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Decent Motion Sensing Lights?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the proper-care-and-feeding-of dept.

82

Above asks: "At my previous house I purchased a number of motion sensor lights to replace the standard flood lights. I simply went to the nearest Home Depot and bought a mid range model, and they worked great. Since then I've moved, and in the new house I did the same, and got some Heath-Zenith units from Home Depot. They were junk (came on all the time for no reason). I adjusted two different units to no end, they simply didn't work. Since that was basically all Home Depot carried, I went to Lowes, and got a Regent Lighting unit. It was better, but not by much. I want my back yard to be relatively sensitive, triggered by the dogs when we let them out, but the front yard to be insensitive, triggered only by a car or the close approach of a person. Where can I get a good quality, motion sensor flood light? What are the secrets to aiming and adjusting them so they work right?"

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82 comments

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Simple. (0)

gklinger (571901) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604632)

I'll make this brief. A company called X10 [x10.com] (specifically here [x10.com] ) has everything you need. Good quality stuff at reasonably affordable prices. Browse the site, you'll like what you find.

Why can't people google before asking slashdot? (1)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604654)

I mean srsly [x10pro.com]

Re:Why can't people google before asking slashdot? (1)

Helix150 (177049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604730)

another vote for the above linked product. It's a great device and can be used with home automation software for even more useful functionality.

Re:Why can't people google before asking slashdot? (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 7 years ago | (#16610022)

Maybe because they like being flamed for asking a serious question of a bunch of (generally speaking) really bright people with a technical bent? It seems to me like automatic light controls sort of fall into an area of interest to geeks.

FWIW, I agree with the assessments of X10's marketing techniques, but the controller I bought from them 10-15 years ago is still holding up fine. If I'd known they made lights like the ones you linked to, I probably would have installed them on my new porch instead of what I did install. Of course, if they didn't load up my browser with cookies and popup ads when I visit their web site, maybe I'd have been more inclined to check it before going to Lowe's.

Re:Simple. (2, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604900)

It looks like they have useful stuff, but their web site is really annoying.

X10 (as a company) Sucks (5, Insightful)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604932)

Remember who paid for all those annoying pop-up and pop-under ads when they first came out? X10 are the primary reason all browsers come with popup blockers these days. Their internet marketing tactics stink.

I won't support them. And I urge others to do the same.

Re:X10 (as a company) Sucks (4, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605822)

Since popup blockers are now universal they've started paying people to post on Slashdot. Apparently.

Re:X10 (as a company) Sucks (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16611502)

Jesus Christ, how do I get a job like that? sit on my ass and talk about how great X10 is on the internet? the best part is that if you actually know the products and provide people with useful information then you're not just shilling, but you're actually providing a service - and the whole point of it is to produce targeted advertising, which is the best kind. I definitely would prefer to buy things from their competitors due to their asinine advertising and just the simple fact their their website layout is poop.

second that. boycotting X10 (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605990)

eom

X10 != X10 Wireless Technology, the popup company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16608380)

The company that is responsiable for those pop-ups is out of busniess.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_Wireless_Technolo gy [wikipedia.org]

X10 is junk.. but worth buying anyway (2, Informative)

renehollan (138013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605062)

I researched the X10 stuff and bought three floodcams, extra receivers, a RF/powerline transciever, and USB RF receiver and control interfaces for a computer for about US$430.

For the money spent, it was a good deal: the cameras, though poor quality work, and the flood lights come on when sensing motion, sending X10 events and responding to X10 commands to turn on the cameras and floodlight.

However:

1) The video range is poor. Figure 20 feet max through typical household construction, and interference can be significant.

2) The motion sensors are not particularly responsive. The floodcams have the option to gate the lights based on the motion sensors and it being dark (i.e. at night), but those motion sensors are fairly insensitive, and worse, it appears that the turn off delay does not work if the light sensor detects light after the motion sensor turns the light on -- if the light reflects of a shiny object -- we have trouble with one car in our driveway if it is parked too close.

Still, being able to control the floodlights with a handheld remote or a computer is, by itself, a nice plus. The (admitedly poor quality) cams are a bit of a perk, but I wouldn't rely on them for serious surveillance (a good stationary camera will run $250 to $500 alone -- closer to $1000 when you start talking about good PTZ units).

