How to Install Motion Sensor Lights – Extensive Answer

Motion sensor lights are designed to make life easier for everyone. Perhaps, you may know how difficult and frightening it can be when searching for your keys at night or walking alone in a dark sidewalk. More importantly, motion sensor lights provide home security to prevent burglars from gaining unauthorized access into your property.

Photo by Rob Sarmiento on Unsplash

In this article, you will be furnished with everything you need to know about the installation of motion sensor lights. That said, the reason why motion sensor lights are preferred to traditional security cameras is that they offer surveillance in the dark. So instead of installing security cameras that will be quite useless in the dark – except for the ones with night vision technology, go for motion sensor lights.

Where Can You Install Motion Sensor Lights?

For better lighting, install a motion sensor light in a way that it covers the sidewalks front and back entrance of a building. Consider placing it to cover your driveway so that when you get home when it’s dark, the light will automatically switch on.

Motion sensor lights can be installed to illuminate stairways, patios, decks, and poorly lit areas around your house.

For enhanced security, install motion sensor lights at all entry points of a property, including patio doors, fences, gates, trees, and any secluded area.

Also, you should know that adequate lighting is not enough to protect you, so motion sensor lights offer more than that. An intruder will have to be really motivated to gain unauthorized access into your property when he sees a motion sensor light. Because there’s no way, he can get into your building without being detected in time.

As a rule of thumb, you should always install your motion sensor lights at least 6 feet from the ground. Also, try to position the sensor light in such a way that movements are tracked even before they get into the sensitivity zone.

You can purchase and install remote motion sensors and bulbs separately, so that intruders will be a bit confused at the setup. The best part is that the cables that join the lights and sensors are not harmful, so there’s no need to hide them in a plastic or metal case.

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How Do You Install a Motion Sensor Light?

To install a motion sensor light, do the following:

i. Turn off the electricity of the building

ii. Mount a large box

iii. Connect the cables

iv. Position the fixture

v. position the motion sensor light

vi. Set the coverage range

Turn off the Electricity of the Building

The first thing to do when installing a motion sensor light is to put off the power source of the fixture. After that, confirm if the current is still flowing or not. To do this, scrape a lead of your voltage tester on the ground cable. Then rub your other lead voltage tester on the black cable. If the voltage tester shows any light, then know that current is still flowing, so put off the circuit from the main control panel.

Mount a Large Box

Once you have put off the power, you can then fix a bigger electrical box if the one you are using is not big enough. The size of these electrical boxes is boldly inscribed on them for easy identification.

Connect the Cables

When connecting the cables, ensure that you follow to the letter the instructions given by the manufacturer. You have to feed the cables through a plastic gasket and then join the wire connectors to the hot wire, ground wires and neutral wires. These wires are depicted as black, green, and white, respectively.

Position the Fixture

The next thing in the installation process is to position the fixture in the right place. In doing this, ensure that the plastic gasket closes all corners of the box to prevent air from entering into it. Perhaps, you may need to add a little amount of silicone caulk to the edges if you deem it necessary.

Position the Motion Sensor Light

Position your motion sensor and light bulb in such a way that it covers the areas you need it to. That said, you can always go back to adjust their positions in the event of nuisance trips. In addition, try to give a considerable distance between the light bulb and the motion sensor.

Set the Coverage Range

How to Set the Coverage Range of a Motion Sensor Light?

Once the light bulbs and motion detectors are in place, the coverage range of the detector can be set. It is also adjustable at any point in time if nuisance trips become an issue. Ensure that you set the lighting timer, depending on your preference.

It can be set to either 1, 10, 15, or 20 minutes intervals. If you want to reduce your field of view, you can conceal a section of the light detector lens using a tape. This need may arise when the side-to-side view of sensors allow can no longer be adjusted.

Video: How to Make Motion Sensor Lights by Yourself

If you want to learn how to make a motion sensor light by yourself, check out this video…

How to Set Up a Home-made Motion Sensor Light Switch

To set up a home-made motion sensor light switch, do the following:

i. Disconnect the power source of the building

ii. Test run the cables

iii. Cut the cables

iv. Strip the black and white cable

v. Connect the cables to a new switch

vi. Fold the cables into the box

vii. Personalize the controls

Disconnect the Power Source of the Building

The first thing to do when installing a motion sensor switch is to disconnect the power supply from the circuit breaker. In addition, you may need to put up a warning sign such as “DO NOT TOUCH!” on the box of the circuit breaker so that no one will ignorantly connect the circuit during the installation process.

Test Run the Cables

The next step in the installation process is to take down the old switch and test its cables with a circuit tester like the audible-alarm circuit tester that’s very common. You are doing this so that you will be totally sure there’s no current flowing through the cables.

Meanwhile, if you hear an intermittent beep, it means that the current is flowing through the cables. So ensure you put it off. Once that is done, unscrew the existing switch in position.

