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How to Adjust Dusk to Dawn Light Sensor

    Energy costs are on the rise, and so are the number of ways to get around it. We all know that we should be saving electricity in order to lower our carbon footprint, and luckily there is a simple way to do just this when it comes to our outdoor lighting. 

    Some people will ask: ‘why don’t you just not use outdoor lighting?’, and to this, we would simply list off the number of benefits that come with it. Outdoor lighting can deter burglars, unwanted guests, and animals. Plus, it looks nice! 

    Luckily, dusk to dawn light sensors are a great solution to saving electricity while using outdoor lighting. Today we’ll be looking at how to adjust your sensor so that you can be sure you’re using it correctly as soon as you install it.

    What is a dusk to dawn light sensor?

    Before we get into how to use a dusk to dawn light sensor, let’s first quickly recap on what they are and how they work. You might have heard about them but not know exactly what they do and how they can help you. 

    So, a dusk to dawn light sensor is a motion sensor bulb that controls whether the light is on or not depending on the natural light situation. Once the light sensor detects sunrise it will turn the lights off, and once the natural lighting level has dwindled to sunset, the sensor will turn the outdoor light back on. 

    Dusk to dawn light sensors are a helpful thing to install when you often forget to turn your outdoor lights off or on at the correct times, or you want to save electricity. 

    An example of this is when you wake up later than the sunrise. For example, the sun can rise as early as 4am during the summer, which is earlier than many people’s morning wake up calls. 

    Say you woke up at 7am, your outdoor lighting would be on unnecessarily for at least three hours before you turned it off. A dusk to dawn light sensor turning the lighting off as soon as the sun rises can save you lots of money in energy costs in the long run. 

    How do they work?

    One method is that dusk to dawn light sensors use photocells to detect natural light to toggle the lights on and off. Once the photocells detect natural light, it will send a message to the toggle to turn the lights off. When they can find no bright natural light, they will turn the lights on again. 

    These are great in theory, although they don’t work as well on bad weather days. An overcast day might force the lights to be on throughout the entire day when they’re not needed because the photocells can’t detect enough bright natural light. 

    Another way that these sensors can work is with timers. This allows you to set the time that you want the lights to be turned on and off. You have more control over these sensors, but you will have to change the times according to the time of year. 

    A lot of dusk to dawn light sensors will also have a motion sensor incorporated into them to turn the lights on when they detect a person in the vicinity of your house. This is a great feature for finding your way to the house in the dark, as well as deterring trespassers or animals. 

    Adjusting your dusk to dawn light sensor

    Dusk to dawn light sensors often give you the opportunity to alter the brightness, sensitivity, and other settings on them. These give you control over them so that you can adjust them to work precisely to your liking. 

    With the rise of technology, more dusk to dawn light sensors are coming equipped with smartphone apps that you can use to control them, making this task easier than ever before. The apps most commonly come with dusk to dawn light sensors with timers for your convenience. 

    To adjust the settings of these sensors, simply follow the following steps: 

    1. Install the app and link it to your dusk to dawn light sensor. If you have already done this, simply launch the app. 
    2. Find the settings page for the device you’re wanting to adjust. 
    3. Change the settings you’re not happy with, such as the sensitivity of the sensor or the timer settings.

    Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is – the use of apps with these sensors has been made common to make adjusting settings as simple and quick for you. 

    However, cheaper or older dusk to dawn light sensors do not always have an app to use them with, making adjusting them a little more difficult. However, manually changing the settings will still only take you a few steps, which we have listed below: 

    1. Locate the light and timer. If it’s installed on an exterior wall, you’ll need to get a ladder so that you can comfortably reach the toggles. You might need to temporarily remove the light from the wall so that you can reach the switches.
    2. Find the toggle switches and adjust them accordingly, such as the timer and brightness of the light. 
    3. Reposition the light back to its original position. 

    Adjusting your dusk to dawn light sensor can be straightforward, but be careful if you need to reach the light itself so that you don’t injure yourself. Always use a stable ladder and remove the light from the wall if you cannot reach the toggles safely. 

    How to adjust the light manually?

    Up until this point, we have been looking at dusk to dawn light sensors that have toggles on them to alter the brightness and sensitivity of the lights automatically. However, what happens when your sensor doesn’t have these capabilities? 

    Don’t worry, you can still make your light brighter or adjust the sensor sensitivity, but you’ll just have to get a little more creative. 

    For example, a good way to adjust the brightness is to locate the light behind some foliage, so that the light doesn’t shine as brightly and obviously. Bear in mind that keeping the light behind plants can keep the light on for longer as the plants will be blocking some of the natural light. 

    Another option is to use a circuit diagram so that you can determine where you sensitize your sensor. This allows you to alter its original settings to make it more or less sensitive to natural light, altering the times that it turns on and off. 


    A dusk to dawn light sensor is a great piece of equipment that you can use to deter animals and trespassers, as well as illuminate your yard between sunset and sunrise. However, the initial settings are not always to everyone’s taste. 

    Sensors with timers are very easy to alter, either with an app or manually on the light itself. Most lights will also allow you to alter the sensitivity and brightness of the sensor in the same way. 

    However, older or more basic dusk to dawn light sensors might need to be modified to achieve these results. Only do this if you feel confident enough – if not, it might be worth enlisting the help of a professional or purchasing a newer light sensor with these features built-in.