Skip to main content

21OAK may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to install a security light with a motion sensor in 3 easy steps

Your home is your haven, and it should be where you and your family feel the safest. Keeping your home protected with a home security system is the most comprehensive way to guard it, but if you’re not ready for that financial commitment, you can always install a motion-detecting security light outside. To answer any questions you may have, we’ll discuss the benefits of motion sensor lights and how to install them quickly so you and your family can sleep a little easier.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Benefits of a security light with a motion sensor

While they don’t come with all the bells and whistles of a complete home security system, outdoor motion sensor security lights give you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to keeping your home secure.

Improve security

Of course, the primary benefit of a security light with a motion sensor is that it deters would-be intruders. Not only would an intruder be caught off-guard by the sudden burst of light, but they are likely to retreat and move along since they don’t want to be seen.

Promote safety

Falls happen in the driveways and walkways of homes not only when the ground is wet or iced over, but also when it’s too dark to see any trip hazards. With a motion sensor light, every time you enter or exit your home, you can be confident that you’ll have a light to illuminate the way, preventing slips, trips, and falls.

Convenience

Outdoor motion sensor lights also mean you don’t have to remember to turn your outdoor lights on and off every time the sun goes down or a guest arrives. The light simply turns on when your movement is detected, with no effort on your part.

Budget-friendly

Since full home security systems can be pricey, motion sensor security lights present a more economical way to secure the home without breaking the bank.

Where to install motion sensor lights

For the motion sensor on your outdoor security light to be most effective, install it in a location with no obstructions, like trees or parked cars, that would otherwise prevent it from sensing movements in the area.  Ensure the sensor is approximately 10 feet above ground level and in such a position where any movement that occurs in the area will travel across the motion detector instead of moving directly toward or away from it. Cross movement is more easily detected by the sensor, so make sure it’s perpendicular to any walking path.

These lights are also most useful around areas that an intruder would most likely try to access. The most common entry points are your house’s doors (back and front) and your garage, so be sure to illuminate those points of entry.

FotoHelin/Shutterstock

How to install a security light with a motion sensor

What you’ll need

  • Screwdriver
  • Voltage tester
  • Wire stripper/cutter

Step 1: Shut off the power and remove the old light

The first step is the most important one for your safety. Be sure to shut off the power to the light before you start dismantling the original light so you don’t accidentally electrocute yourself. Once there is no longer power to the socket, use a screwdriver to remove the existing fixture, then use your voltage tester to test the exposed wires, ensuring the power is completely off.

Step 2: Wire the security light

Next, connect the wires of your new light to the wiring in the mount. Use wire connectors to match up and connect the three types of wires so that the new light will have power.

  • Hotwire (black)
  • Neutral wire (white)
  • Ground wire (typically green or copper)

Step 3: Mount the new light fixture

Once the wires are properly connected, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the light fixture to mount it into place. The light you purchased should include all parts and hardware needed to mount it. If not, contact the manufacturer for further instructions and to obtain the correct materials.

Now, it’s time to test the light. Walk across it, in front of it, around it, far away, and close by. Feel free to have some fun by sneaking up on it or moving around corners so you can get a feel for how and where the sensor detects movement. On many models, you can adjust the sensitivity and range of the motion sensor in case the light is turning on too often or not detecting movement well enough.

Outdoor lights on your home are essential to your safety, security, and convenience, and these security lights with motion sensors can provide you and your family with much-needed peace of mind.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
5 easy ways to spruce up your living room for spring
The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Here's how to bring that energy into your living room
Living room with warm yellow curtains

Spring is here, and we couldn't be more excited! This means temperatures starting to warm, birds chirping, flowers beginning to bloom, and spring cleaning. There are so many ways to introduce spring into your home, and — as a place where family and friends gather to watch movies, play games, and relax after a long day — the living room is the perfect place to start.

If you're thinking about updating your living room this spring, you may want to start by decluttering. It can help give you a sense of what to keep, donate, or throw away, and will help you see the space more clearly.

Read more
Keys vs. keyless: Which front door entry system is safer?
Here's what you need to know about key vs. keyless entry
Front door view

Smart technology -- particularly for the home -- continues to hit the market with a splash. We don't just have smart handheld devices anymore. We now have smart security systems, smart robot vacuums, and even smart kitchen appliances. However, when it comes to your front door security, which is safer when it comes to traditional keys vs. keyless entry smart locks?

To answer this question, the biggest factor to consider is who will be requiring access to the door. The next factor is what kind of climate and weather conditions are common in your area. Finally, the last question you need to ask yourself is: What does your budget look like for this project? We'll help you navigate the pros and cons of each access option so you can be confident in your family's safety at home.

Read more
The best garage door openers
best yellow jacket traps to the rescue garage door opener

Make your garage a practical space and your life easier with an automatic door opener. This convenient, everyday technology is a great way to save time on a daily basis and make your arrival at home more pleasant, so you can enjoy a relaxing evening after a long day at work.

Opening and shutting a garage door can be such a tedious task. Often, people prefer to park outside and end up filling their garage with random items that they don’t need. Take better care of your vehicle and make good use of your garage by installing a garage door opener. Whether you’re looking to replace your garage door opener, upgrade your current device, or get one for the first time, we’ve curated a list of our favorites to make your home more functional and keep your car spotless.

Read more