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How to Install a Photo Cell in Malibu Lights

Malibu manufactures outdoor low voltage lighting systems to illuminate walkways, gardens, pools, ponds and spas. Their kits include lighting fixtures, bulbs and transformers. The transformers come in models of 100, 200, 300, 600 and 900 watts. Only the 100 watt model comes with a photo cell. The other models come with electric timers and no option to install a photo cell. So if you want the photo cell feature, you need to install the 100 watt model.

Install the Power Pack

Malibu lights can beautify your garden or pond.

Mount the power pack to a wood wall, outdoors in daylight, where it will not be exposed to external light as this may keep it off all the time. Mount it at least 12 inches above the ground, and at least 10 feet away from any pool, pond or spa. The unit has a slot that is oversized at the bottom to fit over a screw. Drive the screw into the wood wall but leave the head extended about 1/4 inch. Lift the power pack over the screw to align the hole then let it drop into place.

Arrange your lighting fixtures in their desired locations and lay out the cable. The cable comes with the kit. Make sure your first light is at least 10 feet away from the transformer. If you have excess cable, coil it around the last light.

Attach the cables to the power pack onto the tool-less connections installed inside the power pack by the manufacturer. Slip the stripped portion of the wire under the connection and hand-tighten it. Do not use tools.

Turn the power pack on. Press the "Mode" switch once: the indicator should read "O" to show that it is on continuously.

Attach the cables to the lights one at a time. All Malibu lights come with pre-wired, tool-less connectors on short lengths of wire attached to the light itself. Clamp these connectors onto your cable. Place the connector over the cable with two sides of the connector on opposite sides of the cable. Press the connector together until it snaps into place. The connector should pierce the wire and make the connection, and the light should come on. Continue connecting all lights in your system but do not exceed 100 watts of total bulb power.

Bury the cables after all the lights are connected and working.

Set up the Photo Cell

Press the button marked "Mode" to turn the power pack on. The indicator will show "O" to indicate that it is on continuously.

Set the hours you want the lights to be on after sundown. Press the "Mode" button once more for one hour, twice for two hours, up to nine times for nine hours. The indicator will show numerals 1 through 9. Press the "Mode" button one more time to have the lights come on at sundown and off at sunrise. The indicator will show "d."

Set the light sensitivity. The "Light Level" button sets the desired light level to compensate for ambient light conditions: 0 is the most sensitive and 9 is the least. You will have to use trial and error to set the sensitivity, testing the lights each night at a different setting to have them come on at sundown or off at sunrise. Try starting with the default setting of "5."

Things You Will Need

  • Malibu ML100THBM/8100-9100-01 Model 100 Watt Power Pack
  • Wood screw
  • Screwdriver

Tips

  • Press the "Mode" and "Light Level" buttons together to restore to their default settings. The unit will turn off, the indicator will read "f" and the light level will return to the default setting of "5."
  • The power pack has a three-minute delay to keep from turning off from a bolt of lightning or a passing car's headlights.

Warnings

  • The power pack must be installed vertically and outdoors, not laying on the ground.
  • Plug the power pack into an outdoor ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet with a weatherproof cover marked "Wet Location." A GFCI outlet has two little buttons marked "Press to Test" and "Reset."
  • Do not use an extension cord to plug the power pack in.
  • If you have extra cable, do not coil it around the power pack.

About the Author

Richard Asmus was a writer and producer of television commercials in Phoenix, Arizona, and now is retired in Peru. After founding a small telecommunications engineering corporation and visiting 37 countries, Asmus studied broadcasting at Arizona State University and earned his Master of Fine Arts at Brooklyn College in New York.

Photo Credits

  • jahreswechsel image by Hans-Peter Reichartz from Fotolia.com