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Outdoor security lights with motion sensing can help keep your home safe from intruders, and they also provide light exactly where you need it, when you need it, during the darkest hours of the night. We researched and tested lighting options for ease of use and installation, brightness, detection range and angle, and several other factors to find the best options for various scenarios.
Our favorite, the LEONITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light, is exceptionally easy to install and set up and lets you adjust the sensors, lights, detection range, and the amount of time the light stays on.
Here are the best outdoor motion sensor lights.
Best Overall: LEONLITE LED Security Lights Motion Sensor Flood Light Outdoor
IP65 water-resistant rating
Lamp can get in the way of the sensor
Who else recommends it? Bob Vila also picked the LEONLITE LED Flood Light.
What do buyers say? 82% of 2,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The LEONLITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light comes with an affordable price tag, and it’s packed with features you’d expect to find in a much more expensive light. It’s also easy to install and use, which is why it’s our best overall outdoor motion-sensing light.
The motion sensor has a wide 180-degree detection angle, with a range of around 69 feet. The sensor itself is also adjustable, which means you can aim it any way you need to get an optimum view of your space and the direction that any intruders are most likely to approach from. This light is tremendously customizable. Our tester raved about the straightforward setup and noted the solid, well-made construction (apart from the flimsy gasket) and intuitive controls. She was able to install it on the side of her house and illuminate the most important zones thanks to the adjustable lights.
You'll find independent controls for the brightness of the light, the light timer, and the sensor range. If the light turns on a lot from events like your neighbors moving around in their yard, that’s easy enough to take care of by adjusting the range. You can also set the light to motion-activation mode, stay on all the time, or remain on every night from dusk until dawn.
Best LED: LEPOWER 35W LED Security Light Motion Sensor
Great range and angle
No dusk-to-dawn mode
No always-on option
The LEPOWER 35W LED Security Light Motion Sensor is exceptionally bright, has a great sensor range and detection angle, and is ready to stand up to the elements with a solid IP65 weatherproof rating. It also pumps out 3,500 lumens from three huge LED panels, two of which are adjustable, so we recommend it as the best LED motion sensor light.
This light has a massive 72-foot sensor range directly in front of the sensor. That falls off to the sides, but you can aim the sensor to create an optimal detection area. If you don't need that wide a range, the sensitivity is adjustable. The LEPOWER also has three huge LED panels that can remain on for up to 10 minutes after activation. The only catch is that it doesn't have a dusk-to-dawn or always-on mode, so it works better as a security light than a floodlight.
Best Budget: HMCITY Outdoor 120 LED Solar Lights
Excellent motion detection
Stays on as long as motion is detected
Switch is difficult to access
Needs a lot of direct sunlight
If you’re trying to set up motion sensor lights around your home on a tight budget, the HMCITY Outdoor 120 LED Solar Light is the best option. These lights are battery- and solar-powered, so you don’t need to pay for an electrician, and they’re also really easy to install. They aren’t the brightest lights on the market, but they’re affordable enough that you can put them exactly where you need light outside your home. These solar lights work best in areas where the solar panel will see a lot of sunlight throughout the day.
These HMCITY lights can sense motion within 26 feet, and they have a wide sensor range of 120 degrees. You can’t aim the sensor or lights after installation, but you can choose from three different lighting modes. You can set the light to come on for 15 seconds when it detects motion, stay on all night, or remain dimly lit all night and grow brighter when the sensor detects activity.
Best Wireless: LEPOWER Solar Security Light 1000LM
Bright for a battery-powered light
Separate solar panel
Solar panel cord isn’t very long
Range seems shorter than advertised
Only stays on up to two minutes in Auto mode
The LEPOWER Solar Security Light 1000LM is exceptionally bright for a solar-powered security light, and it’s battery-powered, so it’s a perfect fit wherever electricity isn’t available. The remote solar panel makes it a lot easier to keep the battery charged, and it has all the functionality and features of a more expensive hard-wired security light.
