Porch ceiling light runs on timer inside front door, so on at a set time and off at a set time, I need to add an plug somewhere close to fixture for a security camera, how would I keep plug hot while porch light is off due to the timer ?

  • 1
    Get a photo sensor for the porch light and forget about the timer. – Mazura Nov 28 '18 at 1:41
  • Where does power come into this at? The timer or the light? – ThreePhaseEel Nov 28 '18 at 2:52

At some point, you need to split the power for the receptacle separate from the light. Where/how you can do that depends on whether you have:

  • Panel->Timer->Light or
  • Panel->Light->Timer (a switch loop)

The first method is what I instinctively think of, but depending on the design of the how building and when/how the light was added, you may have the second - a switch loop. If you have a switch loop then you can split the power at the light and everything is easy. But if not, them there are two ways to get power for the receptacle:

  • At the current timer location. This is normally the best way, but it requires running a new cable from the timer junction box to the receptacle. That may be easy, or it may be quite difficult.

  • At the light. This is actually quite easy if the light is not on a timer. As @Mazura suggested, if you can replace the existing light fixture with one that has a photo sensor (sometimes called "dusk to dawn") then you can:

    • Split the power in the junction box that supplies the light. Depending on how the light is installed, you may be able to add a split (pigtail wires) in that box, or you may need to install a new box next to it. But either way, everything can be close together and you don't need to run a new cable through the wall.
    • Either in the same junction box or in one next to it, install the receptacle for the security camera. Normally I'm not a big fan of receptacles in hard-to-reach places like a porch ceiling, but in this case that is exactly what you want, so that the power cable to the camera is not easy to reach. (I've seen a porch security camera with a wire hanging down to a wall wart plugged into a standard-height receptacle.)

Another advantage of changing the light to a photo sensor is that you no longer have to worry about adjusting the timing over the course of the year.

  • 1
    It could be that the timer's on a switch loop to begin with. – ThreePhaseEel Nov 28 '18 at 2:53
  • @ThreePhaseEel It took me a minute to figure out the possible scenarios - yes, if this is a switch loop and power actually comes in at the existing fixture, then you could install a receptacle and keep the timer on the light and not have to run a new cable. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Nov 28 '18 at 2:59

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