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Installing Motion Sensor Lights PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 February 2008

Keep your home and family safe with Motion Sensor Lights.  Lighting is a huge deterrent to criminals.

I live in a townhouse and always considered myself to be safe here.  Not so!  The other night I came home quite late, opened the automatic garage door, and while waiting for it to open fully, I only then noticed someone lurking behind the pillar of the apartment two doors up. 

Okay, it turned out that it wasn’t something to worry about, it was a youngster from the apartment several doors up speaking to someone on his cell phone, but it did put the fear of … well … to say that my heart only started beating about five minute later would be an understatement.

It’s time to install motion sensor lights!  So my trusty friend and I decided to do just that.

This is where motion sensor lights are really useful, especially now when we are also trying to save energy and electricity as they turn off when there is no movement.

Most fixtures come with a setting that will determine how long the bulb stays lit (usually one to five minutes) as well as a sensitivity setting that determines how much motion it takes to turn the unit on.  Please don’t buy the least expensive, it’s just not worth it.  Look around and install the best, your family deserves it.

While I was doing my research the friendly fellow from my local hardware gave me a lot of useful information including that there is a motion sensor light that also comes with a buzzer that will buzz inside to let you know that it is has picked up someone moving outside.  Now this is useful, because would-be robbers, burglars, thieves might well think if the light goes on outside, so what – they’re asleep. Ha!  Got ‘em now.  You will be alerted inside that the light has picked up someone.

And you don’t have to worry about it picking up a dog or a cat – or in my case up here in my  mountain eyrie, a porcupine, the lights have a sensitivity setting that determines what kind of movement will turn the light on. But again, be advised that a two beam system is probably the best – you don’t want the neighbour’s dog triggering it.

They are also programmable to turn on at a certain time of the evening and go off at a certain time.

So let’s do it!  My friend has electrical experience, so if you’re not sure what you’re doing – get an expert to assist or do the job for you. 

The tools and supplies you will need are:


Cordless Drill
Voltage Tester
Wire cutter


Halogen Motion Sensor Light Kit
Walls plugs
Coach screws (usually supplied with the kit)
Waterproof Silicone 

Do the job safely:


Safety Tip!!

Before you do anything test the voltage tester on a live wire to make sure that the voltage tester works.

Then test the wires you will be working with using the voltage tester.

You probably do have an existing light fixture outside the house already, this would probably be a good place to install your motion sensor light.

If not, or if you want to install it on a wall where there is no existing fitting, you are going to need an electrician to run power from the nearest source.
Safety Tip!!

Once you have shut off the power, cover the distribution board (DB)  up or tape it shut to make sure that no one accidentally switches it on while you’re installing the light.

Removing the Original Fitting:

Remove the screws holding the existing fitting in place.  Remove the light bulbs.

Test the circuit with a voltage tester. This is done by sticking the end of the device into the bulb socket, making sure the tip of the tester touches the wires. Be sure to test all wires thoroughly before moving onto the next step.

Once you're sure there is no power coming to the line you need to expose the conjoined wires.  You will have to untwist the wires to remove the fixture from the wall. It would be a good idea at this point to do a little diagram for yourself, if this is not something you regularly do, this will at least show you exactly how the present fixture was wired. This same pattern will be followed when you go to mount the new fixture.

Again, I want to reiterate if you don’t know how to do this, it is best to employ the services of an electrician.

If you cannot get the wires untwisted you may need to use the wire cutter.  You will also need the wire cutter to trim some of the plastic sleeving off the wires to give you enough length to reattach them later.  You can also use a wire stripper.  Cut away enough plastic sleeving so that you can twist it a few times around another wire – roughly 2.5 cm.

Carefully remove the existing fixture from the wall.

Hopefully you have already had a look at how the new light is assembled.  If not, go back down the ladder and make sure you know how to assemble it.

Place the light box on the wall marking with a pencil where you want the screws to go.

Then, drill the holes for the screws in place and fix the unit to the wall.

Safety Tip!!

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions.

It is best to employ the services of an electrician if you don’t have a clue, but if you want to DIY -  be SURE to join the wires correctly - live to live [brown or red], neutral to neutral  [blue], earth [green/yellow]... PLEASE CHECK the manufacturer’s instructions and CONSULT a QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN if in doubt! 

You have to twist the wires together, and then cover them with insulation tape or a wire cap.

Safety Tip!!

Cover any exposed wires with electrical tape.  Exposed wires are very dangerous.

Attach any other pieces to the unit and screw into place.

Before you do anything else you now need to adjust the settings of the light to your preference.   You will get those instructions from the manufacturer’s leaflet.

Put the light bulbs in.  Test the unit by turning the power back on and switch your new light on.

Yay!  You’ve done it.  There is just one more thing to do now and that is to waterproof it tightly with silicone – check with your hardware the best waterproofing option to use for outdoor use.

You now need to test your sensor light.  Aim it an angle of about 45 degrees towards the ground where there is usually movement.  You might need to adjust it but you will find the right spot.
Hopefully this will go some way to making your home a safer place for you and your family.

Some Notes:

Make sure you the height is correct so as to ensure adequate coverage of the area.

Make sure it is stable, as high winds could change and affect the direction.

Don’t angle it towards tree branches, water, air vents or any other object that could change the temperature rapidly, as this could activate the sensor unnecessarily.

Outdoor wiring is best carried out by a qualified electrician.

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 February 2008 )
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