Motion detector lights are powerful tools for your home’s security. They are an ideal deterrent for thieves because they turn on immediately when motion is detected. Criminals tend to strike homes with little or no light because it’s easier to get away with the crime without being seen. But with a motion sensor, your light will turn on when someone approaches your home, giving you a heads up there could be an issue outside, and many times, scaring the person off.
If you’re considering motion sensor security lights for your home, you should understand how they
Motion sensor security lights: How do they work?
Motion detector lights give off a bright light when one of the motion detectors is tripped. There are several types of motion detectors with different technology within each sensor to make it operate. There are three main types of sensors that are commonly used in security lights: active sensors, passive sensors and dual technology sensors.
Active sensors give off a signal that detects movement. Those types of signals include:
- Ultrasonic: This is the most common type used to make security lights. It works by emitting high-frequency sound waves.
- Microwave: This type of sensor gives off electro-magnetic radiation that spots movement. This is ideal for larger areas.
- Tomographic: This type of motion sensor uses radio waves to detect motion.
- Area reflective: LED lights emit infrared rays that measure the distance between the sensor and the space.
A passive infrared motion sensor, or PIR, detects heat. This is a very common technology used in motion detector lights. If a person or animal passes by, it will notice the change in temperature and then turn on the motion sensor light.
Dual Technology Sensors
This type of sensor uses both ultrasonic and PIR technology to sense motion to turn on the security lights. Dual technology sensors are ideal for larger spaces, and also for reducing false alarms because both of the sensors must be tripped for the light to turn on.
Top 5 Motion Sensor Security Lights
Here are a few of our favorite motion sensor lights on the market:
Ring Spotlight Cam
This motion sensor light is popular because it not only gives off a bright LED light when motion is detected, but it also has a camera to catch any potential thieves in the act. A siren also deters thieves and alerts you to motion. The price may turn off some budget-minded customers, but since it has a camera too, our SecurityNerds believe it’s worth the extra money. (Check out our review of all the Ring motion sensor lights.)
- Connect your Ring camera with Alexa then enable announcements to be alerted when motion is detected. Talk to visitors through compatible...
- Lets you see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet and PC
- With a Ring Protect Plan (subscription sold separately), record all your videos, review what you missed for up to 60 days, and share videos...
- Powered by the quick-release rechargeable battery pack
- Monitors your home in 1080HD video with infrared night vision and Live View
Litom Solar Lights
No need for wiring here! This solar-powered security light captures energy from the sun and allows for 20 seconds of light each time the motion sensors are tripped at night. This LED light is waterproof, and can even save on electricity since it harnesses sunlight for power. The only downside is it’s not effective if your yard doesn’t receive much sunlight during the day.
LEONLIGHT 2 Head Floodlight
This motion sensor light bulb is incredibly bright, making it easy to spot motion both day and night. The adjustable heads allow you to illuminate the area you want, and the weatherproof product is ready for anything Mother Nature throws at it. Just note that installation is hardwired only.
- 3 Operation Modes: ON TIME mode allows manual control of the light. AUTO mode allows the light to detect ambient luminous intensity and...
- Save Even More: 20W security light provides high brightness equivalent to 150W halogen lights, which reduces your energy usage by 84% and...
- Durable and Lasting: IP65 waterproof rating ensures the light is protected against even harsh weather conditions. The outstanding lifespan...
- Reliable Quality: ETL and DLC listed product meets all regulatory requirements, ensuring a superior quality and safe operation, eligible for...
- Quality Assurance: 5-year product warranty guarantees your rights and interests from the day you make the purchase, providing a lifetime...
Mr. Beams MB360 Wireless Led Spotlight
This LED motion detector light is incredibly bright and simple to install thanks to a wireless setup. It provides 350 square feet of coverage, is powered by batteries, is weatherproof and is able to withstand extreme weather. It doesn’t have a whole lot of bells and whistles, but is ideal for a budget conscious buyer.
