How To Add A Motion Sensor To Existing Outdoor Lights
When you purchased your home, you may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to pick out just the right outdoor light fixtures. Perhaps you even found yourself battling an inner conflict: function or beauty? If you purchased lights that dont have an attached motion sensor, dont fret. It is possible to add motion to existing outdoor lights. Doing so is simple, in fact, you can even add motion detection without performing one ounce of wiring.
How Many Security Lights Do You Need
Theres no magic number. The best way to figure out how many security lights you need is to determine which areas around your house you want to light. For maximum effectiveness, position a motion sensor light to cover the walks leading to your front and back doors and the driveway. That way the lights will come on when you come home at night. You can also use them to light up decks, patios and potentially hazardous locations such as around stairways and swimming pools.
If improved security is a priority, position the motion sensor lights to cover all the approaches to your house, including fence gates, the patio door, the darker areas of your yard, and around trees and bushes. Good lighting cant guarantee security, of course, but its one of the best low-cost ways to discourage intruders.
Why Trust The Spruce
This article was written by Jeremy Laukkonen, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. Hes had experience installing and using motion sensor lights around his own homes and business for over 20 years. In addition to The Spruce, his reviews can be found in other outlets, including Lifewire and DigitalTrends.
Relying on firsthand experience, tests performed by The Spruce, and research, Jeremy considered ease of use and installation, brightness, detection range and angle, and several other factors to identify the best outdoor motion sensor lights. To gain a better understanding of what to look for in outdoor motion sensor lights, Jeremy also spoke with Edward Jones, a home lighting expert and founder of HomeCareHow. Using those expert insights into the best brightness for different applications and different use cases for outdoor motion-sensing lights, he was able to identify the best general use lights and great options for specific areas like pathways and stairs.
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Replacing An Existing Light
If youre replacing an existing light bulb, thats incredibly easy. It will look something like the following:
If youre replacing an existing hardwired or mounted light fixture, that will be a little trickier. Again, the manufacturer should provide instructions.
If you have to tap into your homes wires and dont have previous electrical experience, we strongly recommend seeking professional assistance.
Baxia Technology Solar Motion Sensor Lights: Best Path Lights
Baxias motion sensor lights are an ideal option for path lights because they come in a two-pack. This allows you to line a path or steps at regular intervals for full lighting coverage. While you can also mount them higher up on a wall, we think these lights are perfect for paths.
While you can’t reposition the lights like on our top two picks, the top-mounted solar panels make for reliable nighttime lighting without fussy wiring. The integrated passive infrared sensor spots heat sources like a warm body, so these lights won’t trigger when falling leaves drift past them.
We like that these lights are so affordable, about $13 apiece , though you need to buy four at a time since they don’t come in smaller packs. They also have some of the best weatherproof ratings of any light on our list. These lights are water resistant and can withstand both extreme cold and extreme heat. Best of all, they come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Best Design: Euri Lighting Efl
Attractive oil-rubbed bronze lantern design
Switches from flickering flame to security light
Dusk-to-dawn motion sensor
Bottom open to the elements
The Euri Lighting EFL-130W-MD is in a completely different class from other security lights in terms of design. This security light takes the form of a flickering flame lantern, complete with an oil-rubbed bronze finish and your choice of frosted or water glass panels. It doesnt look anything like other security lights, but it does get the job done. The drawback to the attractive design is that the bottom isnt enclosed, though this lantern is wet-rated and safe for outdoor use. It also comes with an estimated 50,000-hour lifespan.
When the sun goes down, the lantern glows with a warm, flickering firelight effect reminiscent of a gas lamp. This dusk-to-dawn light activates when the sun goes down and stays on all night. When the sensor detects motion, it activates the main 1,200-lumen LED light and bathes the area in bright, white light.
Price at time of publish:$69
Dimensions: 8.07 x 9.44 x 14.56 inches | Range: Not provided | Detection Angle: Not listed | Wattage: 12.5 watts | Power Source: AC
Recap: How To Choose A Motion Sensor Light
Now that you know the facts about motion sensors, you might be interested in buying one. Lets quickly walk through the process youll need to follow.
Look at your circumstances and decide if you could use a motion-sensitive light for safety or convenience.
Choose a light: Look at location, bulb type, light pattern, and power source to choose the best possible light.
Install your light: Follow the manufacturers instructions to securely install your new light.
Connect the light to your smart home: This doesnt apply to most motion detector lights, which sadly lack home automation. If your light has a separate motion sensor, its more likely to connect to the broader smart home.