The problem with most solar security lights is that it’s challenging to keep them charged, but LEPOWER solved that problem. Instead of a built-in solar panel, this security light includes a separate panel with a 15-foot cord. While the cord isn’t very long, it allows you to mount the light where it needs to be, like under the eaves of your roof, and place the solar panel up on the roof where it will get the most sun. In automatic mode, the light stays on only for a maximum of 2 minutes, but you have the option of always-on mode, which can keep the lights on for 90 minutes when fully charged.
Best Design: Euri Lighting EFL-130W-MD Flickering Flame Lantern
Attractive oil-rubbed bronze lantern design
Switches from flickering flame to security light
Dusk-to-dawn motion sensor
Bottom open to the elements
The Euri Lighting EFL-130W-MD is in a completely different class from other security lights in terms of design. This security light takes the form of a flickering flame lantern, complete with an oil-rubbed bronze finish and your choice of frosted or water glass panels. It doesn’t look anything like other security lights, but it does get the job done. The drawback to the attractive design is that the bottom isn’t enclosed, though this lantern is wet-rated and safe for outdoor use. It also comes with an estimated 50,000-hour lifespan.
When the sun goes down, the lantern glows with a warm, flickering firelight effect reminiscent of a gas lamp. This dusk-to-dawn light activates when the sun goes down and stays on all night. When the sensor detects motion, it activates the main 1,200-lumen LED light and bathes the area in bright, white light.
Best Floodlights: SANSI 6000LM Super Bright LED Security Light
Enough light to illuminate a yard or driveway
Independently adjustable lights
Too bright for some applications
The two most important things to look for in a floodlight are brightness and the ability to direct the light exactly where you need it. The SANSI 6000LM Super Bright Security Light puts out an impressive 6,000 lumens, enough to flood your entire yard and driveway with light. It includes two arrays with three super-bright LEDs, and you can position each ray independently. You can rotate the lights up, down, in, or out to cover your property without bothering the neighbors.
This motion-sensing floodlight has a massive detection distance of up to 72 feet, and it’s able to sense motion in a 180-degree range. It features many adjustment options, including leaving the lights on for between 10 seconds and 10 minutes after each activation. If you need some extra security, the dusk-to-dawn mode keeps the lights on all night. The light also has an IP65 rating, which means it’s certified to stand up to the heaviest of rains.
Best Smart: Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor
Works with existing outdoor light fixtures
Integrates well with other smart-home devices
Requires Hue bulbs
No built-in lighting
The Philips Hue Dusk-to-Dawn motion sensor is a smart motion detector that can turn your existing outdoor light fixtures into motion-controlled lighting. It works by replacing the bulbs in your exterior light fixtures with Hue smart bulbs and then setting up the Philips Hue Dusk-to-Dawn sensor. The smart bulbs will then turn on whenever the Hue sensor detects motion. This system allows you to connect multiple sensors to cover various parts of the exterior of your home, and you can also set the sensors to activate smart outlets and other smart devices.
The downside is that this is just a sensor, not an all-in-one motion-sensing light. This model isn’t what you’re looking for if you just want to attach a motion-sensing light to your wall and call it a day. However, it’s an excellent option if you’re into smart home gear. It comes with many mounting options, so you can install it flush on a wall, a corner, or even on a freestanding pole, and it allows you to activate any compatible smart lights. With Hue, you can have more than a motion-sensing light for security. You can turn on all outdoor and indoor lights or even activate a smart speaker with a warning message.
Best Steps and Stairs: Mr Beams MB532 Motion-Sensing Step/Stair Light
Great amount of light for steps
Motion detection can be slow
Must remove batteries to access lighting options
Sometimes you need to flood an entire area with light, and other times it's better to provide just the right amount of light exactly where it's needed. Mr. Beams MB532 lights fit that second application perfectly, and they're ideal for outdoor steps and stairs. They aren't incredibly bright, but they provide just enough light to prevent tripping when it's dark out.
The Mr. Beams MB532 lights are battery-powered, so you can install them just about anywhere. In addition to stairs, they're also useful on outdoor walkways, porches, sheds, and other areas where you only need a little illumination. They're weatherproof, meaning you can use them outside in the elements, but there is no official IP rating. The biggest issue with these lights is that you need to remove the batteries to adjust lighting options, but that isn't something you should need to do often.
The LEONITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light is a flexible outdoor motion sensor light that’s easy to install, has a number of adjustable settings, and comes with a very affordable price tag. It puts out 1,800 lumens, which is plenty for most purposes, and it uses LEDs that are rated to last about 50,000 hours. If you’re interested in a wireless, solar-powered alternative, the LEPOWER Solar Security Light 1000LM offers impressive brightness and positioning flexibility thanks to the detached solar panel.
What to Look for in Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights
Range refers to how far away an object can be and still trigger the motion sensor. If a motion-sensing floodlight has a range of 20 feet and something moves around 25 feet away, it won’t turn on. Most motion sensor lights have fairly short ranges, which is why it’s a good idea to mount them in a way that an intruder would have to walk through the sensor’s field of vision instead or toward the light to get to your house.
The angle of a motion sensor refers to the area in front of the sensor that falls within its detection scope. If a sensor has an angle of 180 degrees, that means it can sense movement anywhere in front of it, as long as the movement is within range. Smaller angles result in smaller detection areas, so it’s important to always look for a large detection angle and account for the detection angle when installing a motion-sensing light.
The brightness of an outdoor motion sensor light has a strong effect on how large an area it can illuminate and how well it will light up that area. Wattage affects brightness, and many motion-sensing lights also have a lumens rating that tells you how bright it will be. For home use, the brightest you’ll want a motion-sensing floodlight to be is about 10,000 lumens.
Anything between 6,000 and 10,000 lumens is more than enough to light up a small yard and driveway, and that’s the brightest you’ll want to go in a residential area. According to Edward Jones from HomeCareHow, floodlights do just fine between 700 and 1,300 lumens, while motion-sensing lights for steps can be between 12 and 100 lumens, and pathways should be lit with between 100 and 200 lumens.
How do motion sensors work?
There are a lot of different kinds of motion sensors, but the ones built into motion-detecting outdoor lights sense heat or infrared radiation. These sensors pick up the heat from warm objects like people, animals, and vehicles and recognize obstructions of background objects within their field of view by objects that emit different levels of infrared radiation. In addition to an infrared motion sensor, most motion-sensing outdoor lights also use a photosensor to prevent the light from turning on during daylight hours.
Where should I install outdoor motion sensor lights?
The best position to install outdoor motion sensor lights depends on the purpose of the lights. If you’re installing lights for security reasons, they should be installed as high up as possible, at least six to 10 feet above the ground, and they should be bright enough to illuminate the entire surrounding area.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure you don’t place the sensor near any potential obstructions, like tree branches. You can install other motion-sensing lights just above stair risers, above your garage door, along a walkway, or near your front porch to provide light in specific situations.
How long do motion sensor lights last?
The operational lifespan of your motion sensor lights will depend on the light source you select. LED bulbs last the longest, followed by fluorescent bulbs, and then incandescents burn out the fastest. “I recommend LED motion sensor lights for longevity,” says Jones. “LED lights will last up to 50,000 hours.”
Since motion sensor lights don’t remain on all the time, LED lights can easily last 20+ years before they burn out, as long as nothing else malfunctions. Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs don’t last as long, with incandescent lasting about 1,000 hours and fluorescent lasting up to 10,000 hours. You can expect to replace incandescent motion sensor bulbs every year or so, and you may get up to 10 years out of fluorescent lights.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Jeremy Laukkonen, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. He’s had experience installing and using motion sensor lights around his own homes and business for over 20 years. In addition to The Spruce, his reviews can be found in other outlets, including Lifewire and DigitalTrends.
Relying on firsthand experience, tests performed by The Spruce, and research, Jeremy considered ease of use and installation, brightness, detection range and angle, and several other factors to identify the best outdoor motion sensor lights. To gain a better understanding of what to look for in outdoor motion sensor lights, Jeremy also spoke with Edward Jones, a home lighting expert and founder of HomeCareHow. Using those expert insights into the best brightness for different applications and different use cases for outdoor motion-sensing lights, he was able to identify the best general use lights and great options for specific areas like pathways and stairs.