Of course, compare this to close to $200 for a decent motion / time of day sensing light alone which I used to have.

Granted the X10 ads are annoying and I've let them know, several times, that their practices reflect badly on their products which are otherwise fair value for the money. I suppose that they remain effective, though.

Re:Simple. (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605578)

If you go X10 I can swear by this model [amazon.com] , we live out in the country and can adjust it pretty reliably not to go off when every single critter in the woods comes by at night, yet it still works when people and deer come over.

Re:Simple. (2, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605610)

I had a bunch of X10 stuff for awhile, but the quality control was really bad. Appliance modules would turn off and on randomly, the motion sensor just plain stopped working after a few months, and pretty much everything gave me trouble after awhile except for the big white remotes in the freebie box they (used to?) give out. Maybe they've gotten a handle on their quality control since then, but I still don't trust them.

Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16604638)

Honestly, they are just lights. If you are letting the dogs out, just flip the switch. Nuff said.

Those lights cost like 15 bucks (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604740)

What do you expect?

Since when did Slashdot become 'This Old House'? (0, Offtopic)

hemp (36945) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604758)

Re:Since when did Slashdot become 'This Old House' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16607436)

Yes. Because a fucking carpenter would be a genius when it comes to lighting.

Free clue: If it isn't wood or a fancy power tool, Norm doesn't know.

All else the same? (1)

jctull (704600) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604802)

I have the same, cheap, [brand of] Heath-Zenith lights and they work fine. I suspect that the environment that your lights are set within are the problem. If you have trees with branches in sight of the passive system, the wind will blow and set off the lights. That may be the only difference between houses: environmental variation. I have noticed that they are more sensitive in colder months than warmer months. This may be the temperature interacting with the sensors, or it could be other changes to the environment. I have not tried to systematically tease these things apart.

Re:All else the same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16608460)

So, wait, you're saying that it's not that the cheap-ass home depot lights that suck because they're temperamental at best, but rather the blame falls on the guy because his house/yard are defective!? What? Do you work for Home Depot or something? Next you'll be telling me it was my fault that I got mugged because I was in a bad environment or that it's my grad-dad's fault he got black-lung because of the environment he worked in. Sheesh -- it's pretty clear to me that if a product can work reasonably well in a variety of standard install locations, it's a good bet that the product itself sucks!

Floodlights aren't enough. (2, Funny)

Raynor (925006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604844)

Pitfalls and caged tigers (claymores if you can get a few. REALLY easy to use. "FRONT: This side towards enemy")

But seriously, flood lights aren't going protect your home very well, especially DYI projects. If it's safety you have in mind, it is worthwhile to call the professionals.

Re:Floodlights aren't enough. (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605508)

If it's safety you have in mind, it is worthwhile to call the professionals.
Who you gonna call?

GHOST BUSTERS!

Flood lights are VERY annoying to thieves. (2, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606106)

"... flood lights aren't going protect your home very well..."

Motion sensing flood lights are VERY annoying to someone trying to sneak around. Annoying enough that they may consider trying another house that doesn't have motion sensing lights.

Re:DYI? (1)

Krokus (88121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16611196)

"Do Yourself In"?

Ask Slashdot (4, Funny)

solid_liq (720160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604872)

Hey Slashdot readers, what's the best brand of oil to use in my car?

Dear Slashdot, I keep buying ballpoint pens that don't write well. I have to keep scribbling on scratch paper to make them work. What kind of pen should I get so I don't have this problem?

Dear Slashdot, my kid wants a dog. I don't want a dog that barks alot. What do you recommend?

Yo Slashdot, I got a beef wit dis guy in my 'hood. What kinda piece do you recommend I use on his a$$? Peace.

Dear Slashdot, I'm so fat I keep breaking every chair I sit on. Anyone know of an industrial strength chair I can get that won't get crushed by my lazy butt?