- Provides 350 square feet of coverage, battery operated (Best with Polaroid D Batteries)
- Extremely bright LED with minimum power consumption, 140 Lumens
- Motion sensor turns LED spotlight on and off automatically
- Features a weatherproof design for durability
- Simple wireless installation in minutes
Mr. Beams MB726 Motion Night Lights
Not all motion sensor lights are made for the outdoors—and these little nightlights aren’t technically security equipment. But if you want to add a motion sensor light in parts of your home like the garage or a hallway, you may want to check them out. These gadgets light up when motion is detected and don’t require an outlet. They’re also durable enough to use outside if you want a motion sensor to light a walkway or path. Just know that they’re not as bright as the outdoor flood lights, so they may not be as deterrent to thieves. However, they can be helpful to use as safety lights to avoid trips and falls.
- 20 lumens cover up to 10 square feet
- Motion sensor for auto-on up to 15 feet with 120 degrees angle of detection; auto-off after 30 seconds of no motion detected
- Super-bright LED bulbs last up to 50,000 hours. Simple to install no hardwiring. Requires 4 AA batteries per light (not included)
- Each light measures 1.2-Inch long by 3.75-Inch wide by 3.25-Inch tall
- Set of 6 motion-sensing LED nightlights for indoor or outdoor use. These little lights are mighty bright
Indoor vs. outdoor motion sensor lights
Indoor motion sensor lights are most useful for convenience. When you come home, you don’t have to worry about finding the light switch in the dark because these will turn lights on for you automatically. These lights are generally not as bright as their outdoor counterparts. They do have drawbacks, such as turning off on their own when you might still need the room illuminated.
Outdoor motion detector lights are primarily used to beef up security at your home. Not only will a bright motion detector light alert you to someone or something outside, it may very well scare away the perpetrator. The downside to the outdoor models is sometimes it can be triggered by animals, so you may get some false alarms if you live in an area with either high foot traffic or more wildlife.
Buying motion sensor lights: What to consider
Not all security lights are created equal. It’s important to evaluate your own security needs before making a purchase. Here’s what to look for to figure out which motion sensor light product is right for your home.
Range: If you only want the motion sensor lights to turn on at the doorway, you can pick a light with a sensor range of only a few feet. This way, you won’t have the lights turning on for people walking near the street or on a nearby sidewalk. But if you’re looking to scare off potential thieves in a larger property, getting a product with a larger range will be more beneficial to your security. Measure your space to know your desired range.
Light type: Most security lights are LED, which are not only incredibly bright, but also energy efficient. You can find some incandescent lights on the market, but they can get hot if they’re used often.
Power source: Battery-powered lights are the easiest for installation, but may not be ideal for people who are forgetful about changing out the battery. A solar security light option can take care of that problem, as it harnesses electricity from the sun. However, solar isn’t ideal for areas without plentiful sunlight. Hardwired systems are the most complex to install, but with them, you don’t have to worry about batteries running out or lack of sunlight.
Luminance: If you’re looking for a motion sensor light bulb to illuminate a larger area, find a product with more lumens. The more lumens a light bulb has, the brighter it is. For lights at the front door, for example, you may opt for a lower number of lumens than you would if you wanted to flood the entire yard with light.
Questions to ask before purchasing a motion sensor light
A power outage or power surge could cause the lights to either go on full time or turn off full time. You may need to reset the lights and check to make sure they’re working properly after the outage.
It’s possible your light may turn on when you don’t want it to, and it could be annoying to you or even your neighbors. Make sure to find a motion detection light where you can adjust the distance range or sensitivity in order to get your desired result.
While you may not think cleaning a light is very important, a dirty light can actually malfunction and not detect motion.
Motion detector lights are a relatively inexpensive way to add security to your home. These lights alert you to motion, and also have the potential to scare off would-be thieves. There are a variety of these lights available to fit any budget and security needs. Consider adding these tools to your home security repertoire.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.