23 January 2012

Swing and a Miss

A few weeks ago, when I wrote about the nothing-special-but-stuff-we've-been-needing gifts that Steve and I exchanged for Christmas, there was one thing (actually, six of the same thing) that I got for him that I left out of the post. I don't know why I didn't include them, but it's just as well, 'cause they aren't gonna work for us.

What I got him was six of these:

The goal was to have the exterior lights go on automatically at dusk and turn off at dawn. (Side note: this is one area where the green building community is at odds with the law enforcement community. The police advise keeping houses well-lit at night, which is effortless with dusk-to-dawn sensors; our utility company (which administers Austin's green building program) sees this as a big waste of electricity. We tend to side with the police on this one, so dusk-to-dawn sensors have been on our to-do list for a while.)

Unfortunately, they didn't work for us. For two reasons, actually. First, this:

This is what the front porch looked like during the day. All day. The lights never turned off. The porch provided too much shade, so the sensors always thought it was dusk.

Second, the style of lights we have on the front of the house are designed so that you kind of see the bulb through two layers of glass. The glow of the bulb is supposed to be in the middle, but the light sensors bumped the bulbs down a couple of inches. (Up close, you could actually see the CFLs poking out the bottom.) No bueno.

So back to Home Depot they went. And now the lights are back to their former glory:

So we're on the hunt for different sensors that are more sensitive and aren't nearly as bulky. I don't know if they exist. (But I didn't know that an MP3 player that you could use underwater existed when I asked Steve for just such a device for my birthday a few years ago, and that didn't stop him from finding me this miracle of engineering.)

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