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Whether you’re looking to illuminate your driveway or swimming pool, motion sensor lighting is a must when it comes to security and safety on your property at night. If you’re not in the know, movement triggers lights like these, so they work best in areas that don’t require continuous illumination.
The trick to buying the best make and model for your household needs is knowing what’s available. The most popular types were designed to brighten the areas outside of garages and also doorways. Additional options are used to light up potentially dangerous spots such as walkways and stairways.
To help you navigate the large sea of lighting choices, here are the best motion sensor lights available now.
Best Overall: LEONLITE LED Security Lights Motion Sensor Flood Light Outdoor
Durable and bright
Can detect motion up to 70 feet away
Can withstand harsh weather
Flimsy foam gasket
When choosing the right security lights for your home, there are many factors to consider before making a purchase. You'll want to think about the design, brightness, light range, and reactiveness. If you're looking to invest in a lasting product, one of the best security lights available today is the LEONLITE 20-W LED Dusk to Dawn Outdoor Security Flood Light with Motion Sensor. It's durable, bright, and can detect motion up to 70 feet away.
This two-headed fixture lets you angle the lights in whatever direction you choose, and the ultra-bright LED bulbs will ensure you can always see what’s going on in the backyard. The light comes with three operation modes: manual, auto, and dusk to dawn. If you want this to act as a conventional security light, you'll want to utilize auto mode. When it’s on auto mode, the lights will turn on when the sensor detects motion and you can set how long it stays lit before shutting itself off. Because this has an IP65 waterproof rating it can withstand harsh weather conditions, but it comes with a five-year warranty in case you have any issues.
Best Budget: LITOM Original Solar Lights
Run off solar power with a battery backup
Wider motion detector range than most competitors
Solar powered system may not be as reliable
If you need to install a number of motion sensor lights outside your home, you may be looking for a low-cost option—and this pick will help you with your goals. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing light, but it’s highly functional and won’t put a dent in your wallet.
These lights run off of solar power with a battery backup, so you don’t have to wire them into your home. They’re outfitted with 24 LED lights that have an illumination range of 270 degrees, which is 50 percent wider than most competitors. The fixture has a motion sensor that can detect movement up to 26 feet away, and the lights are heat-proof and waterproof, so you can mount them on your garage or another uncovered area. Another benefit is the high-efficiency solar panel which helps them charge up faster than normal solar lights. Although solar power is great, it still potentially may not be as reliable as other options.
Best LED: Sengled Snap Integrated 60-Watt HD Camera Outdoor LED Floodlight Lighting
Can easily transform standard fixtures into motion-activated lights
Easy to install
Runs in the daylight
No option for duration or sensor direction
If you already have an outdoor light fixture, you can make it motion-activated with the Sengled LED Light Bulbs. These innovative bulbs have built-in motion sensors that let you easily transform standard fixtures into motion-activated lights.
These LED light bulbs are energy efficient and long-lasting, saving you money on both electricity and replacement bulbs. They have a built-in motion sensor that detects movement up to 30 feet away, and they’ll automatically turn on for 90 seconds. They’re easy to install—just treat them like regular light bulbs—and you can safely place them outdoors as they’re wet-rated. According to reviewers, these LED motion-sensing bulbs are durable and efficient, and they’re a great option for anyone who wants to upgrade an existing light fixture.
"When installing this bulb on a circuit that’s operated by a switch, keep in mind that the switch has to remain on in order for the motion sensor light to work. More than once, we thought the light wasn’t functioning properly only to realize we had flipped the switch at some point, either out of habit or on accident."—Justin Park, Product Tester
Best Design: Hampton Bay Bayside Mission 150° Motion-Sensing Outdoor Wall Lantern Sconce
Oil-rubbed bronze finish
Can also function as a standard light fixture
Great for any outdoor aesthetic
Must buy the bulbs separately
Many motion-sensor lights are quite utilitarian, with a plain design and limited color offerings. If you’re looking for outdoor lights to put on your porch or to act as landscape lighting, however, you can opt for something more visually appealing. In this case, we recommend the Heath-Zenith Mission-Style Security Light, which comes with a beautiful exterior that will match just about any decor.
