Outdoor Solar spot lights on Shabbos

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    I gather than motion-activated lights pose a problem on Shabbos. By comparison, what about solar spot lights?

    They’re stated to have “light sensors” which switch on the lights automatically at dusk.

    But if so, then even during daytime, if you cast a shadow when walking past them, their “darkness” sensor might trigger them to turn on?

    So i don’t know what the halacha is, nor can that be found online.

    meir G

    there are a lot of mekoros on sensors , shevet halevi, rjj journal, nishmas avrohom
    off hand, sensors are sensors and the key diff is if you want the effect.. as in a hospital doorway and you want to enter where we wait for a goy to go in & hop along w him. to say walking by a cvs on your way to shul where if you KNOW about it we try to avoid , but if it happens its less than a misasek , & a weak level grama , by a derabonon according to most
    in your case the sensor is on top of the light and turns on at dusk so not sure how walking by will trigger it , maybe looking over a porch railing. today most lights are led and derabonon keep that in mind when reviewing older teshuvos on light sensors


    I have a similar problem, we have an Arab neighbour who built this fancy house with motion sensor security lights at the front, we spoke to him about limiting the sensitivity to just his front drive but he didn’t do it, so on shabbos we have a problem walking past. Some ppl on some ppl on the street cross the road, but we spoke to our rov who said it’s fine to walk past, since we don’t benefit from the light and in fact don’t want it. It’s quite complicated but speak to your rav.

    With darkness sensor lights, If they are security lights then the sensor would be high up most times directly under the light or next to it, so usually the light is placed near the top of a wall so it’s to high up to catch your shadows.


    Meir G: Flipping on a LED light is d’rabbonon?


    If one is concerned about this issue, he might just as well not leave his home on Shabbat. There are cameras and sensors almost everywhere. Poskim who understand science and halachah are mattir without hesitation.


    I understand that incandescent lights have an issue of fire, while other ones – only of electricity.

    I heard from Rav Steinsaltz Z’L that Judaism is working slowly through issues, we are not always in a hurry (in response to a question “what is the meaning of Shoah”). It took some time for the Gemorah to conclude what the reason for destruction of Beit Hamikdash was, so we will understand Shoah also – after some time. Similarly, we will get a better answer on electricity “when scientists tell us more about it”. This was a couple of decades back, before LEDs.


    The train has left the station. As others have noted, there are motion activated lights, surveillance cameras everywhere. Unless you live in a totally rural area with no nearby neighbors, you are 99 percent certain to trigger one or more of these motion detectors when you walk down the street. Most rabbonim/poskim recognize this reality and have not prohibited one from leaving their home on shabbos for fear of mechalel shabbos


    GH: The train has left the station.

    This was wrong. I think trains are still not allowed on Shabbat, even as they do not use coal any more.

    Reb Eliezer

    He is doing his normal walk and by doing a heter action an issur occurs, he is a misasek provided tbat he does not know there is a light there. This is similar as closing the door to protect the house and a deer is caught unintentionally.

    meir G

    ujm- bekitzur, yes flipping on a led light is a drabonon according to rov poskim – ( the term drabonon is equally asur) , all original poskim agreed that turning on electricity was/is asur the question was under which melacha category it fell into . specifically incandescent bulbs had a filament that glowed red hot . the chazon ish had a unique approach & always considered opening & closing a circuit to be boneh deoraysa . then came rav shlomo zalmen zatl & studied the practical aspects in depth and differentiated between appliances that had a heat element ( deoraysa) to things like an fridge or a fan ( drabonon ) many poskim have followed this mehalech. at least as far as using a goy considering it a shvus deshvus, much more on the topic ….


    I think i should rephrase my Q a different way.

    Do any of you have Solar lights along your driveways, walkways, etc., and if so, did your posek say that during Shabbos (daytime) it’s OK to walk past them, even if your shadow might be interpreted as “night-time” thus triggering them to turn on?

    I’m not speaking of the neighborhood with all its camera’s and so forth. Rather, your own dwelling, where you yourself derive benefit from the lights.

    meir G

    YWNJUDY- ok now the shaaloh is clearer ,
    if its on your own property & it always happens when u walk by , no one that i know is matir that lechatchila , meaning setting your walkway up like that thereby causing lights to go on & off when you walk by would not be permitted


    Well, i’ve passed frum houses with solar light setups. So how do people work that out for Shabbos? By the way, don’t think this is a frivolous question. I need lighting. Not intended for “beauty”.

    What i’d like most, is something online on this topic. Many times i’ve been frustrated at how little practical info is readily available online, so people can help themselves, no matter whether kashrus, or whatever. I really don’t feel comfortable calling rav’s or halacha hotlines. Been down that road plenty with these types of Qs, and suffice at that.

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