A motion sensor light comes on once it detects motion from a person walking nearby.
It’s an important part of your home security. It’s also a convenient and energy-saving way to light up entryways and garden paths at night.
Unlike traditional outdoor lights that stay on all night long, a motion sensor only activates when there is movement. This saves energy.
There are different types of motion sensor lights. But they all work on the same principle: detect movement, activate light.
You can also have the motion sensor trigger an alarm for extra security.
In this buying guide, I’ll give you some tips on buying the right motion sensor outdoor lights for your home and review the best ones you can buy online in the UK.
What to Consider When Buying Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights
a. Type of Motion Sensor
Passive infrared sensors are the most common. They work by detecting infrared heat given off by the body.
If it detects a rapid heat spike from a specific area, the sensor triggers the light.
Microwave sensors work by emitting microwave radiation and measure waves reflected off someone moving. They cover a larger area than passive infrared sensors but are more expensive. They are also prone to mistaking pets and moving objects like branches for people.
Similar to microwave sensors, ultrasonic sensors produce ultrasonic waves and measure the reflections from someone moving.
Other types of motion sensors used in outdoor lights include vibration sensors and tomographic motion detectors.
Some outdoor lights have dual detectors where two different types of sensors are used; e.g. passive infrared and microwave. This reduces the risk of misidentifying pets and objects as people.
b. LED vs. Incandescent Outdoor Lights
This one is a no brainer. Go with LED lights.
They are better for the environment, they last longer and they use less energy, thus saving you more money.
Another advantage of LED bulbs is that they are brighter than similar-wattage incandescent bulbs.
Unfortunately, they don’t come in high wattages. If you need more brightness, you’ll have to buy several LED lights.
c. Solar vs. Conventional Electric Outdoor Lights
Solar lights will save you money in energy costs. But their downside is that you cannot use them all year round.
Since home security doesn’t take a break, you should probably have conventional electric lights installed for use during the colder months.
You’ll still get to save money since you’ll be using solar lighting most of the year.
d. Ease of Installation
Ease of installation will depend on the light’s power source.
Battery and solar-powered outdoor lights are the easiest to install. You simply need to mount them somewhere high.
If the light needs hardwiring, you’ll have to hire a licensed electrician to set it up.
e. Illumination Period
This refers to how long the light stays on when it is triggered by the motion sensor.
Most lights stay on for 20 or 30 seconds while others have an adjustable illumination period.
Best Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights Reviews
You can get these lights in either a 2 pack or a 4 pack depending on your security lighting needs.
Each pack consists of 20-LED lights that provide as much brightness as 15W incandescent bulbs. The wide-angle design provides large coverage.
The motion sensor in the lights can cover a radius of about 8m from the light.
The illumination period is 30 seconds though it can be shorter when the battery is not fully charged.
Talking of the battery, these lights are solar-powered.
This means you can install them yourself – no need to spend more money on an electrician. You also get to save money on your electric bills.
On the downside, they will struggle during the cold months. Illumination period will get shorter in autumn and winter.
But it’s unlikely that they will fail to work at all.
That’s because the lights use PET laminated solar panels with high efficiency. They maximize solar energy conversion even on cloudy days.
What we like about them:
- Solar powered lights – easy installation and energy savings.
- Wide-coverage motion sensors.
- High-efficiency solar panels to maximize the amount of solar energy captured.
- Energy-saving LED lighting.
You can use this fixture both as a decorative and security light.
It has a beautiful European heritage design with a modern aluminium finish. If you are looking for a decorative garden light, this is a great choice.
Functionally, it comes with a long-range motion sensor and works with a 60W bulb to light up a large area.
The bulb is not included.
You can get the recommended 60W incandescent bulb or use an 8w-12w LED bulb. It will provide just about the same level of brightness but with way less power consumption.
An LED bulb is especially beneficial if your motion sensor keeps getting triggered by branches and other moving objects.
Installation is easy and straightforward if you are replacing an old outdoor light. The wires will already be in place and all you need to do is connect them to the light.
If there are no wires, you may have to hire an electrician.
The light is weatherproof. It has an IP44 rating meaning it can withstand a significant amount of dust and splashing water.
So a bit of rain won’t do it any harm.
The motion sensor has two settings that you can adjust.
One lets you set how dark it has to be before the light comes on. The other configures how long the light stays on after being activated by the motion sensor.
What we like about it:
- Weather-proof – safe for outdoor use.
