How To Add A Motion Sensor To An Existing Light
31647 views | April 5, 2022

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 and 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 people feel apprehensive when hearing noises outside or fumbling for the keys late at night, wishing the outdoor lights were on.

A motion sensor that automatically switches on your outdoor lights is no doubt a convenience when arriving home at night, and 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 and the best spots to place them.

Why Have a Motion Sensor At All?

There are numerous benefits to having motion sensors integrated with your smart lighting. First, outdoor lights with motion sensors add convenience, like no longer having to struggle to find the right key to the door in the dark while trying to balance an arm full of shopping bags.

But 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. Moreover, outdoor lights with motion sensors can also support outdoor cameras by illuminating the surrounding area. One example is the Sengled PAR38 LED Floodlight with Motion Sensor, which screws into any outdoor socket to provide effective movement sensing and security.

Indoors, motion sensors add convenience and safety. Imagine coming into a dark house with an armful of groceries, or into the laundry room with a large hamper full of clothes? A motion sensor will relieve you from having to fumble for the light switch with your elbow, or risk tripping over an unseen pet. Likewise, a motion sensor in a hallway or bedroom can aid someone who wakes in the middle of the night and wants to go to the bathroom or even to the kitchen for a midnight snack. This is especially important near a stairway. Wiz makes an easy to set up motion sensor for it’s indoor WiFi lighting products, and it allows you to customize settings for all the lights in a room.

How Do Motion Sensors Work?

Motion sensors are an essential part of a home security system. For example, while door and window sensors alert the homeowner to someone entering the house, outdoor light motion sensors will alert them to someone prowling 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 who's 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.

Where Are The Best Places to Install Motion Sensors?

If speaking about convenience, it's best to position outdoor motion sensors to cover the walks leading to the front door, the back door, or the driveway. This positioning is 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 entries to the house, 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.

Indoors, motion sensors can be best used just inside entryways – like from the garage, or the back door, or utility spaces like laundry rooms. Other useful spots include at the top or bottom of stairs, near a bathroom, or in a hallway outside a child’s room or – in an extended household – near a grandparent’s room.

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.

Shop Smart Lighting

View All


Motion sensors offer many advantages for a smart lighting system, adding even more convenience and safety, too. Outdoors, the most straightforward way to achieve this goal is to purchase an outdoor motion sensor light bulb. Indoors, you can use a separate motion sensor unit to control your other smart lights – where and how you want.

© 2022 FirstEnergy Home