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How to TEST a PHOTO-ELECTRIC switch??

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How to TEST a PHOTO-ELECTRIC switch??

Old 04-25-2011, 10:36 AM
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Default How to TEST a PHOTO-ELECTRIC switch??

My neighbor's dock lights no longer work and so far I've confirmed that power is getting to the timer box, and wires have all been clipped and stripped. Still no lights, so I wonder whether the photo-electric switch is bad?

It has three wires; larger red and larger black, then smaller black in the center.


Can I use a multimeter to test it? If not, how to test one?
Old 04-25-2011, 10:51 AM
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Now I've never worked on photo-electric switches before, but....
a switch is a switch regardless of what kind of switch it is. In this case, use your mulitimeter, put a heavy rag/ blanket over the photo-electric switch and take a reading, then shine a flashlight into the photo cell and see if the ohm meter moves. I'd say if the meter doesn't move then the cell switch is toast. ?
Old 04-25-2011, 10:55 AM
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black tape over photo eye to make it close.
Voltmeter on big black and red outputs.
Old 04-25-2011, 11:21 AM
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....then it's a bad switch, because the meter doesn't close (go to zero) whether there's tape over it or not.

I asked because I thought that maybe it needs a power source to operate. No?
Old 04-25-2011, 12:45 PM
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Rick, the PE switch is likely solid state - no movable/mechanical parts whatsoever. Given that, they do need power to operate - that's why the 3rd wire is there. Some include a delay in the circuit to prevent them from cycling with rapid light changes - like from automobile headlights hitting the sensor at night.

Easy enough to diag though. If the line side is hot, remove the PEC from the circuit. If the load comes on - it's got to be the PEC.

Dan

Last edited by ss3964spd; 04-25-2011 at 02:00 PM.
Old 04-25-2011, 01:38 PM
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Is this one of the neighbors with the lights that pissed you off?
Old 04-25-2011, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by twentynine View Post
Is this one of the neighbors with the lights that pissed you off?
hehehee, my lips is sealed.......


I got a replacement switch and will go over at dusk to try to figure out how to rig the three wires to the dock-light timer box.

Trial and error is going to prevail unless the mosquitoes are out. ;?
Old 04-25-2011, 07:29 PM
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Light bulb?
Old 04-25-2011, 07:38 PM
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There seem to be four lighting systems on the dock and various porches; installed by the deceased owner who was a good engineer but a hap-hazard electrician DIY. I see no reason why there's a Timer that's hooked to a Photo Eye. Seems like two switches to do the same thing.

Tonight I got half of the dock lights to work; nothing else. Looks like the wiring under the walk-way might be corroded from the last ten years of hurricane high water, so a lot of checking and up-grading will be done.

That photo eye was the tip of the iceberg, it seems.
Old 04-26-2011, 08:23 AM
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Update: gentlemen, there are (at least) two types of PE cells, and a normal one (120V) will not work on a low-voltage landscape transformer.

Since learning that, I'm going to splice into the power lead and install the PE that I bought into the 120V side of the transformer/timer. Cutting power to the timer part won't be a concern since the PE cell will be the On/Off switch for the dock lights.
Old 04-26-2011, 08:52 AM
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I am thinking there is a PE in the circuit along with the timer because they only want the lights on for a set amount of time after dusk? If the PE is upstream of timer.
Or if it is downstream of timer then the lights only come on after dusk no matter what time they are given power. And then go off at a certain time like midnight.
Old 04-26-2011, 08:54 AM
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I have also seen dock lights wired with a motion detector and a relay to turn the lights off when the motion of someone fishing their dock at night comes along.
Old 04-26-2011, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by DoubleO7 View Post
I am thinking there is a PE in the circuit along with the timer because they only want the lights on for a set amount of time after dusk? If the PE is upstream of timer.
Or if it is downstream of timer then the lights only come on after dusk no matter what time they are given power. And then go off at a certain time like midnight.
The original PE was downstream, so it had to be a low-voltage unit. Neither Lowes nor the local electric supply place had any of those, so I used the standard voltage PE and spliced it into the power cord (upstream from the transformer/timer).

Black tape over the eye didn't get the dock lights working, so I'll go over at dusk and see what happens. I know the transformer is OK because the lights worked last night when I put the timer on Manual ON.

power cord Black to PE Black
All Whites bundled together (power cord, PE, transformer side of cord)
Transformer side Black to PE Red
both power cord Greens are together

If the lights don't come on could we have a defective PE? How to test it?

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