAC are used on either side.

    NOW, comes what is called "Diversity":  I have two panels.  One has breakers totally 475 Amps and the other one has 600 Amps (add up all the breaker markings).  I DID add a 50 Amp Double Pole motor home supply, which I also use to backfeed that panel with my generator.

    Therefore, the original electrician put in 500 Amps PER panel....even though the rated capacity is 200 Amps.  He assumed that I would never load the panel more than 40% of the potential connected load.  THAT is diversity....in that you will not have enough light fixtures for the 15 lighting circuit.  But, since he ran #14 wire, he had to, by code, use a 15 Amp breaker.  Same for the outlets.  SOME, like the garage are 20 Amps but most of the interior circuits are 15 Amps.

    NOW,to your question.  YES, it would appear that the the remote sub panel will take 90 Amps out of the 200 Amp panel.  PROBABLY the logic is to have a central panel in the basement where you can do individual runs LATER ON.  If the sub panel was not used, then you would have to run all the individual circuits.....a cost that you MIGHT NOT incur if you never finished the basement.  

    If it were mine, I would probably just put in the feed and not the panel.  I would ALSO have a critical need sub panel so that I could add an Automatic Transfer Switch for a stationary generator.  BUT, it is not my house.
  • TheAliasTrollTheAliasTroll Posts: 2,577PFN Referee
    Thanks for the info, Roo.  Appreciate your insight into all this.  I talk to the builders again tomorrow and will present this to em.
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