I've got an older house (1958) and I want to control my outside light with a smart switch on a dusk to dawn schedule. Light sensor bulbs are not working properly in our outdoor housing. That light switch is in a 2 gang box with the other switch being a 3 pole light in the foyer. There appears to be 5 black wires in play here and I'm not understanding the setup. The switch on the right is the one for the outside bulb and will be the one that I want to replace with a smart switch. I have no plan to change the other to a smart switch, but I'll replace with just a paddle switch while I'm in there for appearance sake. Planning on using a GE Cync On/Off Paddle smart switch that does not require a neutral wire. I'm planning on tying the ground into the bare copper. Does it seem like this can be done with this setup. Thanks in advance for any help.
First of all, if "light sensor bulb" means "light bulb with an integral sensor", I'm not surprised they don't work very well. I would expect a light fixture to have a higher quality and better placed (possibly even adjustable location) sensor. That fixture could either have an integral LED driver/light or have E26 or similar socket for a light bulb.
But assuming that "smart switch" is the solution rather than "new fixture":
- Consider a switch that uses neutral. You have a neutral bundle in the back of the box, use it. The problem with switches that don't use neutral is they either piggyback on ground (OK if done legitimately, as shown by UL or ETL listing), but not ideal in my opinion (especially if you have GFCI on the circuit for some other reason, as generally GFCI is not needed on lighting circuits), or they leak some current through the light even when "off", which is often a problem with LED lighting. A switch that requires neutral should avoid these problems as it gets power the way the electrical system is designed to provide power - hot and neutral.
- The existing switch has power in (a.k.a., "hot" or "line") that also feeds other stuff - that's the loop around the left screw. And it has switched hot (a.k.a., "load") - that's the loop around the right screw. Some smart switches automatically figure it out and provide two connections for "line or load" and some specify "line here, load there" - so you should be fine either way. Assuming the "loop" is actually a loop and not two separate wires, I would tape over it well with black electrical tape and instead use the end that is in the wire nut (the other wire will also need to be connected to power something else, likely the 3-way light).