- Beautiful design.
- Adjustable settings.
- Compatible with LED lights.
If you are looking for a minimalist motion sensor light for your balcony, porch or garden, get this beautiful cylinder wall LED from Osram.
The fixture has a stylish modern design with a stainless steel finish. It is rated at IP44, making it safe for outdoor installation.
The fixture comes with a 6W LED light. It’s as bright as a high-wattage incandescent bulb but uses less power.
But unlike a traditional bulb that can sometimes be too harsh on your eyes, this Osram light produces a warm even glow. This makes it a great addition to entryways, the garden or the porch.
You can install it low on the wall without dazzling everyone’s eyes.
Installation is easy. Once you’ve set it up, adjust the light level and illumination time settings.
You do this by turning a couple of screws. One lets you set how dark it should be before the light starts coming on. Choose the lowest setting to have it activate only at night.
The other screw sets the illumination period after the light is activated by the motion sensor.
What we like about it:
- Beautiful modern design.
- Easy to install and adjust.
- Energy-saving LED lighting.
If you are looking for extra-bright solar-powered motion sensor lights, I recommend this Baxia 2-pack.
Each fixture consists of 28 LEDs, providing adequate brightness (around 400 lumens) for your security and illumination needs. The light’s 120-degree angle provides wide coverage.
The motion sensor in the light can detect movement up to a range of 10 feet (3m).
There are no motion sensor settings. The lights will automatically activate at night and stay on for about 30 seconds when they are triggered. There’s also no dim mode.
It’s important that you install the lights where they will receive direct sunlight for several hours a day. This ensures the battery has enough charge at night.
This is not a problem during the sunny months. But during autumn and winter, you’ll notice the lights getting dimmer and the illumination period getting shorter.
Installation is easy. No wiring is needed. Just use the two screws provided to secure the light to the wall.
You can install the lights anywhere outdoors. They have an IP65 rating meaning they can withstand the elements and quite a bit of dust without any damage.
What we like about them:
- Energy-saving and durable LED lights.
- Easy installation.
- Solar-powered – easier to install and saves energy.
This LED light has a stylish circular design with a black trim. It’s a beautiful decorative addition to your porch, balcony or garden.
The wide circular design results in warm diffused light rather than a bright spotlight that burns the eyes.
But it’s still very bright. Rated at 10W, the LED fixture produces up to 700 lumens of light, easily illuminating your entire garden or driveway.
The motion sensor has a range of about 8m to 12m.
You cannot adjust how sensitive it is (it can at times be triggered by a passing car or pet), but you can set when it comes on and for how long it stays on.
Installation is straightforward especially if you are replacing an old light. The wires are colour-coded so it should be easy to hook up the connections the right way.
The fixture is IP54 weatherproof, making it safe for outdoor use.
What we like about it:
- Bright, energy-saving and long lasting LED light.
- Long sensor range.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to reset outdoor motion sensor lights?
If your outdoor motion sensor light is stuck in an on or off position, or doesn’t seem to be working properly, turn off the circuit breaker for at least 30 seconds then turn it on again. Some light may need to be turned off for longer to reset.
For motion sensor lights connected to a switch, turn it on for a couple of seconds, turn it off for another two seconds and then switch it on again.
You can also try turning the switch on and off five times in rapid succession. Once the light stays on, turn it off and wait five seconds before tuning it on again.
If none of these methods work, you may need to replace the bulb.
How to adjust outdoor motion sensor lights?
To adjust sensitivity, turn on test mode and set the light to the lowest sensitivity. Walk around the light in circles to see how far the motion sensor’s range is. Adjust the sensitivity to tighten range to your liking or make the light more sensitive to movement.
To adjust when the light activates, check it has a LUX mode or setting. Turn the dial towards the sun symbol to trigger the motion sensor when it’s lighter and towards the moon symbol to have the light activate when it’s darker.
Also, check if there is a standby time setting. This lets you change how long the light stays on after it’s triggered.
How to replace a motion sensor for outdoor lights?
If the light has a motion sensor built into it, you’ll need to replace the entire light. But if the motion sensor is external, you just need to remove the light and wall plate to access the electrical connections.
Don’t forget to turn off the circuit breaker or, just to be safe, the entire electrical supply to your home.
Disconnect wires leading to the motion sensor. Remove the motion sensor and replace it with a similar-wattage motion sensor. Reconnect the wires and screw the lights back on.