10 Key Facts You Should Know About LED Street Light with Photocell

Author: Marina

Feb. 04, 2024

Lights & Lighting

In today's culture, energy-saving methods are always improving to keep on top of technological advances and perform as smart and effectively as possible. To stay ahead of the game, it is important to the application of energy-saving methods.

For this to be performed in outdoor lighting like led streetlights, illumination control should be exact, meaning that the lighting project engineers should connect the led streetlights and the smart controllers from the various suppliers into an ideal lighting solution. Because of the knowledge asymmetry between the two sides in the technical field, lighting project engineers are prone to offer you the plan in their interest to make more money, chop surplus stocks and seek the greatest profit. However, this is unfair to you. Because it is probable that the solution they're offering is not in your interest, although it costs you more money.

Accurate control gives better possibilities for conserving energy, cutting costs,s and integrated control. understanding these linked facts and how led street lights function with photocell is crucial for you to pick the proper lighting project and prevent you away from buying traps. Here are 7 things you need to know about led streetlights and photocells.

The street light application situation

The main component of the city lighting project is street lighting. The illumination of streets at night plays a crucial function. Currently, led street lights are increasingly replacing conventional street lighting. Due to its excellent luminous efficiency, long life, low energy consumption, and simple installation, led street lights are extensively utilized.


The current anticipations of led street light control

The monitoring of city street lights is constantly a frontier topic in the lighting profession, both domestically and internationally. Most researchers have conducted extensive research. GPRS and Internet technologies are the primary technology tools that may be used to arrange the software structure rationally and enable the control terminal personnel to swiftly access any information within their purview through the host server. hence it is simply to perform remote detection of the operating state of street lights and promptly issue control instructions. Here are some current expectations for led street light control.

a) Specific

Previously, the control of street lights was achieved by the centralized control of the entire region or the full line. As people become more conscious of energy conservation and environmental protection, they have new requirements for the control of street lights. Now, the control demands precise control so that every light can be controlled. It must not only be able to regulate the condition of the street light but also comprehend the operating status of a particular street light.

b) Intelligent

The control system can intelligently monitor the street lights and switch them on automatically when illumination is required and off precisely when it is no longer required.

c) Remote

Through the GPRS network, Internet technology, and power line carrier technology, the control system provides remote control of the street light monitoring. The monitoring staff can acquire the operational status of the street lighting at any time and from any location. Any information collection and control activity is unnecessary on the premises.

d) Energy-saving

Under the need of guaranteeing basic lighting, the purpose of led street light operation management should be to save as much energy as possible, achieving maximum energy conservation.

What is street light photocell?

Photocell, also named daylight sensor or dusk to dawn sensor, the illumination value of the place of the street light is it's on/off standard. The light is automatically switched on and off by detecting the ambient lighting level.

Video of SE Street Light with photocell

The only downside of time control

Time control changes the on/off state of LED street lights according to time events, which can be done by an internal timer. To save energy, controlled LED street lights will turn on and off at predetermined times. This control method is suitable for periods when the weather does not change within the same season. Because the time of sunset and dawn is basically constant in this season, the switching time of street lights can be determined according to this natural law.

However, the seasons fluctuate over time. Although the controller manufacturer has launched the timing controller according to the changing law of sunrise and sunset in the local four seasons, from the winter solstice to the summer solstice, the light-on time is gradually pushed back, and the light-off time is gradually advanced. During the transition from the summer solstice to the winter solstice, the time to turn on the lights is gradually advanced, and the time to turn off the lights is gradually delayed. However, humans still cannot guarantee the weather changes every period. Dusk and dawn times are susceptible to weather fluctuations. This can lead to situations where the lights are not turned on when it is already dark, or the lights are not turned off when it is already dawn. This is still an energy waste to some extent. One of the biggest drawbacks of using a timer circuit to switch a street light system is that the on and off times vary greatly between sunny and rainy days.

Defects of daylight control only

The illuminance value of the street light position is the on/off standard for daylight control. The lights turn on and off automatically after detecting ambient lighting levels. By automatically controlling street lights, we can dramatically and precisely reduce energy use. However, infrequent lightning strikes, flashlight strikes, car strikes, and other light strikes can give the searchlight a false signal, causing inappropriate shutdown messages to be sent. In addition, if the detection device is blocked by leaves, the optical probe is momentarily blocked by leaves, and false activation can also occur.

