How to Make the Lights and Power Go Out When Your Strobe Lightning Flashes on Halloween Night

Halloween Decorations and Halloween tricks have remained fairly stagnant over the years. I strive to load my Halloween treat bag with original, exciting treats. I will not be covering any baked goods with orange frosting, and there’s no point in discussing pumpkins. Sure, we all do this stuff, but let’s get a little more “cutting edge!”

Categories: Visual Effect. Cool. Clever. Technical based effect.

Skill level: Simple.

Time required: 5 to 15 minutes.

Cost: $15.00 to $20.00

“Power Interrupt”

Use your strobe lights more like lightning striking and less like a disco dance party light show by controlling them with a “winker” (or flasher) to light them up intermittently (because lightning is typically not always flashing).

Also, when the lightning strikes, have the “house” lights go out! Aside from this happening occasionally in reality (and always in scary movies) it adds more “light power” to the strobes because they are not washed out with ambient lighting. In fact, it will take you far longer to get the parts, organize everything, and read this than it will to build this Halloween Effect.

The simple idea: We will use a photo cell switch to “cut the power” when the strobes are engaged. You’ve seen these photocell switches before. They’re typically built into light sockets for outdoor lamps. When the sun comes up, off go the lights. The only difference here is you want a photocell (search Amazon for “plug-in Lamp Photocell”) that has an outlet rather than a light socket built into it.

Of course you’ll want to have Thunderstorm sound effects playing during all of this. Since the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound, when you see lightning in real-life, the thunder follows afterwards. Ironically and thankfully, the random soundtrack that is not-in-sync-with the random lightning will be all-the-more life-like and convincing!

Here are the ingredients:

2 extension cords

PIN FLASHER or “winker”

Photocell switch

Night-Light (one with a small C7 “nightlight” bulb)

You’ll also need:

strobe lights


A “project box” to house this in—like a shoebox, food box, cardboard coffee can.

Clearly, you will also need some sort of other lights for the ambient lighting (the lighting that will “go out” with the power!)

Extension cord “A” will be your power source. You will plug this into the wall when you are finished.

1) Take the photo-cell switch and plug it into extension cord “A”.

2) Plug the PIN FLASHER or “winker” into another outlet in extension cord “A”.

3) Take the other extension cord, “B” and plug it into the PIN FLASHER.

4) Plug the C7 night-light into extension cord “B”.

5) Plug your strobe lights into another outlet in extension cord “B.”

6) Plug your ambient lights (window lights, outdoor lamps) into the outlet on the photocell switch. (300 watt max!)

The nightlight will be the light that triggers the Photocell to shut off. The enclosure will house this project so that outside light will not affect the operation.

7) Place the cords and devices into an opaque (no light can get in or out) enclosure. A shoe box or other small box is ideal. If you use one of those small plastic storage boxes (readily found at every store) then make sure it is opaque. If not, spray paint the outside of it.

8) Adjust the location of the nightlight with respect to the photocell sensor so that when the nightlight is dim or off (and strobe lights are now off) the nightlight does not provide enough light to switch the photocell off. When the nightlight is bright (and strobes are on) the photosensor should switch off.

9) Use the adhesive tape to tack down the location of the nightlight and the photocell socket so that the device works when you re-locate it to your party or outside decorated location.

That’s all folks! Make certain you add this to your bag of Halloween Tricks. So few people do this “extra” effect, that you will stand out in the Halloween crowd!

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