These light fixtures have an oil-rubbed bronze finish and seeded glass that makes them a classic addition to the exterior of your home. They detect motion up to 30 feet away at 150 degrees, and you can use them with 60-watt incandescent bulbs (which you have to buy separately). Once the light is on, you can choose whether it shuts off after one, five, or 10 minutes. It also has a manual override that allows it to function as a standard light fixture, as well.
Best Flood Lights: Defiant 270° White Motion Activated Outdoor Integrated LED Triple Head Flood Light
Casts light in a 270-degree detection zone
Adjustable color temperature
Powered by long-lasting, energy-saving LED lights
Easy to install
Color may be too harsh for some
Floodlights are typically brighter and cast a wider path of light than standard outdoor lights, and if you want to illuminate your whole yard, the Defiant Motion-Activated Outdoor Triple-Head Flood Light is an unbeatable product. This light has three lamp heads and casts light in a 270-degree detection zone, so you can see everything that’s happening in your yard.
This flood light has several unique features, including an adjustable color temperature, which allows you to choose whether you want a cool or warm light. The light is powered by bright LEDs that will last for years and save energy, and the motion detector can sense motion up to 70 feet away, making it ideal for those with larger yards. Plus, it’s marketed as easy to install by DIYers, with just three steps.
Best Wireless: Mr. Beams Outdoor UltraBright 400 Lumen Battery Powered Motion Activated Integrated LED Spotlight
Easy to install
Turns off after 20 seconds to conserve battery
Battery-operated lights are less reliable
Electrical wiring can be quite confusing, so you may prefer to buy a wireless light that’s easier to install. In this case, one of the best products you can buy is the Mr Beams Outdoor LED Ultra Bright Spot Light, a motion-activated fixture that runs on four D-batteries.
This motion-activated LED spotlight can detect movement up to 40 feet away, automatically turning on its bulbs, which illuminate areas up to 400 square feet. The light turns off after 20 seconds to conserve battery power, and based on an average use of eight to ten activations per day, your batteries should last for about a year. This spotlight installs in a matter of minutes with the included mounting hardware, and the weatherproof design allows you to place it anywhere around your yard, garage, porch, or deck.
Best Flush Mount: Heath-Zenith 360° 4-Light Black Motion Activated Octagonal Ceiling Light
Will match with traditional and contemporary decor
Easy to install
Feels a bit low-quality considering the price
Many motion sensor lights are designed to be mounted on the wall, but there are also some ceiling- or flush-mounted options, including the highly rated Heath-Zenith 4-Light Octagonal Flush Mount Light. It has a weather-resistant finish that allows you to mount it in a damp area, such as a porch, and it will match well with both traditional and contemporary decor.
This flush-mounted light uses three incandescent bulbs, and the octagon frame features a frosted glass shade that gives off uniform illumination. It also includes a 360-degree motion sensor that detects movement up to 30 feet away, and you can hardwire it to a switch if you want to manually control it. Reviewers say this motion-sensing ceiling light is easy to install and has a nice design, but a few customers mention that it feels a bit low-quality considering the price point.
Location The spot where you plan to put your motion sensor light often dictates which one is the best fit. If you’re putting it on the porch, you may want a wall- or ceiling-mounted unit, while a light on the garage often benefits from having dual-headed sensors. There are also stake-style lights that are perfect for walkways and other areas of your yard.
Wiring Think about whether you’d prefer a hard-wired motion sensor light or a battery-powered unit. Hard-wired products are generally more complicated to install, but you won’t ever need to change the battery. On the other hand, battery-powered units can be placed anywhere and are usually much easier to install.
Design Depending on where your motion sensor light is located, you may want to consider how important its design is to you. Some units look like standard outdoor lights and will match your home’s aesthetic, while other products are more plain and utilitarian.