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Ask Mr. Tight Watt: Photocells and CFLs  Smart Choices Archive

Ask Mr. Tight Watt: Photocells and CFLs

Ask Mr. Tight-Watt

Question: I found some $10-$15 photocells that claim to be CFL compatible.  Do you have any knowledge of how effective these might be and what kind of CFL life can be obtained?—Jack, a Smart Choices reader

Mr. Tight Watt called on Rob Kirkpatrick, Service Concepts, to provide a response. Service Concepts produces our online cooperative catalog of products.
Rob's Answer: We recently tested photocells (light controls) and found six items to feature in our catalog.
First, what are photocells? Photocells provide automatic shut-off/turn on components for lights, such as dusk-to-dawn lighting (turn on at night, shut off when it gets light in the morning), and motion detector capabilities. They are sometimes called “electric eyes.”
Until recently, they have not been compatible with CFLs because of the way they were designed. Using them could shorten the life of the CFL, because they allow a trickle of electricity to pass through to power the sensor, and that would make the CFL try (unsuccessfully) to come on, and then wear out.
Now, two companies have designed photocells that work fine with CFLs, because “off” means really off. We have tested both, and certain products by a company named Westek have earned our praise. We are including models in the online catalog that perform these functions:
  • Dusk to Dawn Light Control for CFLs
  • Indoor Motion Activated Light Control
  • Outdoor Motion Activated Light Control
  • AutoOff™ Light Control
  • HomeFinder™ Flashing Light Control
Using these devices with energy-saving CFLs will maximize your energy dollar – efficient lighting when you need it.
 To purchase CFLs with photocells, check out our catalog.  
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