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Wiring a Photocell for an Outdoor Light Fixture

How to Add a Photocell Control for an Outside Light Fixture. The solution is to get a photocell that matches the voltage configuration you have wired the outside light fixture for, and wire it according to the diagram.

Matching a Photocell to an Outdoor Light Fixture

Electrical Question: I have a question about wiring a 1000 watt outdoor light. It is now wired for 240 volts and would like to switch it on and off with a photo cell. I have a photocell and was just wondering do you switch just one leg to shut it on and off and if that is the case why is a 240 volt photo cell needed? Each leg is 120 volts just looking for some understanding.

This electrical question came from: Joe, a Handyman from Branch, Michigan.

Dave’s Answer:

Thanks for your electrical wiring question Joe.

Photocell Control for an Outside Light Fixture

  • There are applications where a 240 volt load can be switched on and off using just one leg of power, but I would not advise it unless it is a built in control circuit of the equipment.
  • The photocell to control your 1000 watt outdoor light fixture needs 240 volts to operate the photo cell, and because the 240 volt circuit does not have a neutral you cannot use a 120 volt photocell which does require a neutral.
  • The solution is to get a photocell that matches the voltage configuration you have wired the outside light fixture for, and wire it according to the diagram.
  • Photocells are available for most voltages and various watt or electrical circuit load requirements.


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4 Responses to “Wiring a Photocell for an Outdoor Light Fixture”
  1. emmie says:

    I bought a photocell for mounting outdoor. Could you please send me wringing diagram?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Emmie,
      The voltage of the photocell as well as the make and model will need to be identified and the country where the photocell is to be installed for an accurate wiring diagram.

  2. Isaac Howser says:

    I have a friend that wants to hook a photocell up in place of a time clock how is this done

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Isaac,
      A photo cell is wired just like a switch, only it needs a neutral. Photocells may also be used with a time clock if the lights should turn OFF at a special time, but accurately turn ON at dusk, very energy saving.

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