Photocell Options

theroofable

Veteran Member
Anyone have any experience finding or using a photocell to control the hi/low option on LED lights? I have to upgrade the lighting some fire apparatus, and would much rather use a photocell than a switch, simply because nobody will ever use the switch. I saw that Whelen had possibly made one called DOTPHOTO, but could not find anything other than a picture. It looked like a small flush mount photocell. All I need it to do is provide a +12v signal to trip the low power mode. Any help is appreciated. If possible, I would like to keep it with a name brand manufacturer, and not eBay junk that will fail in two weeks.
 

wilsonbr90

Wilson LED
Although it sounds like a good idea I believe there are times when even at night low power mode would not be a good idea. Having insufficient light breaking an intersection and causing an accident the insurance is going to come back to not enough light output. I would say a better option would be to hook it to a park switch. So when in park ot would kick down to low power. You'd still want a toggle to disengage it.

If the sun casts a shadow onto the sensor at sundown and trips low power are you going to have enough warning potential then?

Too much is better than not enough.
 
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theroofable

theroofable

Veteran Member
I understand what you are saying. However, if you are at an intersection and you cause an accident, you are at fault if you do not yield to traffic anyway. It does not matter if you have a teardrop or lights decked out everywhere. As far as I know, the lights are still certified if they are dimmed. Also, what if you have the park dimming, and are in a blocking position on a divided highway in the lane in the bright sunlight?

I do not know if anyone else here has see rear of a fire apparatus at night with m9 lights, but they are way too bright. I think it would be safe to say that they would still be brighter than many other lights even while being dimmed. There is a reason that lightbars have photocell options now. The dimming option doesn't make them that dim anyway, it just takes the edge off for night time use.
 

OVERKILL

Member
Well the good news is most photo cells are not voltage sensitive. At least the two wire one aren't. And you can get them at any home improvement store
 

Jamey@NNE

Silver Supporter
code 3 uses them on their lightbars. our old defender demo used to take a glove or something covering the sensor before it would trip.
 

wilsonbr90

Wilson LED
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theroofable

theroofable

Veteran Member
Anything is possible I guess. I find it unlikely that insurance would be able to even find out that they were on a photocell. I will inquire whether dimming the lights takes away their certifications. If they do not, then there isn't anything they could do anyway. On a side note, have you seen lights dimmed in the daytime? I am sure you have since you work with them a lot. I do not see a huge difference.

Another thing to consider: a 20 year old apparatus is rear ended, and the only rear warning is two hazed 900 series strobe lights in the rear. Would insurance cover this accident or would they say the lights were too dim? Not being argumentative, just putting some scenarios out there.
 
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theroofable

theroofable

Veteran Member
I'm sure that will be the case. Especially when the state law (here) requires much less:
The driver of a vehicle upon a highway shall yield the right of way to any authorized emergency vehicle when it is operated on official business, or in the exercise of the driver's profession or calling, in response to an emergency call or in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law and when an audible signal by bell, siren, exhaust whistle or other means is sounded from the authorized emergency vehicle and when the authorized emergency vehicle, except a police vehicle, is equipped with at least one lighted lamp displaying a red light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front of the vehicle.

I suppose you wouldn't be able to see a dimmed light 500 feet away now would you?

Is it likely that manufacturers would offer an option which would make their lights non compliant? Is it likely that photocells would be offered on the Whelen lightbars if it would make their lights non compliant? I do not think so. Would the new CanTrol system have a photocell input if it was non compliant? How about some other threads where people replaced older halogen lights with cannons in them? I don't remember anyone saying, "if you get into an accident you won't be covered".

Here is something from the Whelen catalog:
Optional Photocell automatically dims the lightbar at night and still meets SAE Class 1 requirements in low power mode.

Everything being said here is speculation, and has nothing to back it up. I believe that adding a photocell to control the lighting power will be a NFPA requirement within the next 10 years. Why? Because there are an increased number of accidents due to lights being too bright on the back of vehicles. I am not sure why this thread has received so much negativity due to something that will improve nighttime safety. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion though.
 

wilsonbr90

Wilson LED
Please don't take me as being argumentive, friendly discussion is all. Hard to pervey through text.

Honestly I think it's a genius idea. Obviously other light companies have the technology and have used it.

Personally as an emergency vehicle operator I believe the person in control of thr apparatus should have the proper training to know what lights and when to use it, just the same as cycling tones of the siren at intersections and such.

I understand sub par lighting. We run a 2001 international box ambulance as our rescue. It's set up kkk package with 2 red 900s and 1 amber 900 strobe that only comes on with the white to the front. Lenses are more than faded. Tubes are half life. Flasher is worn out. It has over 150k miles. But the lighting output is spec to when the vehicle was built. Do I wholly believe that someone with the right lawyer could hold it against us if they rearended us, you bet your pants! There is such thing as maintenance and if the lights no longer meet there in service rating then we are at fault for not maintaining our equipment. Same reason there are pump tests.

There's plenty of photocell options, I believe even the eBay ones would treat you well. The thing that kills photocell is amperage, and since I assume you would be just triggering the low power wire your looking at 2 amps tops for a dozen modules.

But me personally as a licensed operator, if you took away function of my lights from me I would not drive code3. Therefore I believe it should be trained to the drivers. Just like radio etiquette and PPE. That vehicle is dangerous in the wrong hands, and I think you will find lighting situations where high power is necessary, but without an override your out of luck.
 
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theroofable

theroofable

Veteran Member
No problem, I did not feel that it had left the discussion stage. I just do not think the liability issue would be there for some simple reasons. If the photocell were to somehow activate during the daytime, the light would still be compliant with state requirements, and SAE requirements. Even the best lawyer would have nothing to go on, as it is just another mode for the light to operate in, and still remain fully compliant. If someone were to rear end a parked apparatus, they would be at fault in the accident. Regardless of whether the light was on, dim, or even off.

While I do agree with what you are saying about the operator having control over the functions. I had planned on using a switch to break the signal going to the low power wire, so full brightness could be achieved when desired (for the circumstances you stated: shadow, dusk, etc.). When it comes to reality, how many people in your department would actually remember to hit the switch for night time, or even understand what it means? I know there are people like you and me in every department, but then there are those who know nothing other than turning on the master switch for all the lights.
 

wilsonbr90

Wilson LED
as32.postimg.org_ydxjcrxz9_Screenshot_2016_05_07_22_31_24.png

Here's a snippet from nfpa guidelines. For large apparatus in blocking mode it should have a minimum candela rating. No mention of whether it's night or day
We'll continue in PM. :beer:
 

acala91

Veteran Member
If it's possible to only have the photocell activate low power when the vehicle is parked, I think that would be ideal.
 

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