FAQ Operation

My FakeTV won’t turn on with the light sensor and internal timer.  

This is by far our most common support question.
FakeTV will not turn on until it has been almost pitch-black in the room for about ten seconds.  This is because FakeTV is not effective until it is dark outside, making it almost pitch black in the room with the FakeTV.  If you try to test the FakeTV timer during the day by shutting the blinds, FakeTV will likely not turn on.  You can use a dark, windowless room such as a closet to test FakeTV, or simply wait until nightfall.

The FakeTV light sensor and timer works almost perfectly in practice; the only issue is testing.  Like every other feature of FakeTV, it is tested before it leaves the factory.  Several people have sent their units back, insisting it really, really was dark in the room when they tested it.  We try to be good sports about that sort of thing.  Every one of the returns turns on when the room gets truly dark.

So, why did we make it so it will not turn on until it is really dark?  Because it turns on at the right time that way. 

A room with the curtains shut can get quite dim well before dusk.  If FakeTV turned on in a dim room, in some situations FakeTV would turn on several hours before it was dark outside.  The four or seven hour time cycle might be over way too soon.  As designed, the FakeTV timer comes on and turns off at the right times.

My FakeTV does not turn off when I have it set to Dusk +4 or Dusk +7.

Your FakeTV is almost certainly working just fine, and it is likely off in the middle of the night while you are sleeping.  But your FakeTV is on in the morning, so what is happening?

FakeTV turns on and starts the timer cycle as soon as it gets dark. If it gets light and then dark again (say you enter the room and turn on the lights), the timer cycle starts over.  Once it gets dark enough in the evening to turn on FakeTV, it usually only gets darker, and FakeTV stays on and completes the cycle.  But, it is very common for FakeTV to come on in the early morning.  Light levels fluctuate in the morning as it is just getting light.  At sunrise, it will often become light enough and then dark enough to trigger the FakeTV timer cycle.  It will then look like someone must be watching television in the morning, as many people do.

We find that the light sensing thresholds give really good results in practice.  We use FakeTV’s ourselves, of course!  If you want the FakeTV to come on at times other than those provided by the light sensor, please turn FakeTV to "ON" and plug it into an appropriate timer.

How long will FakeTV last? What kind of bulbs does it have? Can they easily be changed?

The FakeTV uses LED’s that will last for a long time. If you turn your FakeTV on every night, the LED’s will last for 20 years, and much longer if used less frequently. The LED’s in the FakeTV cannot be changed.

Can I leave my FakeTV in the ON position all the time?

Yes.  FakeTV is designed for continuous duty.  The super-bright, very efficient LEDs in the FakeTV will last for many years.  FakeTV does not run hot and it poses no fire hazard.

What if I want my FakeTV on at different times?

You can easily plug the FakeTV into an lamp timer, set it accordingly and put the FakeTV switch to the ON position. 

I travel in my RV and want to make it look like it is occupied when I’m away from it. Can I power FakeTV from the 12V battery?

You may power FakeTV from a vehicle 12V source, such as your RV or boat, or other suitable source. 

You will need a female power plug that is:

  • OD = 5.5 mm / ID = 2.1 mm (This is the most common power-supply style there is, so the odds of finding it are good.)
  • Right angle is preferred
  • Center positive
  • You can get such a plug from www.jameco.com, part number 138587. Note that this is just the plug– not a cigarette lighter adapter. You will need to wire to it.

FakeTV draws an average current of about 150 mA when the LEDs are running, and next to nothing when they are not.

My FakeTV flickers more than my real television.  (Or, my real television flickers more than my FakeTV.)

Like real television, FakeTV will sometimes produce very vibrant colors and dynamic flickery scenes, and other times may produce long periods of time with relatively static content.   So, if you watch the light real TV and FakeTV side by side, it is very unlikely that they will both be doing the same thing at the same time.  But if you watch them one after the other, you will likely be hard pressed to tell which is which.

Should I use a separate timer so my FakeTV is on for just the time I typically watch TV?

We would recommend you use the built-in timer, and make it look like someone are watching TV all evening, every evening.  We suggest you do this even if you rarely watch television, because it increases the chance that your home looks occupied at the crucial moment that burglars might be looking for that next target.

Most burglars are opportunist, and it is rare indeed that a burglar would put the sort of effort it would require to get to know your patterns so as to detect your absence.  If they were willing to work that hard, they wouldn’t be burglars.  But even if they did, they would have no way of knowing that it’s FakeTV, and not a decision on your part to catch some new mini-series marathon.

Will FakeTV prevent a "home invasion-style" burglary ?
(Short answer: NO! Keep your doors locked.)

A "Home Invasion" means that one or more criminals break into a home thinking that it is  occupied.  These criminals are often armed, and often intent on perpetrating violence against the occupants of the home.  Because FakeTV can only provide the illusion of occupancy, an invader intent on breaking into an occupied home will not be deterred by FakeTV or any other occupancy simulation measures.

Home Invasions are far less common than simple burglaries.  But, they have far more potential for violence, and so you should take this precaution against them:  Have good strong locks on all the doors, and use them, even when you are home.  Most home invaders break in through the front door by kicking the door in.  Make that hard to do.  Buy yourself some time to call 911.

A FakeTV can help prevent an accidental home invasion.  That is, it may prevent a burglar from breaking into an occupied house that he thinks is not occupied.  That scenario is especially dangerous, because the burglar is not expecting it and can act unpredictably.  Many people have reported to us that they use their FakeTV every evening to make it more obvious that someone is home, or to provide the illusion that they are not home alone.