When we bought our second house, it came with a handful of outdoor motion sensor light fixtures, a couple of which were broken by the roofers we hired, but I digress.
Motion sensor lighting was something that had never really occurred to me before seeing it already implemented in our new place.
I’ve since become particularly fond of the motion sensor light at our front door. If we’re walking in with groceries, the cat walks by or any kind of movement occurs within 10 feet of our front door, it cuts on and holds for 60 seconds. In terms of home security, it’s also a nice heads up for when we’re sitting in the living room watching TV.
If someone is at the front door, and it’s dark out, we know about them long before they know about us.
It also makes the event of someone having the nerve to tamper with our front door’s lock extremely unlikely.
Where should I install an outdoor motion sensor light?
Since moving in, we’ve installed motion sensor lights in the following locations, where the wall near the bottom of the drawing is the front of the house:
This arrangement gave us a nice “circle” of protection and, on a practical note, made it much easier to take the trash out at night.
Since I always find myself using my iPhone flashlight for this sort of thing, having the outdoor motion lights installed liberally, made a lot of everyday tasks much easier.
The Home Security Benefits
Moreover, the benefits to our home’s security is rather self-evident.
Not only does the placing of these lights frustrate potential intruders, but the “flickering” of any given light can serve as a subtle alert, to let us know where an intruder might be lurking near our house.
As always, it’s going to be easier for an attacker to find a home without outdoor flood lights, as opposed to dealing with the inconvenience presented to them by your home.
Some Outdoor Motion Sensor Light Fixtures I Like
If possible, solar is the best option, just because they’re easier to setup and don’t need to be wired into the electrical circuit.
The lights that were originally installed on our front and back doors (before we moved there) are wired in and can actually be controlled by a switch inside the house. I’m not crazy about that, as there’s never really any reason for me to turn the switch inside “off.” I guess the idea is that you can set the lights to be on for an elongated period of time, but I’ve never had much use for that.
So, here are a few features I do like and would recommend looking for:
- An adjustable timer (length of time the light stays on after being “tripped” – 30, seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5, etc.)
- Solar power
- Uses an LED bulb (they last a really long time)
I’ll cover the sets that I use, as well as a set that my friends have tried and recommended.
This is the set I bought for the side door that leads into the kitchen, and they do a fantastic job of lighting up that area, which has two “entry points,” one pathway leading to the front yard and a stairway leading to the back porch.
On a practical note, they come in packs of four, which is a perk that you don’t get with a lot of other deals.
They’re also easy to install, run off solar power and will preemptively turn on if and when they sense motion, giving you 30 seconds of light.
The total lifespan of the LED bulbs is 50,000 hours which is gonna be hard to crack unless you make a habit of leaving them on as continuous lighting, which is an option.
One downside is that when the bulbs do run out, I believe that the entire unit has to be replaced. Again, it will take a long time to run the bulb 50,000 hours, so that’s not something I would worry about, especially when you consider the cost of the unit isn’t much more than a raw LED light bulb anyway.
This photo is similar to how I have mine setup, directly on a brick exterior:
Installing the Motion Sensor Lights: Brick, Porch or Fascia Board
Since I have a brick ranch-style home, I had to use a concrete drill bit to bore holes for the screw anchors, which was a reasonably painless process.
Ideally, some kind of a wooden exterior would be the easiest method. Some of my buddies have just put them up higher on the fascia board right underneath their gutters.
If you go that route, there’s no need to use the anchors. Just use a drill and screw the unit directly into the fascia board.
Another popular use is to put them on a porch or back deck which, again, is a completely straightforward installation process.
- Solar power
- LED (extremely long bulb life)
- Aesthetically decent
- Easy installation
Our church purchased this set for their offices, and paid a member of our congregation (who also happens to be a contractor) to install them. Surprisingly, that process only took a couple of hours.
So, while it doesn’t meet the solar requirement, I still like this set a lot, since it comes through on the following checklist:
- 2500 lumens (very bright)
- Adjustable detection area (up to 50 ft.)
- 22 year long LED life
- Adjustable timer and “always on” mode
For businesses or non-residential needs, an outdoor motion sensor light with an extended range and brighter coverage will be a better option, even if you need to go through the trouble of wiring it into the existing circuit.
Our church only needed two, one for the front entrance and back, as each one lights up a ton of space.
The additional flexibility of being able to extend the timer or to leave the lights running makes it useful for deck and patio spaces where you might be entertaining or needing the light to stay on for longer periods of time.
Overall, it’s just way more versatile than the solar pairs.
- 2500 Lumens (really bright)
- Adjustable detection area (up to 50 ft.)
- 22 year bulb life
- Always-on mode
If we’re honest, finding the best motion sensor light is a bit subjective.
There are a lot of options out there, and most of them do the job fairly well. What I’m trying to do is tell you what I know has worked for me and what I would buy if I were the shopper.
In that respect, here are a few others I’d advise taking a look at:
- SANSI LED Motion Sensor Light
- Brinks Motion Pair Security Light
- Heath/Zenith Decorative Motion Sensor Light
Does brightness really matter that much?
If your primary concern is securing an entryway, than the lumens involved with outdoor motion sensor lights isn’t a major concern.
Obviously, you need them to be reasonably bright, but just enough to see the area directly in front of the entryway. The small ones at my house give me about 15-20 feet of well-lit surface area, which is certainly enough to up the security of the entryway.
Now, if I were to put in a set that would double as a long-term or “always on” lighting solution for parties or sitting out on a porch, I’d want something more like the Home Zone pair that can be adjusted up to 50 feet.
Take into account the context of how you intend to use them and buy accordingly.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of CGauthier2112