Hey all you smart Slashdot readers, I'm going to be on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Anyone want to be one of my lifelines? You need to be really smart and stuff. Lemme know if you are.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

slack-fu (940017) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604908)

if only i had mod points

Ask Slashdot: I'm hungry (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16604970)

Dear Slashdot,

Once again I awoke this morning hungry. I installed food into my mouth yesterday when I woke up hungry too. In fact, I installed food three times yesterday. And they day before that. And the day before that. This seems like such a cheap hack to a simple problem. Is there any way I can automate a solution to this problem? I have a few requirements though. Of course it must be open source and patent free. Also, I would prefer a linux based solution. Any suggestions would be great!

Re:Ask Slashdot: I'm hungry (1)

Nerd4News (661915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16609658)

Once again I awoke this morning hungry. I installed food into my mouth yesterday when I woke up hungry too. In fact, I installed food three times yesterday. And they day before that. And the day before that. This seems like such a cheap hack to a simple problem. Is there any way I can automate a solution to this problem? I have a few requirements though. Of course it must be open source and patent free. Also, I would prefer a linux based solution. Any suggestions would be great!

http://www.adminschoice.com/docs/crontab.htm [adminschoice.com]

Re:Ask Slashdot (4, Funny)

notanatheist (581086) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605282)

Mobil. Pilot. A cat. Golf club, 3 wood. Lazyboy.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

szembek (948327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16607996)

Not offtopic. He is answering the guys joke questions in the above post...

Pen recommendation (2, Informative)

deek (22697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605338)


Dear Slashdot, I keep buying ballpoint pens that don't write well. I have to keep scribbling on scratch paper to make them work. What kind of pen should I get so I don't have this problem?


I recommend trying out the space pen [spacepen.com] . Containing a pressurised ink cartridge, it'll write reliably at any angle, on just about any surface. These pens were used by NASA in space, for their ability to work in zero gravity. Plus, you'll get geek cred for owning one.

Re:Pen recommendation (1)

commanderfoxtrot (115784) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606392)

A pencil would be far easier.

Re:Pen recommendation (1)

deek (22697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636710)


A pencil would be far easier.


  Yeah, but try sharpening a pencil in space.

Re:Pen recommendation (1)

commanderfoxtrot (115784) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666107)

Why is sharpening a pen in space hard? There's no gravity requirement; the only issue would be floating bits of wood. There are lots of pencil sharpeners in an enclosed space which would stop most of the shards/dust getting out.

Re:Pen recommendation (1)

deek (22697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667079)


Why is sharpening a pen in space hard? There's no gravity requirement; the only issue would be floating bits of wood. There are lots of pencil sharpeners in an enclosed space which would stop most of the shards/dust getting out.


  Geez, it was a reply made in jest, trying to evoke images of pencil shavings floating around in a zero gravity chamber.

  But, since you want to take it seriously, let's examine why both NASA _and_ the Russian space agency have never used pencils in space. Yep, the Russians initially chose to use a wax stick and plastic slates, instead of a pencil. Why? Because graphite pencils use inherently involves bits of the pencil falling off. Of course this happens with sharpening, but also with writing. Not a problem with some gravity around, but in zero gravity, it's a major problem.

  There is a reason why both space agencies chose to use the space pen from Fisher.

Re:Ask Slashdot (2, Funny)

Builder (103701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605932)

Castrol (can of the best)

Pencil

Cat .45 of shotgun if you can't aim for shit

Diet

No

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605940)

Cat

.45 OR shotgun

That's what I meant, yes...

Not interested in the discussion? Don't comment. (4, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606116)

Please don't comment on stories in which you have no interest.

Re:Not interested in the discussion? Don't comment (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606482)

The point is /. is a poor place to ask these kinds of questions. They'd do much better asking a home improvement forum, rather than a bunch of computer nerds.

Re:Not interested in the discussion? Don't comment (1)

holstein (142604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16607960)

Well, myself I think that the answers were quite interesting. I'm thinking about the thread on dissassembling the lights, and the debate about how they work. This is true nerd thinking...

Of course, the original question looked more like "what brand should I buy", which is _not_ nerdy.

How to DIY is the way to go.. :)

Re:Not interested in the discussion? Don't comment (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 7 years ago | (#16611204)

They'd do much better asking a home improvement forum, rather than a bunch of computer nerds.

