How Does a Dusk to Dawn Photocell Work?

What is dusk to dawn outdoor photocell and how do they work? Outdoor lighting does not only illuminate your garden but also makes it safer. If you do not want to be inconvenienced by manually turning on and off the lights, your best option is to use dusk to dawn photocell lighting. Let us find out more about this below.

How does a dusk to dawn photocell work? While there are different types of photocells available on the market, they work just the same. In order to control electric current, photocells make use of semiconductors. The Lighting fixture will turn off when the semiconductor is exposed to a specific light level and makes the current flow. There are photocell sensors that can be adjusted so you can choose the level of light that will activate the semiconductor.

Dusk to dawn lighting is in demand for both commercial and residential properties. How do dusk to dawn photocells operate? What is the main function of the photocell? Do LED lights require a specific photocell? How do you determine if your photocell is bad? These are some of the questions that we will discuss in this article.

What is Dusk to Dawn Photocells?

Photocells are also called dusk to dawn sensors, which are modules that are sensitive to light. The light determines the on and off lighting status based on the ambient light levels. Dusk to dawn photocells are light detectors that turn on automatically at dusk and turn off at dawn. Dusk to dawn photocells is commonly used outdoors street lights, lamp post, and security lighting. One benefit that you can get from dusk to dawn photocells is that help reduces light pollution while saving energy.

How Does Dusk to Dawn Photocells Operate?

Dusk to dawn photocells operates by sensing the level of ambient light. They are maintenance-free, and energy-efficient lighting that also helps provide safety and security. A 120-277V line voltage is used to hardwire photocells. Dusk to dawn photocells are used to control electrical circuits and activate outdoor lighting fixtures. On the other hand, you can also find photocells that can be screwed into light bulb sockets.

✅ Video – What is a Photocell?

GalcoTV shared the video below on YouTube. It is a brief discussion of what a photocell is. In the video, how a photocell works is also discussed. Check out the video to learn more.

What is the Main Function of a Photocell?

The main function of a photocell is to provide light. Photocells are also sensors that detect light. They are affordable, small, use low power, and do not wear out. Because of these characteristics, photocells are often used in toys and gadgets. We have also shared this article that discusses if all photocells are the same. Read the article for more tips and information.

Benefits of Dusk to Dawn Photocells

Among the benefits of dusk to dawn, photocells are that they save energy and are long-lasting. They also provide adequate illumination and come in a wide variety of options. Moreover, they save energy which allows you to save on your electric bill. Let us learn more about the benefits of dusk to dawn photocells below.

Saves Energy

One benefit that you can get from using dusk to dawn photocell is that it saves energy. Using a photocell on a dusk to dawn light allows it to sense the different shifts in weather and lighting outdoors. It will automatically turn on when there is no adequate lighting and turn off when it is daylight. As a result, you can save energy and money as well.

Less Maintenance

Another benefit that you can get from using dusk to dawn photocells is that they require less maintenance. They automatically turn and off so there is no need to maintain them. Moreover, they are good to go after installation. Photocells are convenient to use because they feature sensors. This means that you do not have to go in and out of the house just to operate the light.

Provides Illumination

Using dusk to dawn photocell is a great way to provide illumination both indoor and outdoor. It is flexible to use and lets you illuminate many outdoor areas that need it the most. It is best to install for porches, driveways, entrances, and sidewalks. You can also install it indoors. It does not matter where you place dusk to dawn photocell because it can provide the right illumination and coverage by automatically turning on at night and off at daylight. You can also check out this article that discusses why photocells face north. Read the article to learn more about the topic.


Aside from illumination, dusk to dawn photocell also provides safety and security to the surroundings.  Walking outdoors at night can be scary and it can also cause accidents. For instance, you can trip from stones on the sidewalk. This can be avoided by installing dusk to dawn photocell. On the other hand, you need to consider the color temperature and lumen of the lighting fixture. Color temperature and lumens are different things. It is the lumen that affects the brightness of light while the color temperature refers to the quality of light.


Another benefit that you can get from using dusk to dawn photocell is that it comes in a wide array of options. You can choose from a wide array of types and sizes that works best for your property. Make sure that you consider all options that you have. Bear in mind that not all types of dusk to dawn photocell will suit your property. If you do not know which type to choose, you can always ask for help from the professionals.

Do LED Lights Need Special Photocell?

LED lights need a special photocell as compared to a traditional bulb. Take note that the standard photocell needs only a small current so that it can operate in the daytime. Moreover, LEDs need low voltage to operate and the wrong photocell can cause interference and flickering.

Choosing Photocell Sensors for Outdoor LED Lights

To choose a photocell sensor for an outdoor LED light, there are a few factors that you need to consider such as compatibility. Make sure that the sensor uses modern photocell technology that is specifically designed for LEDs. This can be determined by reading the product specification sheet of the sensor. You can find this listed in the rated loading section. Take note that all photocells have three wires regardless of what type it is. On the other hand, if the photocell has a timer, there can be an additional wire. If this is the case, make sure to check the voltage of the photocell so that it matches with the LED’s installation voltage.

How Does Dusk to Dawn Lights Work?

Dusk to dawn lights works using photocells. It controls when the light will turn on and off. The photocells operate using semiconductors. The semiconductors in the photocells respond to the light it receives. When there’s enough light, the current starts to flow from the semiconductors and into the lighting system and turns it off. If the dusk to dawn light senses that it is daylight, the semiconductors stop providing electricity which turns the system on. There are some lights wherein you can choose the light level that will activate the photocell. You must understand what the problem is in the dusk to dawn lights so that you can determine how to fix it properly.

How to Reset Dusk to Dawn Photocells?

To reset dusk to dawn photocells, there are a few steps that you need to do. The first thing that you need to do is to turn off the light with the use of a light switch for a few seconds. Then, turn it back on. This will automatically reset the dusk to dawn photocell.

How to Know if the Photocell is Bad?

You will know if the photocell is bad, cover it so that light will not hit it. If the photocell is functional, the reading should be 0. The next step is to uncover the photocell and flash light onto its surface. If the photocell is functional, it should read 1020. A photocell is damaged if it does not have the proper reading. One reason for this is because of shortened wires. You can also check out this article that we have shared titled, what causes a photocell to go bad? We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.

How Much Electricity Does Dusk to Dawn Lights Use?

Dust to dawn lights uses less electricity. It automatically turns on and off you can save a lot of energy. Nowadays, more and more people are using dusk to dawn lights for their many benefits. While they use less energy, they provide better lighting output.


You have reached the end of this article that discusses how a dusk to dawn photocell work. We have found out that it works by sensing the level of lighting in its surroundings. Using dusk to dawn photocell can save money and energy. It will make you feel safe and secure. Moreover, they have many benefits and can be used in different types of lighting fixtures. Thank you for reading!

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