The scientific theory of photocell

As photodetectors, photocells are semiconductors. They are light-dependent resistors, as their output is proportional to the amount of light falling on them. Due to this property, they are also called photoresistors or light-dependent resistors. Photocell converts light energy into electricity. When no light is present, they can have resistances in the millions of ohms. Conversely, when light is present, their resistance drops significantly to a few hundred ohms. This allows more current to flow within the circuit.

Three photocell adjustment modes

Photocells have three different control modes. These three modes can work individually or in any combination. The regular time control mode allows the user to freely set the on/off time; the daylight control is controlled by the light control probe according to the pre-set light intensity; the hybrid mode (both time control and daylight control) can enable two modes at the same time, daylight Control takes precedence overtime control. The most used is the versatile Advanced Hybrid Control mode, which combines daylight control and time control. Because it can choose whether to provide light according to energy-saving requirements, it can achieve the greatest energy-saving benefits.

The price of LED street light with photocell

LED street lights with a photocell may reduce energy expenditures while maintaining LED outdoor street light performance. The pricing of a photocell-equipped LED street light is shown below for your convenience. For further information on LED street light pricing.

Power of LED Street Light
LED Street Light Price without Photocell
LED Street Light Price with Photocell20W



The fundamental purpose of LED street lights with photocell

Most high-quality outdoor LED street light installations will include a factory-installed photocell that indicates when the street light is on. By sensing ambient light levels, the photocells automatically adapt to seasonal changes in the day/night cycle and do not need to be replaced seasonally like a clock controller. Even the operation of some modern photocells is programmable, allowing you to choose the best light intensity for your local environment. This can also be used to turn off different exterior lights at sunrise and turn them on again when the sun goes down. (Such as installing led garden lights, led flood lights, or led wall packs) Mastering the basic functions of led street lights with photocells and how these products can improve street lighting systems will give you a better understanding of energy savings and enable you to Create exceptional lighting solutions.

The controllability of LED street lights makes it complement the complex control devices, simultaneously reducing energy costs.

Related Products

Related Projects

You have questions, we have answers! With so many variations and uses, police lights bring with them an abundance of questions and we are here to address some of the most commonly asked ones. 

Have we answered your question? Keep reading to find out! 

What do (red, blue, white, yellow, amber) lights on a police car mean?

The purpose of colored police lights can vary, but there are some generally consistent uses. Red lights often indicate an immediate emergency. When blue lights are added, it is to alert other drivers to the presence of a police vehicle. White lights are often used at night to enhance visibility in an area. 

Yellow lights are sometimes found on some accompanying red and blue LEDs in light bars, surface mounts, dash lights, and more. Yellow lights are most often used to tell drivers to slow down and proceed with caution if there was an accident. Similarly, amber lights can also mean ‘caution.’

Each color produces different wavelengths of visible light. Yellow and amber are most visible since they settle in the middle— and strongest part— of our visible spectrum, where red and blue sit on the far edges of what we can see. This is why yellow and white lights are used alongside blues and reds to make them more visible at night and over longer distances.

What vehicles can use police lights?

The lights most commonly used by police vehicles can also be used by other first responders because light bars, beacons, and surface mounts serve diverse functions in the emergency-service industry. 

There are a few exceptions, though. For example, some states have emergency vehicle lighting laws that limit which colors and products tow truck drivers are permitted to use. Similarly, the use of lights by volunteer firefighters are restricted by laws and their own needs— in most cases, it would be impractical for a volunteer to permanently alter their vehicle with something like a light bar, so more temporary options like visor bars and dash lights are used.  

Civilian use of police lights could be considered “impersonation of an officer,” so it’s best to leave those lights to first responders and emergency service personnel! 

When can civilians use emergency vehicle lights?


The biggest issue remains that you do not want your civilian vehicle to resemble a police vehicle. Luckily, there are emergency lights that civilians can legally use! White lights are a great choice for trucks, cars, ATVs, and weather-specific vehicles like snow mobiles. These lights are legal for off-roading, but are not for on-road use by civilians. Some states limit the number of lights and output on a civilian vehicle, so do your due diligence before purchasing. 

In many states, vehicles on private land such as ATVs, farming trucks, or private security vehicles can use emergency lights as long as they are only visible on that property. Again, check your local laws to make sure you are in compliance!

What type of lights do police use?


Police use a combination of different lights based on the type of vehicle and their needs. Here are some of the most commonly used lights:

  • Light Bars

    : a staple of police vehicles, light bars provide illumination for warning signals, emergency dispatches, confirmation of roadway conditions, construction zones, etc.   

  • Visor Bars

    : these high-powered warning lights are versatile, affordable, and discreet which is why they are often used in undercover police vehicles.