Slashdot seems like a decent place to ask questions about home automation-related projects. The submitter is asking about something fairly basic, but it's still part of a wired-up home.

Re:Not interested in the post? Don't comment (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606720)

Please don't comment on posts in which you have no interest.

You see what I did there? He DOES have an interest in it. He has an interest in stopping future stories like it that also have absolutely nothing to do with Slashdot. Just the same as you had an interest in stopping him from posting about them.

Re:Not interested in the discussion? Don't comment (1)

szembek (948327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16608036)

Your comment is inherently redundant.

Re:Not interested in the discussion? Don't comment (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16608604)

You're new here, aren't you?

Re:Ask Slashdot (0, Offtopic)

subreality (157447) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606190)

Oil: We've found mineral oil works very well for cooling processors. Give it a try.

Pens: Not only do they write poorly, but you don't have access to the blueprints to improve them. You're forever stuck in Bic's pen goes scratchy - buy a new pen upgrade cycle. Try OpenOffice on Ubuntu.

Dog: Aibo.

Piece: I've played a lot of Quake2. In my time in lmctf, I've experimented a lot, and the HyperBlaster [quake2.com] is *the* all-around offense weapon to have. However, I haven't found any in the local gun shops, so I'd recommend looking into an AK-74, which has served me well in BF2.

Alternatively: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teledildonics [wikipedia.org]

Chair: When your ass has to sit in front of a computer for 16 hours a day: The Aeron. Accept no substitute.

Lifeline: Hook up with Forum2000. I've found the Forum to be insightful on any subject.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#16607518)

http://www.staples.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/C ategoryDisplay?prodCatType=2&storeId=10001&categor yId=11161&catalogId=10051&langId=-1 [staples.com]

I think you are wrong btw, (reading your post to be a rhetoric argument against the topic) this subject already has sufficiently nerdish answers... it was worth home page time.

Re:Ask Slashdot (2, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16607908)

Hey Slashdot readers, what's the best brand of oil to use in my car?

Brand? doesn't really matter. Synthetic will last longer than natural, and use the lowest weight oil your manufacturer recommends. XXwNN means roughly "starting temperature viscosity equivalent to XX weight oil, running temp viscosity equivalent to NN weight oil." Higher numbers are more viscous, but less likely to leak. Lower numbers will give you slightly better fuel economy.

Dear Slashdot, I keep buying ballpoint pens that don't write well. I have to keep scribbling on scratch paper to make them work. What kind of pen should I get so I don't have this problem?
Fisher Space pen. It's pressurized so you can write upside-down if you have some crazy fetish.

Dear Slashdot, my kid wants a dog. I don't want a dog that barks alot. What do you recommend?
stuffed. Or a fish tank. If you can't handle its barking, you'll never cope with housetraining it.

Yo Slashdot, I got a beef wit dis guy in my 'hood. What kinda piece do you recommend I use on his a$$? Peace.
A lawyer would be far more effective, and get fewer complaints from the neighbors. A sackfull of lawyers will not leave any bruises or other marks to cause you trouble with teh authorities, and they're more plentiful than oranges.

Dear Slashdot, I'm so fat I keep breaking every chair I sit on. Anyone know of an industrial strength chair I can get that won't get crushed by my lazy butt?
You've probably got a medical condition known as "too fat to walk" anyway. so don't even bother with chairs. Just head straight to http://www.thescooterstore.com/ [thescooterstore.com] No worries on price, your friends will pay for it aparantly.

Hey all you smart Slashdot readers, I'm going to be on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Anyone want to be one of my lifelines? You need to be really smart and stuff. Lemme know if you are.
How much of your winnings are you willing to share? What minimum fee do you guarantee when you lose?

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

szembek (948327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16608074)

Only run synthetic oil if your manufacturer recommends it in your owners manual.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16611682)

I don't know who told you this but you're on crack. Synthetic protects any engine more than natural oil, and most synthetics were actually designed to replace normal oil in existing cars. The synthetics designed specifically for modern vehicles (like the 0W15 oil - yes that's a 0) are all products that were released later.

