Secure Home Motion Activated Solar Light (SH-7103-WH)

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Recently there were a few break-ins in our neighborhood so I decided to add some additional security measures to our shed. The contents of the shed certainly wouldn’t be a goldmine for anyone but there are a few tools that would be inconvenient to replace. The area wasn’t well lit so I decided to add a motion-activated security light. Just as with the car port, I added a solar powered light. However, this one is more powerful and appears to work much better than the other light.

I bought a Secure Home Motion Activated Solar Light (SH-7103-WH). The cost came in at about $150 dollars but upon opening the box the difference is immediately noticeable. Instead of using rechargeable AA batteries this one uses a single, large 6V sealed battery. Once mounted and working it was also apparent that the lights were much brighter than the one in my carport.

I’ve had the light in place for about a week and a half and so far it’s worked without any problems or noticeable dimming.

The first night I set it up I did have a problem with the light turning on and off again repeatedly. The motion sensor was somehow being re-triggered. Overall, I suspect the problem was related to a significant swing in the outdoor temperature from the time I first turned it on until later at night. I turned the light off, waited a couple of minutes, and then turned it back on. Since then I haven’t noticed a problem.

Updated 01/24/2013: So far the light works just as well as it did when I installed it despite the shorter days.

Updated 05/22/2013: It’s still working great.

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Replacing X10 Motion Sensors (MS14A) with Insteon Motion Sensors (2420M)

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The Short Version: The Insteon motion sensors cost nearly ten times more than the X10 motion sensors but they are very reliable (as long as you have the necessary APs to send the signals over a reasonable distance or through several walls).

Ever since I started using home automation devices I’ve relied on X10 motion sensors for several different tasks. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed consistent communication problems between the X10 devices and the computer. Due to the manner in which Insteon devices communicate I haven’t noticed issues with those devices. Some of the X10 light switches don’t respond from time-to-time. That’s not as big of a concern as having problems with the motion sensors.

Reluctantly (because of the cost), I ordered Insteon motion sensors to replace the X10 sensors. I paired the sensors with the PLC and then added them to the device information in mControl. Communication problems seemed non-existent. Sure, they cost considerably more than X10 sensors, but what good are X10 sensors if they don’t work as needed?

The Insteon motion sensors also have a red LED that pulses at a regular interval. However, unlike as with the X10 sensors, it’s very noticeable. Fortunately, it can be disabled, which I did with one of the sensors.

Updated 12/12/2011: Don’t forget to link your motion sensors to an AP or the controller itself.

MAXSA Innovations 40218 (Solar-Powered Motion Security Light)

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One of my pet projects has become adding solar-powered lighting to our property. My goal is to increase security, ambiance, and safety around our property without having to extend power or add to our electric bill. On more than one occasion I’ve walked into a raised water faucet in the yard at night on my way to a shed (the last time this happened I went to Lowe’s the next day and bought a solar spotlight for that area).

I wanted to add a motion-activated light to our carport to provide a little more security around the cars and to illuminate the area better when we return home after dark (some light from the back porch bleeds over but it’s not always on and the carport wall blocks much of it). Since we don’t have power run out there I started looking at solar-powered options and settled on the MAXSA Innovations 40218. Overall, reviews seemed positive and since I wasn’t lighting a particularly large area I wasn’t too concerned if the LEDs turned out to not be especially bright.

Last weekend I installed it. The light/motion detector assembly is inside the carport and the solar panel was easily installed on the outside edge of the roof (thanks to a 9′ cable that came with it). So far I’ve been impressed with the light output. It’s not brilliant, but it does a good job of covering the carport, especially the areas near the lights. The motion detector reaches just to the edge of the carport when set near maximum sensitivity.

It’s currently mounted on the lower edge of the carport wall, where it’s within reach. I may move it up higher so anyone goofing around the carport can’t turn it off as easily, while I could still adjust simply enough with a ladder. It’s also not centered, which is a minor issue but it would probably look better if installed a board up higher to mount it near the center. I’ll also need to point the sensor down a bit more. Currently, it doesn’t detect motion that’s very close to the light and almost beneath it.

Updated 11/27/2011: For several months the light worked just as well as when it was new. About two weeks ago I noticed that it wasn’t working. Finally, about a week ago I replaced the rechargeable batteries with a set of Eneloop AAs that I recently purchased. So far it’s working. I’ll monitor the light to ensure that it’s actually recharging the batteries and not just operating off the original charge in the new batteries. If it stops working then I’ll check the solar panel and see if it’s dirty.

Updated 04/11/2012: Replacing the batteries didn’t solve the problem but the cause appears to have been exactly what I thought it would be. The solar panel was dirty. I think it was covered with dust and pollen along with a little bit of bird crap. I changed the tilt of the panel to its steepest setting (it was sitting flat with the hope that it would catch more sun) and then shot the hose up at it to clean it off. It seems to be working properly once again.

And yes, I really did put off fixing the problem for more than four months…

Updated 01/03/2012: Once again, I had to replace the batteries to get this light working in the winter. I installed a different solar powered motion light on my shed and I’m considering replacing this one with that model.

Updated 07/28/2013: This thing can’t seem to keep the batteries alive through a winter and barely manages to work with a fresh set. I haven’t even bothered to replace the batteries this season. At the moment it’s little more than an ornament. I’ll probably just remove it and toss into our pile of items for a yard sale. The other solar light I purchased is still working great and a similar model will likely replace this one.