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Where Should You Install Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights
Outdoor motion sensor lights can be installed anywhere you want light, but there are a few key places to consider installing them if you want to increase security around your home.
To deter potential intruders, motion sensor lights should be positioned near specific entry points, such as porches, back doors, and driveways, Klosterman says.
To increase safety at night , also consider installing motion sensor lights beside pathways and on stairs.
Best Budget: Hmcity Outdoor 120 Led Solar Lights
Stays on as long as motion is detected
Switch is difficult to access
Needs a lot of direct sunlight
If youre trying to set up motion sensor lights around your home on a tight budget, the HMCITY Outdoor 120 LED Solar Light is the best option. These lights are battery- and solar-powered, so you dont need to pay for an electrician, and theyre also really easy to install. They arent the brightest lights on the market, but theyre affordable enough that you can put them exactly where you need light outside your home. These solar lights work best in areas where the solar panel will see a lot of sunlight throughout the day.
These HMCITY lights can sense motion within 26 feet, and they have a wide sensor range of 120 degrees. You cant aim the sensor or lights after installation, but you can choose from three different lighting modes. You can set the light to come on for 15 seconds when it detects motion, stay on all night, or remain dimly lit all night and grow brighter when the sensor detects activity.
Price at time of publish:$22
Dimensions: Not listed | Range: 26 feet | Detection Angle: 120 degrees | Wattage: 4.5 watts | Power Source: Battery, solar
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Features To Look For In Your Choice Of A Motion Sensor Porch Light
When choosing motion sensor porch lights, consider several things, including style, ease of installation, features, and durability. It is paramount to consider the following in your search:
The first decision youll make is whether you want to go with a traditional or LED light bulb. Traditional light bulbs use more energy, so they wont last as long or as efficiently as LEDs.
The light must pair with an equally bright light bulb that gives them enough bright light so that it can illuminate everything.
Motion Sensor Type
Motion sensors are generally passive infrared or dual technology sensors. PIR sensors detect temperature changes, while dual technology sensors detect both temperature and movement. Dual tech sensors tend to be more reliable since they respond to heat and movement.
A motion sensor porch light is a home security device that consists of a bulb and a sensor. The sensor detects movement within a specific range and turns the light on, which will shine brightly onto the movement area. These lights are helpful in areas with no light at night and are more energy-efficient than leaving a porch light on all night.
Do Motion Sensor Lights Deter Burglars
Motion lights deter nighttime burglars for these reasons:
- Burglars wont have the cover of darkness to approach the house.
- Sometimes its hard to tell if someone turned on the light manually.
- If anyone inside the home also saw the light come on, there’s a good chance theyll look for suspicious activity.
- The motion light might set off a secondary, furry alarm that wakes up the family with barking.
Still, if a burglar knows the house is empty and that neighbors dont have a good view, they might take the risk anyway, or they might come back during the day when the lights dont affect your security. This is why its important to use other security measures like locks, security systems, and floodlight cameras to fortify your home against intruders.
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The 6 Best Outdoor Motion
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
Whether youre looking for added security at home or easier navigation at night, motion-sensor lights can provide a boost of visibility whenever you need it. The best outdoor motion-sensor lights have a detection range of 20 to 75 feet, and come in a range of styles, from floodlights to design-savvy lanterns. Plus, you can choose the power source that works best for you, whether thats hardwired, battery-operated, or solar.
Can You Install Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights Yourself
In many cases, you can install outdoor motion sensor lights yourself. Solar-powered and battery-powered units are the best outdoor motion sensor lights to install yourself because you dont need to hook them up to electricity. Some hardwired lights are also possible to install yourself, though its possible youll need an electrician.
In most cases, its as simple as replacing an old lighting fixture with a new one, Klostermann says. However, if you need to run a new electrical line and install a switch, the job may be better suited for a home pro.
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Why Have An Outdoor Motion Sensor
There are several benefits to motion activated outdoor light fixtures. First, outdoor lights with built-in or added motion sensors can make your life easier. If youve ever struggled in the dark to find the right key, all while balancing an arm full of groceries, and perhaps even a crying baby. Coming home to a dark front porch is troublesome, especially if you live on a street without street lights.
A more important benefit of a motion activated light is home security. Ackerman Security notes that cameras and other types of surveillance equipment are the chief deterrents for burglars, with a visible security sign also making their top 10 list.1 US News and World Report also explains that motion sensors are a key factor in warding off potential unwanted guests.2 If you have an outdoor camera installed, great! But if it lacks night vision, its doing you little good in the dark. And your security system yard sign is doing little good while sitting in the dark next to the bushes. A motion activated light can act as a burglar deterrent on its own, but it can also support outdoor cameras and even shed light on your security sign.