Now, what you should never do is try to break a car in on synthetic if it is not designed for it. The synthetic prevents it from breaking in properly. However, it seems like most of the '06 and later models are now specifying synthetic from the factory.

The only time you should not run synthetic is when you've got an oil leak. Then you should fix your leak... and put in synthetic. It helps prevent future wear, so even in older engines it can be useful.

I'm getting ready to put synthetic everywhere in my car, including the engine, trans, and both differentials. I'm sticking with natural brake fluid though, because you have to do a full flush to run silicone fluid, as it causes glycol fluid to pill and harden, potentially clogging your brake lines.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

deacon (40533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16612658)

You have bought into the marketing bullshit hook line and sinker. Fact is, synthetic oils can be miscible with water (creating slude in an engine driven for short distances which never fully warms up), can make the gaskets and seals leak on an older engine, and can make rubber hoses (PVC, evap) harden like glass and develop cracks.

If your goal is to protect your engine, then put in any motor oil that has the ASPI seal and change it whenever it gets the color of strong tea or darker. Your differentials will last forever unless you got a volvo. Your transmission will last forever unless you got a volvo AWD or a Tarus. Change the transmission fluid (and filter if an automatic) at the manufacturers recomended interval or sooner, and there will never be any problems.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16613450)

Fact is, synthetic oils can be miscible with water

Petroleum-based oils also get water in them. You've never seen milky oil? No car should ever be driven without being allowed to come to full operating temperature for just this reason; since the crankcase is not a closed system, water enters the system every time you drive. Consequently, you need to bring the engine up to temperature and cook off that water every time you drive to minimize corrosion.

There are reasons to use synthetic in your [automatic] transmission other than reducing wear, namely that it is more stable with temperature changes, thus the characteristics change less when the system is running hot. In a manual transmission, many people report that using a synthetic oil improves synchromesh operation; I've heard this repeatedly, for example, regarding red line synthetic gear oil in the Nissan 240SX (any year, any model, it's all the same trans except in the Japanese-only S15 Silvia with the six speed.)

And finally, on an older engine, your seals are probably leaking anyway, and should be replaced before you put in some $5/quart synthetic unless you really like pissing away oil. Your rings should probably be done, too, because as they go you both burn more oil and have more blow-by contamination.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 7 years ago | (#16638477)

The only time you should not run synthetic is when you've got an oil leak.

Acutally, there's another case.
If you've got a Mazda rotary engine.

In that case, you've actually got an oil injector.

(Although some guys do remove it and premix two-cycle oil in their gas tanks.)

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16646617)

Thanks, a detail I did not know. I've never been much of a rotary fan because the cars they come in are too small for me to drive at 6'7".

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

FragHARD (640825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16614526)

>>Synthetic will last longer than natural<<
Of course you know that if your vehicle did not come with synthetic and you switch oil your seals(pan,main,valve covers,etc...) will start to leak guaranteed and if they already leak they will leak even more! So even if it LASTS longer you will have to add more sooner just from leaks :0) I would recomend a synthetic blend(castrol makes a good one, dosen't leak as much) if you really want to go with synthetic.

Re:Ask Slashdot (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16618306)

use the lowest weight oil your manufacturer recommends.

This, of course, is nonsense. There's a reason that manufacturers often give a range and just because your particular situation makes one side of the range worthwhile doesn't mean that'll translate to someone else's situation.

The manufacturer of my motorbike (Suzuki) recommends 10W40. That's a recommendation for a bike that is driven all over the US: from Maine to Montana to Arizona to Florida. A recommendation for regions where temperatures drop below freezing in winter and can hit ninety in summer. Unfortunately I live in southern California, where the last recorded incident of freezing temperatures was 1949 and we don't turn on the A/C until it hits 100. It doesn't make sense for me to use something watery like 10W40 -- I use 20W50 and my twenty-eight year old bike seems to agree with me just fine.

Really: when there's a range of products somewhere, then there's usually a reason for the existence of that range and any advice based on anything less than research of the exact situation of the asker is going to be worth as much as a coin-flip.

