You can never be to safe now-a-days! You may already have a security system and a guard dog, but you might also want to learning how to install motion detector lighting, too. In this how-to guide, we will go over the best places for outdoor motion sensor lights, how to install them, how to set up the controls, and how to limit the unit’s field of view.
Typically, you’ll find motion activated outdoor lighting installed over the garage door, the front, side, and back doors. While these are great places for safety and visibility reasons, you may want to consider placing them in other areas as well. These places can include:
Go to your circuit breaker and find the switch for the light that you are going to be replacing. You’ll want to make sure that you flip the switch and turn the power off before you work with the wires. As an extra precaution, you can put up a “Under Maintenance” or “Do Not Touch” sign over the circuit breaker so that no one messes with the box while you’re working.
Most light fixtures are held to the wall with screws or small bolts. You will want to remove these fasteners and move the fixture so that the wires are exposed.
If the fixture is heavy, you may want someone to help you with this step while you test the wires with a voltmeter (to double check that the electricity to the fixture has been turned off) and to unwire it.
Note: Take note of the wiring. Most cases there will be a black wire and a white wire in the fixture, which will be attached to a matching wire. IF they are not, you will want to make sure you make note of where the wires do go. If you have a home that dates back before 1950, the wiring may not follow the same color codes that we use today.
Now that the old fixture has been removed, you can now proceed with installing the new fixture. You will want to strip the insulation from the ends of the black and white wires on the new unit. You will want to use wire strippers to do this. Then, reconnect the wires from the wall to the new fixture. Use wire connectors to secure the wires.
Once the unit has been wired properly, you will want to mount it to the wall using the hardware that was included with the fixture. Most fixtures will include a bracket that will need to be attached to the wall and you will attach the light to the bracket.
To adjust where the light will shine when the motion detector has been triggered, you will need to move the sensor head either horizontally or vertically (or both) so that the sensor’s field of vision is centered to the area you need covered. Once the sensor is in position, tighten the screws or ring nuts so that the sensor doesn’t move on its own.
Now that your unit is mounted and the electric is on, you’ll want to adjust the range at which the unit detects motion. To do this, you simply have to adjust the unit’s “Range” dial (it may be labeled as “Sensitivity”).
We recommend that you start with it being on the highest setting. Set the “on-time” switch to “Test”. This will let you see where the detection zone is and then you can adjust it accordingly.
Ø Note: You can adjust the field of view by using electrical tape to cover the lens opening. Chances are you won’t be able to get the perfect zone width on the first go. You will have to do a little trial and error to get the zone width you want.
If you are hoping to save a bit of electricity (not like motion detection lights use a lot of electric to begin with), you can go to solar route. These lights are incredibly simple to install. You can use a double sided exterior adhesive tape and place it in a sunny area.
The beauty of solar motion lights is that the solar panel on the light will collect the sun light during the day and will convert it to usable energy when it gets dark. You can adjust the range and field of view the same way with the solar lights as you can with the electrical kind.
Learning how to install motion detector lighting isn’t as scary as you might think it would be. It’s a project that only takes an hour (or more depending on how many lights you intend on installing around the home).
When you are tackling any kind of electrical project, you always want to make sure the electricity is turned off at the circuit breaker for that particular fixture, but you also want to check the wires with a voltmeter too for peace of mind and safety.