Updating an antique outdoor light with a motion sensor

antique outdoor light

There is a story behind this antique light. It has sat in a garage, moved across thousands of miles, and just sat there waiting for the day I would hang it. By my guesstimate, it is at least 51 years old and it hung on my husband’s family farm for many years illuminating the front of the old run down machine shed. 18 years ago, the machine shed had to be torn down (shortly after we were married) because another neighbor had bought the acreage it sat on many years before.

I had my husband at the time remove the light because I thought it was cool and it was a piece of my husband’s past. A reminder that we could carry with us of his heritage and his parents’ humble beginnings. I have wanted to hang this light for years but living in the suburbs I felt it would not work in our current home. However, over the past months I have longed to hang the light over the deck and thought of how I could do it.antique light with motion sensor

Swivels in the wind.

Swivels in the wind.

I used to have low voltage lights in the back yard but the transformer died and so I put in solar lights. The problem with solar lights is that they do not last all night. Lighting up the deck and back yard had become an obsession with me and recently an urgency. You are probably wondering ‘urgency’ and I reluctantly write about my ruined rug from my little Gerdy Mae (my Jack/Fox Terrier) who has after 4 years decided to urinate on the living room rug.  I was horrified because having a dog or cat urinating or defecating in the house is unacceptable to me. Knowing she has severe separation anxiety when I leave her (and she does have a playmate our 3 year old Australian Shepherd) I knew that there was a reason she was doing this. We threw out the room size rug in the living room and I cleaned the floors. The wood floors were not damaged and so I put down the throw rug for the cord and hoped that this was the end.Jack Rusell/Fox terrier mix

After several nights I came to the conclusion she  is afraid of the dark. Yes, she is afraid of the dark. The night she peed on the rug, the moon was not out which makes the back yard pitch black. At that point, the light bulb went off! The old shed light would work perfect over the deck (doggy door exits onto deck).

I had some ideas and it involved an old heavy duty extension cord, some sort of bracket to hang high up, and how to make it with a motion sensor. I also wanted it only to go on and off at night and I did not want to have to remember to plug it in every night. I actually had a new outdoor timer from years ago I had bought on clearance that I knew would be perfect for this light. I mentioned to my husband what I wanted t and so he agreed to help me since I am not one to climb up a 20 foot ladder.

this light bulb has been in here since they day it was taken down 18 years ago!

this light bulb has been in here since they day it was taken down 18 years ago!

What is cool about this whole project is that through 18 years of handling, moving across the country, and not being used in years the light bulb works! It is not a regular light bulb either. It has a very large base and it is probably about 2 or maybe 300  watts! It is cool but I am going to be looking for a LED replacement soon. Since we are not planning on staying in this home for more than a year, I did not want to wire the light directly. I also decided I was going to use one of the many outdoor extension cords we have had hanging in the garage. Having this light on a timer or a motion detector was important so I would not have to leave a 200+ watt light on all night in the back yard. Since we have cats and dogs coming and going all day and night (the cats are housebroke and go outside), I knew the antique light would go perfect above the patio door and grill area.antique light

This light is made to go up at least 20 feet but we could not get it any higher than about 15′ on the back of the house over the deck. It lights up most of the back yard which is what the goal was. My hubby is glad he helped me get it up and I love it because I can turn the motion sensor off and keep the light on to work in the back yard after dark!

You can see how bright he light is

You can see how bright he light is

I know many people may wonder why not spray paint but my answer is this: this is a sentimental piece with history. I have always tried to keep a piece close to original to preserve the history and beauty of age. I admit I get emotionally attached to pieces. I put the directions for how we wired the antique light with a motion sensor at the end. I believe I am going to convert a couple more lights with notion sensors too.

I hope you enjoyed my little project and if you have a light that is just ‘hanging around’ then this may get your creative juices flowing. I hope I gave enough information to get you started. I think I will do a post just on electrical tips. What do you think?

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2015 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @ The Garden Frog Boutique

I make no express warranty or safety on this #DIY project. (Just my experience that this works)

antique outdoor light

Materials list: 2 waterproof round electrical boxes, 3 connectors, heavy duty outdoor extension cord, a cheap motion sensor light, cover plates, plastic staples to attach cord to the house, and screws

We bought the cheapest motion detector light because the sensors alone were $6 more

We bought the cheapest motion detector light because the sensors alone were $6 more. We chose this one because the motion sensor and lights screwed off the base.

Forgot to take a picture but the sensor will twist/screw off

Forgot to take a picture but the sensor will twist/screw off

We added a 2nd electrical box at the height of the doggy door since the light was going to be 15' in the air

We added a 2nd electrical box at the height of the doggy door since the light was going to be 15′ in the air

We had an outdoor outlet already by the deck. the timer plugs in to the electrical box and the white cord for the light is measured from the outlet to the box where the sensor is and add about 5 inches of extra wire/cord

We had an outdoor outlet already by the deck. the timer plugs in to the electrical box and the white cord for the light is measured from the outlet to the box where the sensor is and add about 5 inches of extra wire/cord

The 1st electrical box is for the light to hang. We just made a simple bracket for the light out of leftover 2x4s. Hang the light and run the cord down so you can see how cord you need

The 1st electrical box is for the light to hang. We just made a simple bracket for the light out of leftover 2x4s. Hang the light and run the cord down so you can see how cord you need

tip for stripping wire

This is a great tip for stripping electrical cords and wires

Stripping wire back about 1/2

Stripping wire back about 1/2″

tip for wiring: twist the wires tightly and then make a hook and put it around the screw in the direction you will tighten the screw

tip for wiring: twist the wires tightly and then make a hook and put it around the screw in the direction you will tighten the screw

From the light down to the electrical box for the sensor measure how much cord/wire you need an add about 5

From the light down to the electrical box for the sensor measure how much cord/wire you need an add about 5″ to work with

Hook the black power wire from the outlet and motion sensor together. Then hook the red power wire and the black power wire coming down from the light together. Then tie the colored ground wires together as show

Hook the black power wire from the outlet and motion sensor together. Then hook the red power wire and the black power wire coming down from the light together. Then tie the colored ground wires together as show

antique outdoor light

After we made sure to have enough cord and wired everything together, we used plastic staples to neatly attach to the house.

The sensor is pointing parallel to the doggy door about foot off the deck floor

The sensor is pointing parallel to the doggy door about foot off the deck floor

updating an antique outdoor light with a motion sensor

At night the deck is lit up

Step off the deck and I can see the fountain!

Step off the deck and I can see the fountain!

The pond is in the back of the yard and was even lit up a little!

The pond is in the back of the yard and was even lit up a little!

 

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