  • Dash Lights

    : these powerful lights are one of the most discreet options and provide an undercover advantage. 

  • Surface Mounts

    : these lights are small but mighty. They come in a variety of sizes and can be mounted almost anywhere on a police vehicle to maximize visibility from all angles.

  • Hide-Aways

    : these compact lights can be installed inside headlights and taillights for the most discreet undercover lighting. 

  • Traffic Advisors: these lights help guide traffic at the scene of an emergency.

  • Rocker Panels

    : these lights are tucked underneath a vehicle’s sides to increase its broadside visibility. This is essential for preventing accidents as first responders speed through intersections.

How are police lights mounted?


Each light may be mounted differently, even within its own category. Light bars, for example, come with permanent mounts, adjustable foot brackets, headache mounts, and gutter mounts. Visor bars can be installed using a universal or vehicle-specific mounting bracket. Dash lights use industrial-strength suction cups which provide maximum flexibility, since the lights can be removed and reinstalled, whereas mounts and brackets offer a more permanent, long-lasting installation. Both visor bars and dash lights can be hardwired into an external controller, or plugged into a cigarette lighter socket. In addition to the headlight and taillight installation, hide-aways can be mounted to a vehicle’s exterior using a metal flange. Stick lights can be mounted with a sliding bolt. 

With installation types ranging from temporary to permanent, there is a perfect option to suit any police vehicle’s needs.

What does it mean when a police car is using lights without a siren?

The use of lights and sirens is situational, though certain states and precincts have their own standards to follow.  

Sirens are used most-often in emergency situations where: an officer needs to get to a scene urgently, is in pursuit, or needs to notify others of a hazard. If the lights are on but there is no siren, it could be that there is an ongoing crime and officers do not yet wish to alert the perpetrator of their presence. Another possibility is that, though an officer is headed to an emergency, there is no traffic on the road that needs to move out of the way. Also, if a crime scene is relatively inactive, some officers may choose to leave their lights on without a siren blaring. 

Where are the lights on unmarked police cars? 

They blend into the background among the daily commuters, but you know they’re around: undercover vehicles! The lights used in and on these vehicles have to be carefully considered so as not to give themselves away. To stay discreet, unmarked vehicles have to avoid externally mounted lights like light bars, but there are several options for these vehicles.

Visor light bars and dash lights are internally mounted and well hidden until switched on. Hide-away strobe lights are discreetly installed inside a vehicle’s headlight or taillights and will not be seen until they need to be. Stick lights are also small enough to be mounted to the vehicle’s grille or inside the vehicle and are difficult to spot when turned off. Finally, surface mounts and grille lights are compact, bright, and versatile, so they may be mounted in a variety of places like the grille, wheel well, rocker panel, window, or over a licence plate. 

How many lights can police cars have?


Police vehicles require lights in strategic locations. As mentioned above, covert vehicles require a stealthy, discreet setup. Broadside lighting helps other drivers see police vehicles when they speed through intersections. Likewise, light bars are high-impact with maximum visibility for night patrols.  

Certain lights work best for certain types of police vehicles. For example, visor light bars and dash lights are very light-weight, making them perfect for pursuit vehicles. Consider your most common tasks when outfitting your vehicle with LEDs. 

How much do police lights cost?


UBL lights start as low as $19.99! If you are looking for the best and brightest bang for your buck, our Visor Bars start at $169.99, Dash Lights start at $59.99, and full-size ilumex Light Bars start at $649.99.

More police lights:

UBL also stocks brands like Feniex and Whelen. These lights may be more expensive, but they are long-lasting and ultra-powerful!

How do I wire police lights?

Every light is installed a little differently, but the more complicated the light, the more complicated the installation. Not every light has to be wired in (see question 5 above), but those that do all come with instructions and, in many cases, professional installation is recommended. 

While it varies per light, the standard installation process requires you to connect the red (or yellow) wire (+) to 12V+ power, and the black (-) to ground on your vehicle’s battery. Here is an example instruction manual for one of our products. If you choose to proceed with installation without a professional, please be mindful of the warnings and read your instructions carefully. 

For more detailed installation instructions, check out the UBL YouTube channel! We also post tutorials, product comparisons, Q&As, and more!  

If you have any questions that were not addressed, feel free to reach out to an Ultra Bright Lightz support specialist!

Call us 1-888-562-5125


10 Key Facts You Should Know About LED Street Light with Photocell

10 Commonly Asked Questions About LED Police Lights




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