Fixing the flood light

My flood light had not worked for a while now because the battery-operated remote motion sensor kept the lights turned on all the time, wasting lots of electricity. Today, I went to Home Depot and purchased a new one with the built-in motion sensor, hopefully getting rid of the need to replace batteries. But as it turned out, the diameter of the plate for the new flood light was 4″ instead of 5″ for the existing plate. I had to return it. Thanks to the liberal policy of Home Depot, they took it back without asking any question.

During the replacement process, I discovered there is a flip door that opens underneath the remote sensor. After switching on the “test” mode, I discovered that the remote sensor seemed to work OK. I re-seated the batteries and slided the mode to 1-min turn-off time. After testing for a few times, I was now convinced that the remote sensor was working just fine. The 1-min turn-off makes the “validation” so much easier and faster. Also, there is an LED that lights up when motion is sensed. This also helped the validation process. I guessed my original problem was that the batteries weren’t seated properly and I was testing it during day time, which caused the motion sensor to turn off completely due to the photocell within the sensor. (There is a switch inside the battery compartment to turn on the motion sensor during day time.)

My main learnings are as follows:
1) Don’t assume the system is broken under you understand how the system works first. Since I didn’t have the instruction manual, I had to check a comparable system at Home Depot to truly understand the definition of the remote sensor switches.

2) Before buying a new system, make sure the it will fit into the old system, or you may end up with a lot of retrofitting – it’s hard to cover a big hole with a small plate. In this case, it’s cheaper to replace the system with the same model.

Furthermore, during the same trip to Home Depot, I purchased a couple of timer-controlled sockets for the two front portion lights because we tend to turn on the lights at night and forget to turn them off even in the next day, resulting in lots of wasted electricity. There are several ways to resolve this problem. 1) Buy a timer-controlled light sockets that turn off the light after a certain number of hours or the built-in photo-cells can turn off the lights automatically when the day light is detected. 2) Use a timer switch to control the turn-on/off time automatically. 3) Use low-wattage fluorescent light bulbs and make it a habit to turn it off in the morning.

Well, here we go again. Obviously, I chose the #1 option (timer-controlled socket). The timer socket extends the light bulb too far down, thus exposing the light bulb – not pretty. #2 option costs $20 and some wiring work and I dread programming any timer. I decided to go with #3. It is simply not worthy of my thinking about it. Sometimes, the best solution is just changing your behavior. In the case, I can make it a habit for me to turn it off on my way back from picking up the newspapers. Done!