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CFL Flood Lights for Outdoor Photocells

Older photocells in outdoor lights often don’t work with compact fluorescent lights, but new technology is available that addresses the problem. Get compatible photocells for your security lights, so you can save energy on outdoor lighting.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Using CFL bulbs outdoors

Homeowners have discovered that CFLs controlled by photocells don’t always work right. The problem is with the photocell, not the bulb. The circuitry in older photocells often isn’t compatible with the ballasts in CFLs. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw out the old fixture— just retrofit it. We found a manufacturer that guarantees its photocells will work with all CFLs on the market. Precision Multicontrols sells several styles of photocells and you can buy them at its Web site, precisionmulticontrols.com. Buy a weatherproof electrical box or a three-hole floodlight mounting plate and attach a stem-mounted photocell in one of the openings. Then connect the new photocell in place of the old one. If you have a lamppost, you can convert it with the “button”-style photocell shown.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Cordless drill
    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Non-contact voltage tester
    • Wire stripper/cutter

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • CFL-compatible photocell
    • Wire nuts
    • Outdoor-rated CFL bulbs

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CFL Flood Lights for Outdoor Photocells

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