Motion Sensor Light Buyer’s Guide - 2017

A motion sensor light is a great first line of defence in your security system. They draw attention to any intruders who are lurking around your property by shining a bright light on them when the sensor detects motion. Once someone realizes they are no longer incognito, they are more likely to run away.

motion sensor light

Considerations Before Buying a Motion Sensor Light

There are multiple motion activated lights on the market, making it difficult to know which one is best for you. Here, we go into detail about everything you should consider before making your decision.

What are motion sensor lights and how do they work?

Like motion cameras or alarms, a motion sensor light turns on when something passes through its sensing range. This range varies based on what model you purchase and how sensitive you make the settings. Motion sensors are passive and detect infrared energy (heat) as it travels past the sensing range. This energy movement signals to electrons and is then amplified into a signal (the light turning on). The light stays on for the length of time you preset the timer too and will only shut off once it stops detecting motion. The average light has a field of view that is about 240 degrees and light range of about 70 feet.

For added convenience, some motion sensor lights allow to also use them as a traditional flip switch light. This allows you to keep the light on for extended periods of time when you need the extra illumination.

The sensor easily picks up people, animals, and cars because they give off a good amount of infrared energy. Have you noticed that when you stand still near your light that it will eventually shut off? This is because motion lights are sensitive to the amount of energy moving around it. A person walking gives off significantly more heat than a person standing still.

In some cases, people argue that motion activated lights are too sensitive to movement that does not warrant the need for the light. This can be easily fixed by turning down the distance range and limiting the view that sensor can reach. Purchasing a light that allows you to change the time it stays on as well as the distance the light shines is very important.

How much does one cost?

They are usally very affordable and the price usually depends on the features or the decorative style.

  • Low - $20
  • Medium - $70
  • High - $150

How many do you need

When trying to figure out how many motion activated lights you need, you need to consider the size of the area you trying to illuminate. If you want the light to shine on your entire yard, you may need to purchase more than one motion sensor light. This allows you to place one light outside a door and then another along the side of your home. If you are only trying to illuminate your driveway or a patio area, one light should be enough. Another factor to take into consideration is the distance the light is able to reach. You may be able to save money by purchasing a model with a bigger reach over buying two lights.

Where to place one

The placement of a light is important for both safety convenience. When looking at the safety aspect, you should consider placing them on fences, gates, doors, and especially dark areas of your yard. These are all areas where a potential burglar would hide or try to gain access to your home. In order to give you peace of mind while moving around your property, the best spots include around patios, swimming pools, staircases, and the driveway.

You also need to consider the height of where you are placing your light. Usually about 6 to 10 feet up is ideal so that movement is detected by the sensitivity zone, not directly by the detector.


Depending on what model you purchase, you may be able to simply attach the light over an existing light fixture, with little to know wiring. However, some models do require you to hardwire them into electrical system. In this case, it may be best to call a professional electrician so that all proper safety procedures are followed.

Step-by-step Installation

A professional will typically only install your doorbell camera if you purchase a security package through a company. Luckily, DIY installation is a quick and simple process. If your the one you choose requires that you have an existing doorbell you will need to do some wiring, but this is also an easy process. There are step by step guide books as well as how to videos that will give you all the tips on the installation process.

A motion sensor light is fairly easy to install and the entire process only takes about 30-45 minutes. Be sure to always read the instructions that come with the light you purchase. If you have to run new electrical wiring or are unsure about the process, it is best to call a professional electrician. The instructions we list below are a basic guide for installing motion lights that go over an existing fixture.

  1. Turn off the power switch in the main panel that goes to wire you are trying to connect. Then use a voltage tester to double check that the power is off. Do this by touching one end of the tester to the black wire and the other end to the white wire. If the tester lights up, you power is still on to the fixture.
  2. If you electrical box for the fixture is too shallow, you may need to replace it before moving on to the next step.
  3. This is where the manufacturer's recommendations may differ. Our basic recommendation is to run the wires through the rubber gasket, connecting the white, black, and ground wires (either green or copper) with wire connectors.
  4. Screw the fixture back into place, making sure your rubber seal is tight to the box so that moisture does not get in. If need be, put a bead of caulk around the edge.
  5. Adjust the motion detector and light bulbs at the view you would like. Note that this can be adjusted later if it does not meet your needs or is too sensitive.
  6. Set the detector to the sensitivity distance that meets your needs. Note that this can also be easily adjusted at a later date.

Top 5 Best Motion Sensor Lights

Outdoor motion lights are also good for illuminating the dark while you are moving around the outside of your home.


20W Dual-Head Motion Activated LED Outdoor Security Light

Dual-Head Motion Activated LED Outdoor Security Light

The LeonLite 20W Dual-Head Outdoor LED Motion Sensor Light has an easily adjustable body and light heads to allow for the most optimal light settings. Its LED lights illuminate a 180 degree angle and have a 70 foot sensing distance.


  • 50,000 hour lifespan
  • 3 LED light heads
  • Easy installation
  • Price



RAB Super Stealth Bullet

RAB Super Stealth Bullet

The RAB Super Stealth is an industrial grade motion sensor light that has a 60 foot detection range and 180 degree sensing range. The RAB must be drilled into a sturdy surface so it is not the best option for those who are not as handy with tools.


  • Wide range for sensitivity control
  • 1,000 Watt Lights
  • Dual heads


  • Higher price
  • Hardwired

Heathco Style Motion Sensing Security Lantern

Heathco Style Motion Sensing Security Lantern

The Heathco Motion Sensor Light is a great option that can be placed discreetly due to its decorative style that helps it blend with your home. It has two-level lighting: one for dim accent lighting and another bright setting for when motion is detected.


  • Decorative style
  • Weather resistant
  • Two-level lighting


  • Smaller sensing range

Mr Beams MB390 Wireless Battery Powered LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor

Mr Beams MB390 Wireless Battery Powered LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor

The Mr Beams LED Spotlight with motion sensor gives you all the basic features you would want in a motion sensor light at an affordable price. It only takes about five minutes to install and with a long battery life, it is sure to keep your home protected for a long time.


  • Top Customer Reviews
  • Price
  • Wide light reach
  • Easy installation


  • Quick auto shut off

Solar Motion Sensor Lights, LED Waterproof Solar Powered Security Light

Solar Motion Sensor Lights, LED Waterproof Solar Powered Security Light

This Solar Motion Sensor Light is easy to install and because it's solar powered, it will not add an additional amount to your energy bill. Once you install it, it will be ready to go in 6-8 hours after it gains enough energy. Then its durable weatherproofing will keep it going for years to come.


  • Price
  • Eco Friendly
  • Easy Installation


  • Smaller sensing range and angle