How to Disable Dusk to Dawn Sensor

Are you tired of having your outdoor lighting switched on and off simultaneously every day? If so, you likely have a dusk-to-dawn sensor installed.

A dusk-to-dawn sensor, a photocell, is a handy feature in outdoor lighting fixtures. It provides an energy-efficient way to automatically turn on lights as the natural light fades and turn them off when daylight returns. While it’s a practical and convenient way to maintain outdoor illumination automatically, there are times when you may want to disable the dusk-to-dawn sensor.

How to Disable Dusk to Dawn Sensor

Disabling this feature is not as difficult as you may think – all it takes is a few simple steps. With just a little effort, you can enjoy complete control over when your lights turn on and off! Keep reading to learn how to disable your dusk-to-dawn sensor in no time. So keep reading to learn more about how to disable dusk to dawn sensor.

Understanding Dusk-To-Dawn Sensors

Before diving into how to disable your outdoor security light or landscape lights with a Dusk to Dawn Sensor, it’s important to understand how these sensors work. These sensors, often called photocells, detect the light levels in their surroundings.

When the ambient light levels drop below a certain threshold, typically at sunset, the sensor sends a signal to turn on the connected light. Conversely, the sensor deactivates the attached light as the sun rises and light levels increase.

Tips on How to Disable Dusk-to-Dawn Sensor

1. Identify the Sensor

The next step is locating the dusk-to-dawn sensor. Generally, these are installed on the exterior light fixtures or the electrical box connected to the fixture. It typically looks like a small cylinder or container with a clear or frosted facing that detects the levels of natural light. Once you have found the sensor, proceed to the next step.

How to Disable Dusk to Dawn Sensor

2. Locate Your Sensor

Most dusk to dawn sensors are located in the base of outdoor light fixtures or on a separate sensor attached to the institution. In some instances, they may be integrated into the light bulb itself. Carefully examine the fixture or the bulb to locate the sensor – it usually appears as a small, lens-like component facing outside.

3. Access the Sensor

Gaining access to the sensor may require removing a protective cover or panel on the light fixture or unscrewing the light bulb. Use a screwdriver, if necessary, to remove any screws or latches holding the body in place. Keep track of any small screws, nuts, or parts to replace them when finished.

4. Disconnect the Sensor

Once you’ve located and accessed it, you will typically find two or three color-coded wires connected. These wires send power to the fixture when the sensor detects low light conditions. Take a close look at these wires and, if possible, snap a photo with your smartphone for reference when re-connecting them later. Carefully disconnect these wires either by unscrewing or unplugging them. If the wire connections are hardwired and cannot be easily detached, you may need to cut the wires and strip the ends for reconnection later.

5. Bypass the Sensor

To disable the dusk-to-dawn sensor and maintain continuous power to the light fixture, you must establish a direct connection between the power supply wires and the light. Using the reference photo you took earlier, connect the power supply wires to the corresponding wires connected to the sensor. Use twist-on wire connectors or nuts to secure the wires together. Be sure to twist the connectors clockwise as you thread them onto the wires, ensuring they are properly secured.

6. Reassemble the Fixture

Replace any protective covers or panels you removed earlier, and return the light bulb to its socket if you have to remove it. Ensure that all screws, nuts, and parts are securely in place, and double-check that the wiring connections are still secured.

Warning Tips on Disabling Dusk-To-Dawn Sensors

1. Before attempting to disable the dusk-to-dawn sensor, ensure that you take all necessary safety precautions. Disconnect the power supply to the light fixture, switch off the circuit breaker, or turn off the power switch.

2. Use protective eyewear and gloves when working on any electrical components.

3. Keep track of all small screws, nuts, and parts as you work to ensure they are replaced correctly.

4. Double-check that the wiring connections are securely in place once you have completed your work on the fixture.

5. If you are uncertain about your ability to disable the dusk-to-dawn sensor, consult a professional electrician safely.

6. Replace any damaged parts or wiring before reassembling the fixture. This will help ensure that it is operating safely and correctly.

Avoid Dusk to Dawn Sensor While Buying.

When purchasing a motion-sensing light, it is best to avoid dusk-to-dawn sensors. While this type of sensor will automatically trigger your lights when darkness falls, they also tend to short-cycle while the sun is still up.

This could lead to unnecessary waste of energy and can even reduce the lifespan of your light bulb.

How to Disable Dusk to Dawn Sensor

Furthermore, dusk to dawn sensors lack scheduling capabilities, so you won’t be able to time your lights in advance and customize when you need them most.

Instead, for greater control, look for a motion sensor with adjustable settings, such as manually switching on/off or utilizing a timer that offers more control over illumination times.

Frequently Asked Question

Q: What Should I Do if I Am Unsure of How To Disable a Dusk-To-Dawn Sensor Safely?

A: If you are unsure about your ability to disable a dusk-to-dawn sensor safely, it is best to consult an experienced electrician. This will ensure the job is done correctly and with minimal risk of damage or injury. Also, always take proper safety precautions, such as disconnecting the power supply and turning off the circuit.

Q: Do Dusk to Dawn Lights Use Electricity When Off?

A: No, dusk to dawn lights do not use electricity when off. These lights have a built-in sensor that detects when night has fallen and turns on the light accordingly. During daylight hours, the sensors remain inactive, and the fixture uses no electricity. Therefore, these lights are both energy-efficient and cost-effective.


Disabling a dusk-to-dawn sensor can be done with minimal risk of damage or injury if you take all necessary safety precautions and know precisely what to do.

Following the steps outlined in this article and double-checking wiring connections once complete, you should have no problem successfully disabling your dusk-to-dawn sensor. However, it’s always best to consult an experienced electrician when dealing with electrical components for extra peace of mind.

Furthermore, avoiding buying fixtures equipped with these types of sensors is advisable. They lack scheduling capabilities and tend to short cycle while the sun is still up, leading to unnecessary energy waste. Thanks for reading our post about how to disable the dusk to dawn sensor.

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