Sensor orientation (5, Informative)

itwerx (165526) | more than 7 years ago | (#16604940)

Most of the sensors have a plastic "light guide" in front of them that breaks the sensed area into zones. It is the changing difference between the zones that triggers the sensor. Try taking one of them apart and you'll see either variations in the lens plastic, or even a set of physical baffles between the outer filter and the sensor itself.
      (You can actually walk by most IR sensors without setting them off if you move VERY slowly, which is why better quality alarm systems use radar or specific thermal level monitoring rather than just a change).
      Which brings us to aiming. Most of the time the zones are arranged to be more sensitive to side-to-side motion than up/down. So if you have one oriented 90deg out of "true" then it'll be rather insensitive except in a narrow band. (This is a good way to limit the area of coverage of a sensor without having to break out the masking tape).
      Speaking of which, the height and angle of the sensor makes a big difference for the same reason.
      So I would recommend taking one apart, figuring out the zone layout and adjusting accordingly. (Heck, you can even just set one on a table and see what area it "sees" and how sensitive it is to motion in that area, then turn it 90deg and try again).

Re:Sensor orientation (1)

notanatheist (581086) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605312)

That's a proper geek response. Well said. Thanks for the information as I have the same problem. Seems no matter how much I adjust sensitivity or where I aim the sensor some nights it just wants to come on repeatedly.

Some corrections (5, Informative)

Maddog Batty (112434) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606860)

Most of the sensors have a plastic "light guide" in front of them that breaks the sensed area into zones.

Its not a light guide its a plastic fresnel lens with multiple elements which focuses light (actually heat) from various "zones" onto the sensor.

It is the changing difference between the zones that triggers the sensor.

Nope. The sensor is made from two seperate pyroelectric elements which are mounted side by side. It is differences between these two elements which triggers the device. This could be from the same zone or different zones. Sun light and other ambient light (heat) changes will affect both elements equally (you hope) so that they don't trigger the device.

Try taking one of them apart and you'll see either variations in the lens plastic, or even a set of physical baffles between the outer filter and the sensor itself.
            (You can actually walk by most IR sensors without setting them off if you move VERY slowly, which is why better quality alarm systems use radar or specific thermal level monitoring rather than just a change).
            Which brings us to aiming. Most of the time the zones are arranged to be more sensitive to side-to-side motion than up/down.


The are all like this due to them being two element devices.

So if you have one oriented 90deg out of "true" then it'll be rather insensitive except in a narrow band. (This is a good way to limit the area of coverage of a sensor without having to break out the masking tape).

True.

Speaking of which, the height and angle of the sensor makes a big difference for the same reason.
            So I would recommend taking one apart, figuring out the zone layout and adjusting accordingly. (Heck, you can even just set one on a table and see what area it "sees" and how sensitive it is to motion in that area, then turn it 90deg and try again).


The biggest difference between the systems you can buy is the shape of the fresnel lens. You can have just one main zone or lots of sub zones or a combination of both. Most good systems will give you a diagram of the size and position of the zones which you can use to choose and position them.

Re:Some corrections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16607760)

mod parent up, THIS is a proper geek response.

Re:Some corrections (1)

itwerx (165526) | more than 7 years ago | (#16609812)

its a plastic fresnel lens
That is one type, there are also "bug-eye" lenses and no lens at all, just a plastic honey-comb between the filter and the sensor.

It is differences between these two elements which triggers...
Right, and the difference between those elements is generated by the IR coming from the zones which is what actually matters for purposes of aiming, hence my use of the word "zones" instead of confusing the issue for the poor sod who's trying to solve his problem. See more on this below, (the sensors don't matter).

The are all like this due to them being two element devices
There are also quad element, supposedly "more accurate". FYI - the direction of sensitivity is determined by the shape of the lens not the location/qty of the sensors. In the fresnel type you can even see this in the groove pattern. (If the sensor layout were the only factor then a 2-sensor unit wouldn't work at all when rotated 90deg! :)

Most good systems will give you a diagram
Er, yes, but we've already determined it is not a good system and the entire point of the question was to solicit assistance. One can, (perhaps erroneously it's true), assume that the poster would have looked at something like that already if it were available.

Decent Motion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16605108)

How do you tell Decent Motion from Indecent Motion?

Yeah yeah, "I'll know it when I see it".

