DIY Network

How to Install Motion-Activated Lights

Motion sensors can be installed in your home just like any other switch.

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Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Determine Where Sensors are Needed

Motion sensors use infrared technology to sense changes in heat patterns and trigger a circuit. Here’s an easy way to keep your connections straight. Transfer wires one at a time from the old switch to the new.

Think about where lights are often left on: bedrooms, offices and kids room for sure. A closet or pantry is a good candidate, too.

Step 3: Set Up Outdoor Lighting

Outside, you can easily install motion activated lights in an existing fixture. Most units let you adjust the range and direction of the sensor. Most outdoor motion detectors have a semicircular field or view of up to 240 degrees and an adjustable distance of up to 70 feet or more. You can also connect a remote sensor to the light and place it nearby.

Mount motion detectors lights 6-10 feet above ground and position them so movement is more likely to occur across the sensitivity zone rather than towards. You can solve most unwanted trips of the sensor by adjusting the distance and aiming the direction of the sensor. You can also narrow the range by placing a piece of electrical tape over the outside portion of the sensor.

Once tripped, lights usually stay on for anywhere from 1-20 minutes. Many lights have timers that let you adjust the setting. The light will shut off unless it detects further movement. A photocell disables the sensor during daylight hours. To improve security, position lights to cover all approaches to your house, as well as dark areas such as around trees and shrubs.