Thursday, May 29, 2014

Let There Be Light, Motion Detector That Is

Slowly but surly we have been converting any incandescent lights to LED lights so that they do not have to be changed so often, to save energy, and save money over time.

One day we came across Motion Activated Security lights for sale at the PPL's RV Parts Super Store  that are 12 volts and since they had LED bulbs, decided to purchase a couple of them to replace the original porch lights on the RV.

You can also order them directly from StarLights Inc. who are the manufacture, but we saved over $10.00 ordering from PPL.  The name of the lights are the Smart Light 1000 and as advertised, they fit perfectly where our original porch lights were mounted.
Smart Light 1000 RV Motion Sensor Light
We really liked how they came with the LED bulbs.  They are much brighter, do not get hot, and last much longer than the old style of incandescent bulb.  We also like that they can either be used like regular porch lights or put into "motion sensing" mode and only come one when there is movement and it is dark.
Smart Light 1000 200 lumens LED bulb
The installation was pretty easy once we got the original porch lights off the RV with the hardest part being the cutting of the caulk which had the lights glued in place.  Below are the tools that were used.  We always use an impact driver for a screw gun, but a Phillips screwdriver is all that is really needed.  We get lazy hand turning the screws.  You may also need a pocket knife or some type of cutting utensil for the caulk.
Tools used to install the Smart Light 1000

First thing, after looking at the Installation Instructions, we turned off the porch lights at the switch in the RV.  The instructions said to unhook the batteries, but I did not feel like going to such extremes.  You can make that decision if you install the lights.
Turning off the power to the porch lights
Next thing was to read the instructions on how to install the lights.  We did not do that in the beginning and so had to take the first light down to switch the wires due to having the positive (+) and negative (-) backwards. 

We wired the first light with its black wire to the RV's black wire and then the light's white wire to the RV's white wire.  But the RV's white wire was the positive and the black wire was negative.
Installation and Operation Instructions
Come to find out if you wire the lights backwards, they still work, but only as a regular light that comes on when you turn on the switch and goes off when your turn off the switch.

If they are wired properly then the computer chip inside the light will toggle between motion sensing and normal operation each time the power is turned on.

So make sure you perform the Functionality check as described in the Installation Instructions so the light works properly.  

If you do wire the light properly then while in motion sensing mode a blue LED will blink.  If the light just turns on every time you turn on the power, then you have it wired wrong.  

The light also has a day/night sensor, so during the day, while in motion sensing mode, the light says off and only the blue LED flashes, but at night time the actual porch light will turn on when there is motion detected.  The LED can also warn you when your batteries voltage is low by flashing red.
Smart Light 1000 in motion sensing mode

As mentioned before we replace both the front and rear porch lights which were pretty easy to remove.
Rear porch light on RV
After removing the lens cover we unscrewed the four screws securing the light housing to the RV.
Original porch light with the lens cover removed exposing the four screws attaching it to the RV
After the screws were removed we had to cut the caulk away to get the light housing off.
Porch light with caulk cut so the light housing can be removed.

Next we cut the wires so we could remove the original light housing.  Make sure you hold onto the wires coming out of the RV so that they do not snap back into the chassis and disappear.  If that happened then you would have to hope there is a cabinet or some way to get to the wires inside the RV so you could push them back to the outside.
Cutting the wires to the original porch light housing.
Once the old light fixture was removed and the wires exposed we had to perform the Functionality test as mentioned previously.  Once we knew for sure which wire was positive and which one was negative, we were ready to wire up the new motion light.

We used the crimp type wire connectors for our installation just because that is what we had on hand.  You can use whatever type of connectors you like.
Connecting the new light to the wires out of the RV
After getting both wires connected we pushed them back onto the RV so that we could mount the new light fixture making sure that we did not screw through the wires.
New light installed using the original four screws
You may notice that we still have the old bulb in this fixture due to the LED bulb that came with it, being defective.  No big deal, we contacted StarLight Inc. and they are sending us a new one since the bulb has a three year warranty.

We then replaced the lens cover on the new light fixtures.  You will notice that there is a oval area on the lens where the LED indicator and light sensor are located.  There is an oval O ring that seals this area from the weather.   You need to ensure that you do not lose this O ring and that it is present when you attach the lens cover.  

O ring gasket that you do not want to lose

We apologize for the blurred picture, but it is hard to hold an impact driver while standing on the top of a 4' ladder and take a picture with an iPhone.  This was not a good example of the "use common sense" comment that is made at the end of this blog.
Attaching Lens Cover
Once the lens cover was put back on we caulked around the top and sides of the new porch lights to keep the weather out.  We just used plain old clear silicon caulk.

Caulking the newly installed motion detection porch light
Once they were caulked with a good bead of sealant we though we were done and stood back to admire our work.  Don't pay too much attention to our wonderful caulk job.  Remember we were standing on the top of a 4' ladder.  Also when we say we, we really mean I.
Newly installed Smart Light 1000
But, we soon discovered that they were out of sync on what mode they were in when the power was turned on.  

The front porch light would be in motion sensing mode while the back porch light was in manual mode so when you turned off the power and then turned it back on the modes would switch for each light.

To fix this we had to unplug one of the lights while powering up the other one so that it would toggle to the same mode as the unplugged light.  We really did not want to have to take one of the lights down so came up with the idea of getting to the wires inside the coach behind the cabinet that was on the inside of the front porch light.

Luckily the speakers lined up perfectly with the front porch light.  We gently removed the speaker cover to expose the speakers so that we could remove it.
Removing speaker panel
Now we removed the screws holding in the speaker and took it out of its cavity and let it hank gently so that we did not pull its wires loose.
Removing speaker
We then identified which wires ran to the outside porch light and marked the connector with an 'L' so that if in the future the lights get out of sync again, we know exactly which one to unplug.
Outside porch light wires exposed
We then unplugged the front porch light, turned on the power to the back porch light and then back off and then plugged the front porch light back in.  Now both lights are on the same cycle so when we power them up they are in manual mode and then the second time they toggle to motion sensing mode.

Now we have two new motion sensing porch lights that can either be on all the time in manual mode or be in motion sensing mode if we are away and do not want to advertise that we do not expect to be back until after dark.
Our new motion sensing porch lights in manual mode

Another nice feature of this particular brand of motion sensing light is that you can run other lights or anything 12V that does not draw more than 4 amps by adding the Revolution 2000 FB Fused Relay Box.  There is a yellow wire that comes off of the Smart Light 1000 that is used to connect to the fused relay box. 
Yellow wire to connect an additional fuse relay box for triggering other items
We hope you find our experience helpful.  We are by no means experts and may not have performed the above steps in a perfect manner, but it works for us.  Please do not take our experience as the way it should be done or the only way to tackle such a project.  Always be safe when working on your RV and use common sense.

We just wanted to show you how we did it and that it works.  If you need more information then please contact us.  If you like our blog then please sign up as a follower.  If you have FaceBook then please like our page and become our friends.

Also if you are not already registered on RVillage, you may want to.  It looks like it is going to be a really neat community to belong to, especially when you are in an RV park or area where there are other members.  If you do join, please send us a friend request on it too.

Just about everyday we meet someone new and share our lifestyle with them.  Some may thing we are crazy, but we love living like this and know God is leading us.

God bless and may He always shine light into your lives!

Don, Misty, and Kids...