Re:Decent Motion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16607500)

You give a doll to a little girl and ask her "now where did the bad detector motion you?"

Check for RFI (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605136)

I've seen motion detector lights come on when a radio transmitter fired up nearby.

Also, poke around: some have sensitivity adjustments.

Go really hardcore and wire them into your home security system. Passive infrared detectors for alarms systems are high quality and a reasonably sophisticated panel can be programmed to turn lights on without sounding an alarm.

Re:Check for RFI (1)

notanatheist (581086) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605326)

Hmm.. in addition to the above post I'll have to find a way to test this theory as my AP is in my garage about 20 feet from the problem light. So much for hiding the SSID (bad joke).

There are other options... (3, Interesting)

dvogt (899625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605232)

First off, I have to say I agree with the original poster... I too tried to use the Zenith stuff from Home Depot when replacing lights for a friend and the stuff simply doesn't work. Pretty disappointing since there isn't much to this stuff. When I started looking into doing lights for my home I also looked at the X10 stuff but finally decided to build my own infrastructure. Not that there is anything wrong with the X10 stuff... it's affordable, easy to use, and has lots of software support. However, I'm building some custom home automation stuff anyways (such as asterisk integration and a cross platform graphical data-flow language for microcontrollers so you can embed control logic onto a cheap controller board instead of using a dedicated pc without needing to know how to write code) so I figured I'd customize the motion stuff as well. I found some GE motion sensors for about $10 that work great (and actually come with docs covering sensetivity, range, effective angles, etc... which you don't normally get in a packaged unit). I modified them a bit to add tamper detection but otherwise they work great out of the box. These feed back into a controller board which can also control the flood lights (which are just standard floods controlled by relays). And yes, I'm sure all this can be done with X10, I just prefer to build my own stuff (http://www.kondra.com/circuit/circuit.html [kondra.com] ).

Re:There are other options... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16605586)

It sounds like you are using light-poluting abominations. Shame on you for using any outdoor lighting fixture that is not a "full cut-off" fixture. Full cut-off fixtures illuminate what you want illuminated, without causing glare (which makes it harder for you to see) and without degrading the night sky with upward-shining light. When you don't send the light skyward, you are also able to lower your energy usage. See the Internaional Dark Sky Association for more information

Re:There are other options... (1)

dvogt (899625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605946)

hmm... except that they're hooded and under the eaves of the roof (I'm familiar with the Dark Sky Association... my father in law is an astronomer). Also by separating the sensors from the lights I can use achieve better sensor coverage using fewer lights. Good points however.

Re:There are other options... (1)

TLI_ (598782) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606452)

Do you have any more information about those GE motion sensors?

Reverse 'em (1)

l3prador (700532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16605532)

I've always been a big fan of the reverse-motion sensor light... I think it's much more useful to have them turn off when they see motion than turn on.

Re:Reverse 'em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16606832)

If the light only comes on when nobody's there, does it make things bright?

Costco/Price Club (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606086)

Try the motion sensing lights from Costco/Price Club.

Power line filter (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16606130)

Also: Use a power line filter to prevent the lights from being triggered by power line spikes.

--
Bush lied. Thousands died. Impeach.

what's the use of mod points (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16606416)

if I can't mod OP as off-topic??
*grumble*

Maybe you could live without them (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16607392)

I ended up giving up on backyard astronomy because I kept trigger neigbors' security lights. Nothing like spending half an hour getting dark adapted and being hit in the face with a pair of 150 watt spot lights.

One of my neighbors has a burglar alarm which he only sets when he goes on vacation. It has internal motion sensors that are triggered if a passing wind rattles one of his windows. This means we are treated to a 120db external siren on almost a daily basis.

Blackouts are an inconvenience, but we used to make them fun by lighting a fire in the fireplace, cooking over a camp stove, and lighthing candles and lanterns and maybe reading stories to the kids. But a couple of years a go a vogue went around the neighborhood for buying gasoline powered emergency generators. Since noise from these things apparently isn't regulated, lamplight reading is out because the neighborhood sounds like a motor speedway.

