Best Motion Sensor Lights

Updated April 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

5 Models Considered
1 Experts Interviewed
163 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best motion sensor lights

Last Updated April 2020

If you’re a homeowner considering outdoor lighting, you have a broad range of options to compare. Since you might not need illumination all the time, or all through the night, motion sensor lights are your best bet.

Motion sensor lights are activated with movement, which means they’re only on when you need them. They’re ideal for walkways, driveways, and near garages. Some homeowners even install them at every exit of their home. Perhaps what’s most attractive about motion sensor lights, compared to regular ones, is that they don’t produce overwhelming illumination in the dead of night, which can be an eyesore to you as well as your neighbors.

If you’re ready to light up your home in a convenient way, keep reading our buying guide on motion sensor lights. We explain their unique features, plus we include our top picks to point you in the right direction. 

Many homeowners install motion sensor lights on sheds, which, if located several yards from the house, can lack adequate lighting.

Key considerations

Location

The most common areas where motion sensor lights are installed are the garage and driveway. After all, they’re high-traffic areas, as we pass through them to leave and return from work or take out the garbage.

Many homeowners also install motion sensor lights at the front door, as well as other exits. If you have a patio or pool area, it’s also helpful to install the lights around these areas to enjoy late evenings outside. 

Light color

The vast majority of motion sensor lights use LEDs, which are well liked for their reliability and brightness. While LEDs are known for their ultra-bright white illumination (compared to the yellow undertones of some incandescent light bulbs) there are now LEDs available in more than one color. Some motion sensor lights, for example, are available in daylight as well as warm white light.

Power source

Motion sensor lights draw power from UV rays, AC outlets, or batteries, or they can be hardwired into your home’s electrical system. For the most part, any of these will work in your home, but each comes with a caveat. 

Solar: If you’re looking for the most energy-efficient option, solar lights are ideal, but they might not be as efficient on very cloudy days or in shady areas. 

AC: Motion sensor lights that plug into AC outlets may require an extension cord, but the power cord can be a bit of an eyesore for some people. 

Battery: While battery-powered lights won’t draw power from your home, it can be costly to buy batteries on a regular basis. 

Hardwired: The motion sensor lights that can be hardwired are the most reliable, and they don’t pose the issues that solar-, battery-, or AC-powered lights do. For these, however, you’ll probably need to hire a licensed electrician, which is an added cost to your overall investment.

EXPERT TIP

Motion sensor lights are usually available in white, cream, or black. To help them blend in, choose a color that matches your home’s siding.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Single-head vs. dual-head

Motion sensor lights come in a variety of designs. Single-head models have one light for illumination and often cast light in a smaller radius and at a shorter distance. Dual-head motion sensor lights tend to cast light farther in more directions.

Adjustability

Some motion sensor lights have adjustable heads that can be tilted in various directions. They can either have a multidirectional tilt or be limited to up and down or left and right. Adjustability is an attractive feature in these lights, especially since you probably have a specific area you intend to light. Those that don’t have any directional adjustability can be effective as well, though you’ll need to install them at the right height for the best illumination.

Weatherproof

Because motion sensor lights are engineered for outdoor use, it comes as no surprise that they are weatherproof. They’ll hold up against all conditions: rain, hail, sleet, and snow. And it’s not just harsh winter weather that they can handle: motion sensor lights can also withstand humidity, high heat, and exposure to UV light.

Illumination

Time: Illumination time in motion sensor lights refers to how long the lights stay on once activated. In some models, you can set timers for anywhere between 20 seconds and 3 minutes. In others, there is a set time, usually around a minute, that the light will stay on.

Note that just because you stay within range of the sensor, it doesn’t mean the light will stay on continuously. If you remain motionless in the area, the light will shut off until it is activated by motion again. This is especially important to take into consideration when you’re shopping for outdoor lighting. In some areas, such as your patio or covered porch, you might be better served by regular outdoor lighting fixtures. 

Range: Illumination range varies considerably with motion sensor lights. On average, they cast light as far as 10 to 25 feet. The shape of your motion sensor lights may also play a role in the illumination range, with certain rectangular lights casting a wider light than round ones. Of course, it depends on the fixture’s design, but it’s still something to consider. 

Another thing to consider when comparing motion sensor lights, is how large of an area you intend to illuminate. In some cases, installing a single motion sensor light might not be enough. Rather, to achieve the full illumination range you desire, you may need to install more than one light. Some homeowners, for example, install motion sensor lights at opposite corners of a double garage, as opposed to a dual-light model in the middle of it. 

EXPERT TIP

If your garage doesn’t have overhead lighting, you can install motion sensor lights near the walls and doors instead. It’s a cost-effective solution that doesn’t have to involve expensive fixtures or a bill from an electrician.


Staff  | BestReviews

Motion sensor light prices

Motion sensor lights cost between $20 and $100, so they’re a budget-friendly option for all homeowners. The price depends on the number of lights in a set and the number of features they have.

Inexpensive: Motion sensor lights priced between $20 and $40 can include sets of single lights, as well as some dual lights. They might not be as durable as other options, but they’ll certainly last for a couple years.

Mid-range: Spend between $40 and $65 on motion sensor lights and you’ll find sets and models with a broad range of features. These can be adjusted to your preferences, thus offering an exceptional lighting experience.

Expensive: Those lights at the top of the price range, closer to $100, include more adjustability features and timer settings. Motion sensor lights in this category also include some models intended for commercial use. 

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Always install motion sensor lights during daylight hours, especially if you have to wire it. It makes the installation easier and much safer.

Tips

  • Note where the light is cast. If your home is close to your neighbor’s, be mindful that a motion sensor light could cast unwanted light on their property. If you’re not sure whether it will be an issue, talk to your neighbor to avoid any complications.

  • Add motion sensor lights to your registry. Motion sensor lights make unique gifts for newly engaged couples or new homeowners.

  • Save the warranty information. Most motion sensor lights come with a warranty, so be sure to save your receipt and purchase information. You might also need to register your product with the manufacturer. 

Other products we considered

There are lots of options out there, and we have a couple more products for you. We also like the SANSI Motion-Activated Security Lights. The kit includes all the components you need to hardwire the lights to your house. The dual-light design is fully adjustable, and with six LED lights total, you’ll illuminate a range of 50 feet. This motion sensor light also comes with a 5-year warranty, as well as responsive customer service from the manufacturer.

We’re also impressed with the Mr. Beams Wireless Motion Sensor LED Light. This two-pack is powered by D-cell batteries, which will last up to a year with ten activations daily. Installation is as simple as it gets, making it an ideal choice for the time- and budget-conscious homeowner.

If you put an addition on your home, you might need to relocate your motion sensor lights or install new ones.

FAQ

Q. Will motion sensor lights add value to my home?
A. They certainly can, especially if you’re about to put your house on the market. Not only do they add to your home’s overall energy rating, motion sensor lights also illuminate your home for evening showings. It’s also an expense the new owners can cross off their list.
 

Q. Will animals set off motion sensor lights?
A. They will. If you live near a wooded area, you have a lot of wildlife near you, or you install the lights near awnings and gutters where birds can build nests, expect to see your lights activated more often. Flying insects can also turn on the lights.
 

Q. Do motion sensor lights improve the security of my home?
A. Motion sensor lights attract attention, so they can be effective at fending off intruders. When they’re installed near security cameras, the added light can help improve the video resolution as well. Motion sensor lights can also give you a heads-up that unwanted visitors have entered the perimeter even if you don’t hear or see them.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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