How to Add a Motion Sensor to an Existing Light -
10288 views | July 14, 2021

How to Add a Motion Sensor to an Existing Light

Motion sensors switch on the lights at the right time when you need them. This article will show how motion sensors work, the best spots to place them, and how to add motion sensors to existing outdoor lights.

The indoor and outdoor lighting of a house makes it stand out and appeals to an individual's mood. Therefore, homeowners spend a reasonable amount of time and energy picking out the perfect outdoor light fixtures.

Homeowners are often conflicted when it comes to prioritizing lighting functionality vs. appearance. One thing is certain; many feel apprehensive when hearing noises outside or fumbling for the keys late at night, wishing the outdoor lights were on.

If your outdoor lights don't have motion sensors, you can add them. It's relatively simple, and you won't even need extra wiring.

A motion sensor that automatically switches on your outdoor lights is undoubtedly a convenience when arriving home at night, as it shines a pathway towards the door. This addition will ease any concerns about intruders following you.

Motion sensors switch on the lights at the right time when you need them. This article will show how motion sensors work, the best spots to place them, and how to add motion sensors to existing outdoor lights.

Why Motion Sensors?

There are numerous benefits to outdoor motion sensor light bulbs. Convenience is one. You'll no longer have to struggle to find the right key to the door in the dark while trying to balance an arm full of shopping bags.

The most significant benefit of motion-activated outdoor lights is home security. Cameras and other surveillance devices are great deterrents for burglars and intruders, as this type of equipment is visible security. And much like security cameras, outside lights with sensors can ward off potential criminals. Outdoor lights with motion sensors can also support outdoor cameras by illuminating the surrounding area.

How Do Motion Sensors Work?

Motion sensors are an essential part of a home security system. For example, while door and window sensors alert a homeowner to someone entering the house, outdoor light motion sensors will alert them to motion outside the home. Even though there are various motion sensors, most rely on the same technology to detect movement by picking up on specific cues, such as vibration, temperature, or radiation.

The motion-sensing feature in outdoor lights is a passive system that can detect infrared energy. These sensors are known as Passive Infrared Detectors (PIR) or pyroelectric sensors. This type of motion sensor is sensitive to body temperature.

You may have noticed that some lights are sensitive to motion, but not to an individual standing still. The reason for this is that the sensors are actively looking for a rapid change in the level of infrared energy it's seeing. Therefore, when a person walks by, the infrared energy in that particular field of view changes and is easily detected. Likewise, motion sensors should be able to detect changes rapidly.

How to Add Motion Sensors to Existing Outdoor Lights

Motion sensors are relatively easy to install, but each brand is different. That is why it's important to read the manufacturer's instructions in the outdoor motion sensor kit.

Here are the steps you need to follow to add a motion sensor for existing light:

1. Pick an outdoor motion sensor kit online. First, make sure the existing light has an opening to screw into.

2. Turn the power off to the light, and remove the cover. Make sure to test that the power is off.

3. Remove the insert. This spot is where you want to install the motion sensor for the existing outdoor light.

4. Run the wires into the light. Finally, screw the motion detector into the light fixture itself.

5. Connect the wires. Combine the existing black(hot) wire to the motion sensor black wire. Then, tie both neutral wires together.

6. Adjust the sensitivity. Calibrate the detector, close it all up, and it's finished.

Now all you need to do is wait for it to get dark to check the motion sensor's sensitivity. You can adjust the motion sensor settings to fit your needs – sensitivity, duration, etc.

Where Are The Best Places to Install Motion Sensors?

It's best to position motion sensors to cover the walks leading to the front door, the back door, or the driveway so the lights come on when you return home at night. These motion sensors will also light the walkways and front steps leading to your front door for visitors.

You could also use motion sensors on decks, patios, and other spaces like around a swimming pool or stairways. If your priority is to improve the security of your house, you can aim motion sensors to cover all entrances, like patio doors and fence gates. Moreover, you could also direct the motion sensors into darker spaces of your yard, where intruders may choose to find cover.

Ideally, it's recommended to mount motion sensors 6 to 10 ft. above the ground and positioned so that most movement happens across the sensitivity zone. Unfortunately, this may not be possible in most existing light fixtures. However, you can install motion sensors that are mounted a little further from the lights themselves.

Also, the wires that connect the motion sensor to the light are always low voltage and not harmful, so you won't have to enclose them in plastic or metal conduit.


This article explains how to add a motion sensor to an existing light. However, the most straightforward way to achieve this goal is to purchase an outdoor motion sensor light bulb. Otherwise, you can purchase an installation kit and follow the steps above to add motion sensors to existing outdoor lights.

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