I would like to have the switch work to give power to outdoor lights when we are active on the patio, then hit the switch and turn off outdoor lights and send power to motion activated light. This way the motion activated light won’t keep on activating while family is on the patio. Then we hit switch to go to bed and motion activated light turns on and outdoor lights turn off. Was hoping to do it with one switch instead of two

  • Just use a switch that changes between two contacts - such as those used for hall or stairs lights where the lights can be controlled from two places.
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 12 '21 at 10:47
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    Aside: Some motion-activated sensors incorporate a feature that allows you to override the sensor function, e.g. by flipping the power switch on/off/on quickly. See this answer.
    – HABO
    Apr 12 '21 at 14:30

If both sets of lights are on the same circuit at the same location, a 3-way switch is all you'll need. Since neutrals will be tied together, connect the feed to the dark screw (common terminal) and the load, usually black or red, from each set of lights to the two remaining terminals on the switch.

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    The switch is called a single pole double throw but that is what a 3 way switch is. The common or dark colored screw switches between the other 2 screws and will toggle the lights as requested switch in 1 position powers the lights directly in the other powers the motion sensor I had my driveway lights wired this way at my last home.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 12 '21 at 13:44
  • @EdBeal It's funny you brought this up because at first i was thinking you need a SPDT ..... this used to be the format for all switches. and relays. then came home improvement stores. I guess they figured all those four letter combos were too confusing. Most of the boxes are now labeled 3-way, 4-way, etc.
    – JACK
    Apr 12 '21 at 14:46
  • Jack today folks don’t understand the difference or get them confused. When I in my early years there were actually old switches with multiple poles open contacts (don’t see them today at least open frame) except Frankenstein movies lol.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 12 '21 at 15:31
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    And it doesn't help that the SPDT is in some places also called a 2-way switch. Perhaps the marketing folks at a home improvement store found 3 screws on it and called it "3-way" to give it more umpf.
    – P2000
    Apr 12 '21 at 17:05

If your motion sensitive lights do not come on during the day when you walk by, then they also have a built in light sensor and are designed to not come on if there's enough light.

Simply re-aim one of your existing outdoor lights to shine more directly on the motion sensor and the sensor's light detector should automatically disable the motion sensing action.

If it's not possible to get enough light shining on the motion sensor, install some decorative string lights that you can turn on when you're on the porch. Have one bulb hanging as close as reasonably possible to the motion detector and that should do the trick.

  • Very elegant solution, because it needs no rewiring.
    – P2000
    Apr 12 '21 at 17:06

What you are looking for is a 120v double pole switch (search google, amazon, etc for more info and circuit examples). That will allow you to use one switch to control 2 circuits. You would wire the regular light to be on in the on position and the motion controlled light to be on is the off position.

  • Maybe if you add double throw, Single pole double throw would be the correct switch. Double pole is 2 separate switches tied to the same handle. Double throw each pole has a common and a no/nc contact change the switch position and the contacts change to nc/no. No need for the extra pole here.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 12 '21 at 13:50

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