You could, of course, simply leave your outdoor lights on when youre not home, but that costs money . Not to mention you would contribute to the problematic issue of light pollution that prevents so many city and suburb dwellers from actually seeing the stars at night.4
Best Led: Lepower 35w Led Security Light Motion Sensor
No dusk-to-dawn mode
No always-on option
The LEPOWER 35W LED Security Light Motion Sensor is exceptionally bright, has a great sensor range and detection angle, and is ready to stand up to the elements with a solid IP65 weatherproof rating. It also pumps out 3,500 lumens from three huge LED panels, two of which are adjustable, so we recommend it as the best LED motion sensor light.
This light has a massive 72-foot sensor range directly in front of the sensor. That falls off to the sides, but you can aim the sensor to create an optimal detection area. If you don’t need that wide a range, the sensitivity is adjustable. The LEPOWER also has three huge LED panels that can remain on for up to 10 minutes after activation. The only catch is that it doesn’t have a dusk-to-dawn or always-on mode, so it works better as a security light than a floodlight.
Price at time of publish:$60
Dimensions: 14 x 8.3 x 5.2 inches | Range: 72 feet | Detection Angle: 180 degrees | Wattage: 35 watts | Power Source: AC
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How Do You Get Home Automation Support For Your Motion Sensor Lights
It was tough for us to find motion-detector lights that directly work with any smart home assistants or protocols. The lights with the most automation were non-motion smart lights that can connect to an additional motion sensor.
How Do Motion Sensors Work
Motion sensors are an essential part of a home security system. For example, while door and window sensors alert the homeowner to someone entering the house, outdoor light motion sensors will alert them to someone prowling outside the home. Even though there are various motion sensors, most rely on the same technology to detect movement by picking up on specific cues, such as vibration, temperature, or radiation.
The motion-sensing feature in outdoor lights is a passive system that can detect infrared energy. These sensors are known as Passive Infrared Detectors or pyroelectric sensors. This type of motion sensor is sensitive to body temperature.
You may have noticed that some lights are sensitive to motion, but not to an individual who’s standing still. The reason for this is that the sensors are actively looking for a rapid change in the level of infrared energy it’s seeing. Therefore, when a person walks by, the infrared energy in that particular field of view changes and is easily detected. Likewise, motion sensors should be able to detect changes rapidly.
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The 8 Best Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights Of 2022
Our favorite is the LEONITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light
We independently research, test, review, and recommend the bestproductslearn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
The Spruce / Chloe Jeong
Outdoor security lights with motion sensing can help keep your home safe from intruders, and they also provide light exactly where you need it, when you need it, during the darkest hours of the night.
The main purpose of motion sensor lights is to protect your home, which is why you should mount security sensors near points of entry, says Edward Jones, a home lighting expert and founder of HomeCareHow. You should also equip any high traffic area with motion sensors. This will not only protect your home from intruders, but also prevent slip and fall accidents.
We researched and tested lighting options for ease of use and installation, brightness, and detection range and angle to find the best models for various scenarios. Our favorite, the LEONITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light, is exceptionally easy to install and set up and lets you adjust the sensors, lights, detection range, and the amount of time the light stays on.
Here are the best outdoor motion sensor lights.
The Best Decorative Motion
- Motion detection range: 40 feet
- Power: hardwired
If you want your motion-sensor lights to have a more decorative look than traditional models, this set of two industrial farmhouse-style lanterns is a nice alternative. The integrated dusk to dawn lighting mode keeps the lanterns lit at 25% brightness when dusk falls, and turns them up to 100% brightness when motion is detected within 40 feet. At dawn, the lights sensors deactivate to conserve power. If you want full illumination on a temporary basis, the manual override setting keeps the lights on for eight hours, then automatically turns them off at dawn. The housing is weather- and rust-resistant, and the seeded glass offers a unique design upgrade. Due to the variable brightness options, only dimmable incandescent light bulbs should be used with these lanterns to prevent flickering.
Helpful review: These lights are awesome! I ordered 2 for my front porch, liked them so much I ordered 2 more for the back of the house. Even the electrician commented about how nice they were. Lights stay low until motion is detected & then they become very bright. Very sensitive to motion. The bulbs are replaced from the bottom so no more climbing up a ladder to take the top off to change the bulb. Very nicely constructed. Lights up the yard quite far from the house.
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