LED Sensor Light – How does It Work and Where to Install

How motion detectors work

Motion detectors are small electronic eyes that detect infrared waves—heat waves that radiate from moving objects. When the detector senses an object moving across its field of view—especially warmer objects such as people, animals and cars—it electronically turns on the lights. The light stays on anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes, depending on how you preset the timer. Then the detector automatically shuts the light off unless it continues to sense movement. A photocell deactivates the light during daylight hours. Most motion detectors have a semicircular field of view of up to 240 degrees and a distance range, adjustable on most detectors, that extends to 70 ft. or more. The detector will react to the movement of your dog, an approaching person, a passing car or sometimes even wind-blown leaves.

Nuisance “trips,” such as blowing leaves or a passing car, can fool the detector and turn the lights on when you don’t want them. These can be annoying to both you and your neighbors, and in fact, some homeowners won’t install motion detector lights for this reason. However, you can solve most unwanted switching-on by adjusting the distance-range setting and by carefully aiming the sensor to limit its field of view. You can also narrow the field of view even more by applying tape to the sensor, as shown in Photo 7. If nuisance trips concern you, be sure to buy a light that has an adjustable distance/range setting, and an aimable detector unit as shown in Fig. A, Nos. 1 and 3.

Motion detectors allow you to operate the light in the conventional, manual way, usually by flipping the switch off for a second, then back on. This allows you to keep the light on at night when you want to, even when there’s no motion. By double flipping a second time, you return to automatic.

Figure A: Motion detector and light styles

There are many motion detector and light styles to choose from.

Where to put them

For best effectiveness, position a motion sensor light to cover the walks leading to your front and back doors and the driveway (see lead illustration). That way the lights will come on when you come home at night. You can also use them to light up decks, patios and any potentially hazardous locations such as around stairways and swimming pools.

If improved security is a priority, position the 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 can’t guarantee security, of course, but it’s one of the best low-cost ways to get unwanted intruders to back away.

Ideally, it’s best to mount a motion sensor light 6 to 10 ft. above the ground and position it so that most movement will occur across the sensitivity zone rather than directly toward the detector. Obviously you can’t always do that if you use existing light locations. One solution is to buy a remote motion sensor unit that you can mount some distance away from the light itself (Fig. A, #3). The wires connecting them to the light are low-voltage and not dangerous, so you don’t have to enclose them in metal or plastic conduit.


Need Outdoor Security Lighting? Here’s The Problem With Motion Sensors

It’s easy to assume that any potential criminal runs away scared when that bright light turns on, alerting homeowners to a threat outside. Well…not exactly.

Remember when car alarms first came out? Everybody thought as soon as your car alarm started screeching, it would instantly scare off whoever was trying to break in.

But soon, everyone’s cars were equipped with car alarms, and they were suddenly going off all over the place, for no reason. Now, nobody pays attention. They’re just an annoyance.

It’s the same thing with motion sensor lighting — particularly inexpensive, DIY motion sensor lighting. First, the dog walks by and sets it off. Then a strong wind triggers it. And soon, nobody notices.

When To Install Motion Sensor Landscape Lighting

People ask for motion sensor lights all the time. We’re happy to give the customers what they want.

But when we do install them, it’s more likely to be for the homeowner’s convenience than to deter burglars. Maybe there’s a zone in back of the house where they take out the trash. They decide it would be nice to have a light go on while they pass through, and then turn off. They don’t want that light on all the time.

Century CP-BPLL3 Motion Sensor Battery Powered LED Light for Entrance, Hallway, Garage and Bathroom (3 Pack), Off-White, 3 Unit
  • ✓ DUAL SENSORS: Each unit is equipped with a light sensor and a motion sensor. Motion sensors will...
  • ✓ 3000 HOURS: Long lasting LED life lasts 3000 hours. Unit will automatically power off after 15-30...
  • ✓ STICK-ON DESIGN: Simply peel back the double-sided adhesive sticker and apply to a flat clean...
  • ✓ VERSATILE: Works great indoor and outdoors, especially as a night light, for stairs, steps, hallways,...
  • ✓ 3 PACK: Each pack comes with 3 motion sensor stick-on LED lights. 3 x AAA batteries required (not...

Sensor Lighting for Kids

Dsben Plug-in LED Night Light with Dusk to Dawn Sensor, Warm White& 8 Colors Changing- Fix Single Color, 2 Pack
  • Auto Turn/Off: the nightlight automatically illuminate at dark and shut off at dawn. Energy efficient...
  • Multicolor Kids Night Lamp with 2 Modes: glare-free warm white(3500K) mode and 8-color carousel mode...
  • Color Options& Memory Function: select a fixed color you desire under the mode of colors cycle. The...
  • Offset Plug Prongs& Ultra-slim: the nite lite doesn't cover up the second outlet on the wall, compact...
  • Eye-caring Illumination: Just right amount of soft light glow for your eyes to find the way. Perfect for...

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