Cut the Cables

You have to look for the three cables in the old switch. They are designated by black, white, and green colors. When you open the old switch, you will notice that the green wire is not connected, while the white and black cables are joined to the motion sensor light. You have to cut all these cables.

Strip the White and Black Cables

Once you take away the existing switch, then the next thing to do is to peel off the insulation from the white and black cables with the help of a wire stripper.

Connect the Cables to a New Switch

After stripping the cables, you can then connect them to the new switch. Twist the ends of the white cable around the installations on the switch and secure them in place with paper tape. Note that you won’t notice any difference in the particular cable that is connected to the switch. So the installation process is quite simple. If you get stuck, you can go to the user’s guide made available by the manufacturer.

Fold the Cables Into the Box

At this stage, you are almost through. What you have to do now is to fold the cables into the switch box and them in place using a mounting screw. That’s all.

Personalize the Controls

This is the final stage of the motion sensor light switch installation process. Some persons may not find this aspect necessary, but if you do, then here’s what to do. First of all, identify the controls for modifying the time and sensitivity of the motion sensor light.

When someone comes in the field-of-view of the motion sensors, you can set the lighting timer to whatever interval you want. You can also adjust the intensity of the light when someone comes within its field-of-view. Once you do that, you only need to fix the wall-plate, and you are good to go.

A motion sensor light is like a small electronic eye that tracks infrared or heat waves from the radiation of bodies in motion. When the sensor notices that a body is within its viewing range, it automatically lights up to stop the body in its tracks.

The light from the motion sensors stays put for at most 20 minutes based on the preset time. The sensor that triggers the light to come on is the same sensor that triggers it to go off when its preset time has elapsed. However, note that if it still senses any form of movement, it won’t go off.

It is essential to state that motion sensor lights do not work during the day. This is because a photocell that is attached to the sensor deactivates the motion sensor when it detects sunlight. Furthermore, motion sensor lights have a viewing angle of about 240 degrees, as well as a modifiable distance coverage of a maximum of 70 feet.

Meanwhile, apart from human movement, motion sensor lights can also detect motion from animals and objects like cars, bikes, and even leaves. So it safe to say that nothing gets into your property without being caught.

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Final Words

Motion sensor lights are better than the traditional security cameras that lack night vision technology. They not only help to illuminate your building but also to beef up the security.

Installing motion sensor lights is not all that difficult. You just have to get the necessary tools and follow the laid down instructions given by the manufacturer.


How to Install Motion Sensor Lights – Related FAQs


Are Motion Sensor Lights Easy to Install?

Motion sensor lights are not all that difficult to install. However, the installation process slightly differs from brand to brand. The manufacturer of a motion sensor light always clearly spell out the installation steps, so just about anyone can get the job done.

But then, if a user does not have the technical know-how of how to install a motion sensor light, it is recommended that he gets a handyman for the task. Even though some motion sensor lights can be installed by children, it is best to always leave the job for adults.


How Long Does a Motion Light Stay On?

Most motion sensor lights stay on for 15 to 20 minutes after it detects movement around its coverage area. But then, high-end motion sensor lights extend their staying time once they notice fresh movement. Users have the luxury of deciding how long their lights will last if they customize it to fit their needs.

While motion sensor lights can stay put for over 20 minutes, it is not necessary to leave them for that long. They can be modified to stay on for just 5 minutes to make them last longer and reduce electricity consumption.


How Do You Stop Bugs from Triggering Motion Sensor Cameras?

To prevent bugs from setting off a motion sensor camera, apply a bug spray on the body of the device. This way, bugs will always distance themselves from the camera. When spraying a motion sensor camera, it is that the lens is not sprayed. An good way of ensuring that is by covering the lens of the motion sensor camera with a towel when spraying.

Another way of stopping bugging from triggering a motion sensor camera is by installing it near a fan.


Can a Spider Set Off a Motion Detector?

A spider can set off a motion detector by walking into its coverage area. Insects have a strong attraction to infrared light and that is the light most motion detectors come with. Even though lowering the sensitivity of the motion detector can reduce the trigger frequency, it does not stop it from setting off when the insects are very close.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by going for motion detectors that are equipped with insect guards. This feature will make the presence of an insect of no effect to the motion detector.


Do Motion Sensors Work in the Dark?

Motion sensors are designed to work in the dark. They don’t depend on images to detect movements. Rather, motion sensors rely on the difference in infrared levels to detect movements. This difference is seen as a disturbance which they must immediately react to and they do so by triggering a light or an alarm.

Whether a user installs a PIR, microwave, ultrasonic, or heat motion sensor, it will detect motion in the dark as long as it is working properly.


Can Pets Trigger Motion Sensor Lights?

Pets can trigger motion sensor lights. But then, it is dependent on whether the motion sensor has the level of sensitivity that can make pets activate it. If a motion sensor light can be set off by pets, reduce the sensitivity by adjusting the settings. This way, pets and insects will not be able to activate it.

Pets can alter the infrared energy of a motion sensor light and then set it off. The motion sensor will think the pet is an intruder and then give false alarms.