I'm all for collecting geeky stuff, but it's one thing to have an attic electronics lab, it's another to deny a neighbor the right to be in his back yard in the dark. There's a growing and unhealthy obsession with extending and expanding our personal space, whether it's building houses as close to the property line as allowed, shining lights into neighbors' yards and windows, or driving an absurdly large SUV.

The Stoic philosophers reasoned this way about happiness: if happiness is having all your wnats satisfied, the surest way to happiness is to self-regulate your wants. Epictetus once told the story of placing an iron lamp on the outside of his house; he heard an odd noise outside his door he went out to find that a thief had stolen the lamp. "Tommorow, my friend," said Epictetus, "you will find a clay lamp; a man can only lose what he has."

MOD PARENT UP (2, Insightful)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 7 years ago | (#16608106)

And if you haven't read Epictetus' Manual, you should. It's a short, intriguing read. Try Lebell's plain English version. (Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher.) http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-0062511114-0 [powells.com]

Re:Maybe you could live without them (2, Funny)

nathan s (719490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16611192)

I ended up giving up on backyard astronomy because I kept trigger neigbors' security lights. Nothing like spending half an hour getting dark adapted and being hit in the face with a pair of 150 watt spot lights.

Maybe it was the "pointing your telescope at their windows" part that had them so concerned.;-)

Re:Maybe you could live without them (2, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16611842)

Crossman used to make very nice coutermeasures for such problems.

Re:Maybe you could live without them (1)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16640425)

Depending on the shape and sensitivity of the "security" light's dusk/dawn sensor, a well-aimed laser pointer can be your friend. Not that I would know about such things, but I've been told ;-) P.S. If your town has a light pollution/light trespass ordinance, make sure the laser direction and wattage are such that you aren't breaking these laws. A typical pen laser outputs less than 1/50,000th the wattage of a typical insecurity light.

Re:Maybe you could live without them (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16646517)

I ended up giving up on backyard astronomy because I kept trigger neigbors' security lights.

Think you've got the wrong definition of 'backyard astronomy'; you're supposed to be in your own backyard, with a different sort of telescope.

Light pollution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16608022)

I'll say this: properly adjusted motion-sensor lights should be mandatory. Light pollution sucks, and is wasteful.

motion light (3, Insightful)

strichards (979514) | more than 7 years ago | (#16610438)

I had the same issues Home Depot & Lowes both stock crap. Go to an electrical supply house and get RAB lights. They simply work. http://www.rabweb.com/product_line_detail.php?prod line=STL360 [rabweb.com] I'm extremely please with the results. I'm not associated with RAB, etc. Steve

Passive InfraRed (PIR) Motion Detectors (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16610716)

PIRs use pyroelectric sensors that are made from tri-glycine sulphate or lithium tantalite and change polarization with temperature change. They really measure the change in heat hitting the sensor. If things change slowly enough they will miss any change. Conversely, if there is a sudden change in heat you can get a false positive. An example of something that can cause a false positive is a warm background with cool trees waving in the breeze.

http://www.sensorsmag.com/ [sensorsmag.com] is often a good starting point for sources of this type of technology.

Some manufactures of modules are http://www.napion.com/ [napion.com] and http://irtec.com/ [irtec.com] . MuRata makes the IRA-E700, Global makes the RE200B and good ol' Hotek makes a controller for the sensors, HT761X.

Here is the NEMA spec for motion sensing http://www.nema.org/stds/wd7.cfm [nema.org]

DIY IR-switched lighting (1)

info128 (1019212) | more than 7 years ago | (#16615356)

I know this is a little bit off subject, but in the interest of DIY you could build your own. I've been using Sharp's OEM IR sensors to good effect in my indoor lighting projects. They're basically a frequency modulated IR beam emitted from the sensor, coupled with an IR sensor configured to detect only the frequency of the emitter. The devices output a voltage which is proportional to the distance detected. If you know how to program a microcontroller, you could program your own object detection algorithm which would likely trump most of the commercial devices out there.

Anyway, my two cents. I'm using the shorter range versions of the sensor for my lighting design (http://www.designeb.com/ [designeb.com] ).

More information on the Sharp distance sensors can be found here:

http://www.acroname.com/robotics/info/articles/sha rp/sharp.html [acroname.com]
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