Outdoor Lifestyle Blog

A motion sensor light is an effective security tool when it is properly installed. The fixture will detect motion in your backyard (or front yard, if you prefer) and automatically turn the light on. A bright floodlight will then bathe the area with enough light to let you see who or what may be out there.

Knowing how to install an outdoor motion sensor light properly means you must get three steps right.

  1. The motion sensor must be able to detect movement in a designated area.
  2. Power must be supplied to the light.
  3. The amperage of the light must work with the circuit amperage at the installation.

If you’re unfamiliar with electrical installations, it is a good idea to hire a contractor for this installation. For those who are ready to get started, here is what you’ll need to do.

Step #1: Turn off your electricity at the main fuse box. If you cannot check the amperage of the wiring at the fixture where the light will be installed with a voltage meter, then it’s better to turn off the power to the entire home. Make sure you unplug any sensitive electronics before cutting the power.

Step #2: Remove the existing fixture. Start by removing the light bulbs from the fixture. Then remove the screws from the wall plate. Carefully take the fixture down. Check wiring with a voltage meter (it’s a good idea to do this even if you’ve cut all the power).

Step #3: Attach the base of the new light. Your new base will directly replace the base from the old light that you’ve taken down.  Every one of the best outdoor motion sensor lights contains manufacturer’s instructions that are a little different. Make sure you follow the included instructions with your product to complete this step. Test the base to ensure it is secured to your fixture before proceeding.

Step #4: Attach the mounting strap. This will go over the existing fixture box. It is what will allow you to attach the wires before you mount the fixture of the new outdoor motion sensor light.

Step #5: Wire it up. You’ll need to pair the black wire (this is the supply wire) with the black fixture wire on your motion sensor light. Then pair the white wire with the white fixture wire. There will be a third wire of a different color or it may be bare. This is the ground supply and will attach to a similar component on the new light. If the wiring colors do not match, which is very common in homes that are built before 1970, then you’ll need to use a voltage meter to identify the positive, negative, and ground wires. Make sure all wiring connections are secure.

Step #6. Finish the installation. Use a screwdriver to drive the installation screws into the new wall plate. Apply caulking around the junction box to prevent moisture seepage. Then test your light to see if it works. If it does not, double-check your connections. Then adjust the angle of your lamps to get the most coverage.

An outdoor motion sensor light can usually be installed in 60 minutes or less. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to get the job done.