DIY Network

Install a Security Light

Replace an outdoor light fixture with a motion-sensing security light for safety and convenience all around your home.

More in Electrical

replace outdoor light fixture with motion sensor Watch Video
  • Time

    1 hour

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Highlights:

Step 1: Remove the Old Fixture

Shut off the power to the light circuit at the main electrical box.

Use a drill/driver to remove the mounting screws holding the fixture in place, then remove the fixture (Image 1).

Unscrew the wire nuts on the ends of the exposed wires and use a circuit tester to be sure the power is off. Detach the wires from the fixture.

The wires extending from the junction box in the wall may be “pigtailed,” or attached to other wires. If so, leave these wires connected — exterior lights are often wired together in a series so all can be turned on with one switch. The wires of the new fixture (Image 2) will be attached to these interior wires in the same way as the old model.

Step 2: Reconnect the Wires

On flat exterior surfaces, install the neoprene gasket (Image 1) behind the fixture to prevent water from seeping into the back. This fixture is designed for wet locations so the gasket is not needed. Although most exterior light fixtures are waterproof, check to be sure that the model you've selected is suitable for wet locations.

Strip about 3/4” of insulation from the ends of the new fixture wires and twist them onto the wires extending from the wall junction box (black to black wires, white to white wires). Secure each splice with wire nuts (Image 2).

Step 3: Install the New Fixture

Position the fixture over the junction box. Some fixtures fasten directly to the box, while others fasten to the wall. Use a drill/driver to tighten down the screws, taking care to tuck all wires into the box and not over-tighten the screws.

position fixture over junction box

Step 4: Program the Fixture

Open the cover panel on the fixture base to adjust the light settings. Most fixtures have high, medium and low sensitivity settings (for maximum security, select high sensitivity). Time settings, which determine how long the light stays on when activated, generally range from a few seconds to several minutes.

adjust the light settings

Step 5: Test the Motion Sensor

Screw the bulbs in place and restore power to the fixture at the breaker panel. To test the motion sensor, place a piece of tape over the light sensor (most motion-sensing lights will only illuminate at dark). Walk back and forth in front of the unit beyond its operating range, gradually moving closer until the unit senses you and turns on the light. The light should remain on for the time you set. Adjust the unit’s range sensitivity, if necessary.

Learn how upgrading exterior lighting can increase your home's value at HGTV's FrontDoor.com.

Was this project helpful?

Don't forget: Read comments and leave your own

Advertisement

Projects

COMMENT ON THIS PROJECT

    

Sign in

All fields are required.

E-mail Address:

Password:

Remember me on this computer

Signing in

Please enter your email address and we will send your password

E-mail Address

Your password has been sent and should arrive in your mailbox very soon.

Not a member?

Sign up with DIY Network to share tips with other do-it-yourselfers and comment and ask questions on projects.

It's free and easy.