Landscapers and outdoor décor professionals may know more about using photocells to control lighting than most. Today, interior decorators and homeowners are using photocell lighting for indoor ambiance and security.

The Ins-and-Outs of Photocells

Photocell technology is based on semiconductors controlling electrical current. Normally, semiconductors won’t “conduct” electricity. But when exposed to the right amount of light, they generate a current. Indoor photo cellular lighting uses motion detectors to manage illumination.

If you’re spending time remembering (and forgetting) to turn the porch lights on and off, this technology is for you. Exterior photocells can control illumination based on the amount of existing daylight.

In addition to outside illumination, with a motion sensor, photocells become part of an interior security lighting system. They are often used for interior/exterior mood lighting. But savvy seniors are installing them indoors in hallways and bathrooms for safety.

Security Lighting Using Photocells

Using photocells for lighting isn’t exactly new technology. Cities have been using photocell lighting for streets and walkways for many years.

Property crime in Maricopa County is down. However, Glendale, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tolleson still rank among the top ten cities in Arizona for property crime.

Effective exterior lighting remains one of the biggest burglary deterrents. City parks use photocells to turn on at dusk or during darkness. They often program them to turn off a certain time every morning.

15 Exterior Lighting Applications

Ten-percent “dimming” photocell lighting for lawns and gardens is recommended by lighting engineer Annie Kuczkowski. In the United States, a zero-to-ten volt dimming system is the most common. It works well with commercial and residential under-deck lighting.

Here are 15 exterior photocell lighting ideas:

Address numbers

  1. Decks
  2. Front doors
  3. Garages
  4. Gardens
  5. Holidays
  6. Landscape
  7. Outdoor ceilings
  8. Pool areas
  9. Porches
  10. Railings
  11. She-sheds
  12. Staircases
  13. Trees
  14. Walkways
  15. Walls

22 Interior Beauty and Safety Lighting Ideas

Sometimes it’s called “destination lighting.” That’s when you use photocell lighting applications to set a tone…a feel…in a certain area of your home. Every room should have a mix of lighting, including overhead, accent and task lights.

But for safety, nothing beats a motion-activated photocell lighting system. You can even have a motion light installed under your bed! Your approach will trip the light and you’ll be able to see while you put your best foot forward.

Here are some interior lighting ideas for photocells and motion detection:

  1. Art highlights
  2. Baby/children’s bedrooms
  3. Bathrooms
  4. Bedside lamps
  5. Ceiling fans
  6. Ceiling/recessed
  7. Chandeliers
  8. Dining rooms
  9. Entrances
  10. Floor lamps
  11. Hallways
  12. Holiday displays
  13. Kitchen task areas
  14. Mirrors
  15. Religious worship settings/tables
  16. Shower stalls
  17. Skylights
  18. Staircases
  19. Under-bed
  20. Under-cabinet
  21. Under-chair
  22. Wall sconces


There is a DIY website for everything from ant farm construction to how-to build your own 3,000-sq.ft. house. We understand DIY (do-it-yourself) is trending, especially among common-sense Millennials.

Here’s some common-sense advice: Don’t DIY electricity. At least discuss your ideas and plans with a certified electrical contractor beforehand. If your project won’t jeopardize your property or personal safety, we’ll tell you.

If you manage your own electrical project and it results in fire and property loss, your insurance company may not cover the damages. But putting your loved ones’ lives at risk is the best reason not to DIY an electrical project.

Turn It On Electric professionals can deliver the light solutions you need at a price you can afford. Reach out to us today to share your lighting application ideas.

Scroll to Top