Light Up Your Life: Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights for Safety and Convenience

Outdoor motion sensor lights are one of the most popular smart home devices today. Installing motion activated security lights around your home provides safety, security, and convenience. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about picking the best outdoor motion sensor light in 2023. s

Motion sensor lights add a huge layer of home security. They automatically turn on when motion is detected in their range, scaring off intruders. Motion activated lights also provide visibility and safety when taking out the trash, walking the dog, or doing other outdoor tasks at night. With so many options on the market, how do you determine the best outdoor motion detector lights for your needs?

How Do Motion Sensor Lights Work?

Motion sensor lights work by detecting infrared radiation given off by the human body. Most use passive infrared (PIR) sensors to detect this heat signature. The PIR sensor has a 120-180 degree range, and can reach up to 70 feet.

When the infrared sensor detects a change in temperature within its detection range, indicating motion, it activates the bulb or fixture to turn on. The light remains on for a set amount of time, usually between 5 to 15 minutes. Some lights require a warm-up period before activating when motion is detected again.

What Are the Benefits of Motion Sensor Lights?

There are many benefits to installing motion activated security lights around your home:

  • Deter Intruders – Motion lights deter potential intruders and burglars. The sudden illumination when motion is detected is unexpected and makes them feel exposed.
  • Enhance Safety – Well-lit pathways, doorways and other areas help prevent trips, falls and other hazards at night. Motion lights provide visibility when you need it.
  • Provide Security – Motion lights often replace or supplement outdoor security cameras. The instant light can startle someone up to no good.
  • Reduce Energy Use – Motion sensing lights only turn on when needed. This conserves electricity compared to lights that stay on all night.
  • Offer Convenience – Arriving home at night, taking out the trash, late night dog walking, and other outdoor tasks become quicker and easier with motion activated lighting.

What Types of Bulbs Do Motion Sensor Lights Use?

Outdoor motion sensor lights accommodate all common light bulb types:

  • Incandescent – The most affordable bulb option, but also the least energy efficient with a shorter lifespan.
  • Halogen – Similar to incandescent, but about 30% more energy efficient.
  • LED – LED bulbs are the most energy efficient and longest lasting choice.They cost a bit more upfront but save on energy costs long-term.
  • CFL – CFL (compact fluorescent lights) are more energy efficient than incandescent, with a longer life expectancy. However, most homeowners now prefer LED.

Many motion security lights now come with LED or CFL bulbs included. Choosing lights with energy saving bulbs included saves you money right off the bat.

Key Features to Look for in Motion Sensor Lights

Here are some key features and specifications to keep in mind when selecting outdoor motion detector lights:

  • Detection Range – Look for a PIR detection range of at least 50 feet. Larger coverage areas in the 100 to 180 foot range are even better.
  • Field of View – A wider 140 to 180 degree field of view will cover more ground. Narrower angles often miss motion outside the cone.
  • Light Brightness – Measured in Lumens, go with at least 1300 to 1500 lumens for bright security lights. LED and halogen tend to be the brightest.
  • Adjustable Settings – The best outdoor motion lights have adjustable settings for light duration, sensitivity, detection range, etc.
  • Dual Head – Go with dual lamp heads to cover a wider area with bright light. These provide the best security.
  • Weatherproof – Ensure the housing is fully weatherproof and designed for wet outdoor use. IP65 rated or higher is ideal.
  • Smart Options – Upgrade to smart motion sensor lights that integrate with home automation systems like Alexa or Google Home for voice control.

Solar vs Electric – Which is Better for Outdoor Lights?

You have two options when it comes to powering outdoor motion sensor lights:

Solar Powered


  • No wiring required
  • Easy installation
  • Free renewable energy
  • May work in remote areas without electrical service


  • Limited brightness
  • Requires full sun exposure
  • Batteries may need replacing

Hardwired Electric


  • Brighter illumination
  • Consistent performance
  • Often cheaper upfront cost
  • No sun exposure or batteries needed


  • Professional installation often required
  • More difficult to install and wire
  • Electricity costs add up over time

For most homeowners, a hardwired electric