Outdoor lighting is an important part of your home, providing security and peace of mind. To cut down on your electricity bill and reduce light pollution that might be irritating to neighbors, many homeowners choose motion-sensing lights that turn on only when people or large animals move within their field of vision.
If you’re currently in the market for motion-sensing lights to illuminate your outdoor space, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed by the number of options available.
When choosing a motion-sensing light, consider these key features:
The power source you plan to use
The desired function (e.g. lighting a deck vs. lighting up a driveway)
Required brightness level
Take some time to think about your priorities, know your budget, and read product reviews thoroughly. Armed with this basic information and questions to ask salespeople, you’ll be ready to browse the available options and make an informed decision.
Read on to learn more about the key features you should look for, important questions to ask, and our recommended products.
How to Choose a Motion-Sensing Light
You already know you want some weather-resistant, motion-sensing lights. Now what? A few other things to consider:
Do you want the lights to be solar, battery-operated, or to plug into a power outlet?
Are they primarily for visibility, security, or decoration?
Are you looking for lights that install directly into a wall or something that offers more flexibility, such as pathway lights?
What is your budget?
Do you want your lighting system to integrate with your home automation system?
Does it have the features you’re looking for?
Is it compatible with the power source and installation location?
These factors can help you decide where to start looking. If you have a relatively high budget and are looking for bright, high-powered lights that potentially connect to other security devices, there’s a range of products for that.
If you’d like some minimally disruptive light to illuminate a pathway or porch, there are plenty of options for that as well. The four products below cover a range of uses and budgets.
Where to place motion-sensing lights
Your first priority is lighting up all pathways leading up to the home, in both the backyard and the front. There should be sufficient wall-mounted lighting all around the home as well to eliminate any potential hiding spots for burglars.
Here are some more examples of ideal locations to put your motion-sensing lights:
Around swimming pools
Around large bushes or trees
Fences and atop fence gates
While motion-sensing lights are not enough on their own to provide complete security, they are an effective way at deterring opportunistic burglars looking for an easy score.
This simple double-headed floodlight is easy to install, provides bright lighting, fully adjustable settings, and comprehensive coverage with 3 motion-sensing LEDs. It is made of weather-resistant aluminum and pre-wired and assembled on a universal CU4 EZ plate for quick and easy installation on any exterior wall with existing wiring.
Features include an adjustable timer, a full field of vision, and advanced detection logic to minimize false triggers. The sensor even adjusts for temperature changes to maintain consistent motion detection in extreme weather conditions. Customers who have reviewed the product agree that installation is easy and the function of the motion sensor is excellent.
The double-headed Super Stealth lights come in several styles and colors and run from $80-$150.
Decorative Outdoor Lighting
A convenient and flexible option, the Mr. Beams Motion Sensing Path Lights are battery-powered stake lights that don’t require any attachment to a structure and can be arranged in various ways to line a path, surround a structure, or illuminate a dark stairway.
Because they’re battery-powered, there are no wires to trip over or concerns about reaching your outlet.
They come in a variety of designs to fit your home's aesthetic and are versatile enough for all kinds of pathways, stairwells, and porches. Mr. Beams even offers several stick-on options for those dark stairwells and dangerously dim nooks.
Upgrading your night-light to one with a motion sensor means more restful sleep and illumination only when you need it.
Mr. Beams offers a line of path lights in various styles, brightness, and prices, starting as low as $13 a unit.
They require 6-8 hours to fully charge and provide up to 12 hours of continuous nighttime light, with a motion sensor sensitive to 16 feet.
Each light contains 44 LEDs for impressive brightness and three power modes so you can control the brightness and motion sensor. If you get abundant sunshine, solar-powered lights are a great way to increase your energy efficiency and avoid dealing with wiring and power sources.
If you already have a smart home system, you can easily purchase bulbs that will connect via Bluetooth and allow you to control motion sensors, scheduling, and more via your existing app.
The bulbs are affordable (usually starting around $15 each), efficient, and come in various colors and style. One product that has garnered good customer reviews in this category is the Philips Hue line.
These technologically advanced bulbs fit into standard sockets and connect to the Philips Hue app, allowing you to remotely control brightness, color, and more. With the addition of the Philips Hue Motion Sensor ($40), you can turn any or all of your Hue bulbs into motion-sensing lights, eliminating the need to use your phone to turn on lights in key areas.
If you’re considering or already using Hue, the Motion Sensor is a fantastic addition to your home lighting system.
Want to know more about all the things you can do to protect your home? Check out our free guide at the link below.
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Top 5 misconceptions about home security
How to assess vulnerabilities in your home
Why home security is about more than preventing burglaries
Cutting-edge security equipment: how home security has changed