Can One Photocell Control Multiple Lights?

In this article, we will discuss if one photocell can control multiple lights. Photocells are in demand for outdoor lighting because of the many benefits that it provides. Aside from saving energy, it also helps reduce light pollution. If you are planning to install a photocell for your outdoor lighting, you might be wondering if it can control multiple lights. We will find out the answer below.

Can one photocell control multiple lights? One photocell can control multiple lights just as long as they are on the same line. It works like a manual switch that can turn on and off multiple lights. Make sure that you properly install the photocell and connect it to multiple lighting so that it provides the best lighting benefits.

As compared to other lighting fixtures, photocells are efficient. How do you add photocell to an outdoor light? Is photocell a resistor? Can you add photocell to outdoor lights? These are some of the questions that we will discuss. Check out the rest of the article below for more tips and information.

Can one photocell control multiple lights
Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

What is a Photocell?

A photocell is a device that senses when the sun sets or rises so that it turns on or off lighting fixtures according to the time of day. It makes use of sensor technology to save energy and money. Photocells can be used in commercial, industrial, and residential applications. You can also check out this article that discusses if all photocells are the same. We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.

How to Add Photocell to Multiple Outdoor Lights

To add photocell to multiple outdoor lights, there are steps that you need to follow which include determining the number of lights that you will install, the circuit, where to get the power, how to install conduit pipes and the wires. Let us learn more about these steps below.

Number of Lights

The first step that you need to consider is to determine the number of lights. This will help you determine the right size of a photocell that you need to use. Take note that most photocells have a power rating in watts which determines how many lights can be controlled by a photocell switch.

Number of Circuits

You also need to determine how many circuits you need. To do this, you need to check the total number of lights that you have and the power rating. Next, calculate the current that each light will draw from the supply. If you have more light fittings that a circuit breaker cannot carry, you need to use another circuit to provide power to the other lights.

Power Source

Next, you need to determine your power source. Avoid using a power supply from the existing indoor lighting circuits. This can be dangerous especially if you have a lot of outdoor security lights to install. The ideal thing that you can do is to create a separate circuit for the lights that will be controlled by a photocell. We have also shared this article that discusses what causes a photocell to go bad. You can check out the article to find out more about the topic.

Install Electrical Conduit Pipes

The next step is to install the electrical conduit pipes. Once you have determined the number of lights that you will install, it is easy to work on the electrical conduit piping. This is because you now have a clear picture of how you will route the conduit pipes according to your goal.

Install the Wires

After installing the conduit pipes, you need to work on installing the wires. Take note that this is a critical part of wiring a circuit that is controlled by a photocell. A photocell features three terminals or cables so that power can be connected to it. Make sure that you install the wires properly so that it will be easier to connect the photocell and to avoid any issues as well.

Mount and Connect the Photocell

The last step is to mount and connect the photocell. See to it that you mount the photocell properly so that when the lights are switched on, it does not trigger the photocell to turn the light off. Aside from that, make sure that you place the photocell in the right area of your home.

✅ Video – How to Install Photocell – Dusk to Dawn Exterior Lights

Fort Knox Co. shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses how to install a photocell. If you are thinking about installing a photocell for your outdoor property, watch the short video below for helpful tips and ideas.

Wiring a Photocell Switch

It is easy to wire a photocell switch. Doing this allows you to save on your electric bill. Photocell switches are commonly used on outdoor lighting fixtures. Below are the steps on how to wire a photocell switch.

Step 1 – The first step is to remove all of the electrical power from the light fixture that you want to place the photocell.

Step 2 – Pull the light from the electrical box with the use of a screwdriver. Next, remove the two wire nuts from the wires which connect to the light fixture and power source. The light fixture should be placed on a flat surface for easy installation.

Step 3 – Next, you need to remove the connector hole. You can find this at the front of the outdoor lighting fixtures. Remove the metal knockout cover by placing the tip of the screwdriver to the knockout hole and using wire pliers to strike the other end of the screwdriver.

Step 4 – Next, you need to insert the metal end of the photocell to the hole. Make sure to tighten the switch using a small lock nut from the back of the lighting fixture. Use wire pliers to tighten the nut. Three wires are attached to the photocell switch. White wire – this is the neutral wire of the switch. Black wire – this is the main power that goes into the photocell switch. Red wire – this is the switch wire that comes from the photocell.

Step 5 – The next step that you need to do is to connect the wires. Twist all three of the white neutral wires together making sure to cover the bare copper ends using a wire nut. Then, connect the black wire of the photocell switch to the black wire which is the power source from the electrical box of the fixture. Twist the wires together and cover using a wire nut. Lastly, connect the red wire that comes from the photocell to the black wire that is attached to the light fixture.

Step 6 – The last step is to attach the lighting fixture to the electrical box. Make sure to change the light bulb of the light fixture. Moreover, you need to adjust the metal band that is located in front of the photocell so that the proper amount of light enters the switch and activates.

Do You Need to Use Special Photocell for LEDs?

LED lights need a special photocell as compared to the traditional bulbs. Take note that standard photocells need a small current to operate in the daytime when the light is off. On the other hand, LEDs run at a low voltage so the small current causes interference, flickering, and other issues.

Is Photocell a Resistor?

A photocell is a resistor. It changes resistance according to the amount of light incident on it. Furthermore, a photocell operates using semiconductor photoconductivity. This is when the energy of photons hits the semiconductor and frees electrons to flow which results in a decrease in the resistance.

Why Do Photocells Face North?

Photocells usually face north because it allows them to detect light without as much direct sunlight on the sensor. Bear in mind that exposing a photosensor to too much direct sunlight can result in burnout components and which can lead to premature failure. For more information, you can check out this article titled, why do photocells face north?

Can You Add Photocell to an Outdoor Light?

You can add a photocell to the outdoor light. It is a simple process that is easy to do. A photocell consists of two black wires that should be tapped into the black wire that runs to the light fixture from your house. If you are adding a photocell to your outdoor lighting fixture, make sure to do it properly so that you will get the best lighting experience and prevent problems as well. You can also read this article that we have shared titled, how does a dusk to dawn photocell work? We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.


Thank you for reading this article that discusses if one photocell can control multiple lights. We have found out that one photocell ac control multiple lights. Moreover, we have shared the steps on how to add a photocell to multiple lighting fixtures. It is a simple DIY project that you can do. On the other hand, you can always hire the services of a professional electrician if you are not confident to work on light wirings. Thank you for reading!

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