How to install a security light outside

Written by robert vaux
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How to install a security light outside
Security lights are tripped by a motion sensor. (Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Security lights help keep a home safe by lighting up your garden or path whenever anyone approaches. They can also be useful when you come home late at night and have to fit your key into the lock while it's pitch black. Security lights typically consist of two parts: the light itself and the motion detector that activates it. Ideally, you should allow a professional security expert to install a security light for you. But if you have some basic electrical knowledge and want to save a little money, you can install an outdoor security light yourself.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Security light
  • Motion detector
  • Voltmeter
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire connectors

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  1. 1

    Shut off the power to the outdoor electrical socket you wish to use by tripping the pertinent circuit breaker in your fuse box.

  2. 2

    Unscrew any existing bulbs in your chosen outlet and test the circuits with a voltmeter to make sure there is no electricity flowing through them. Disconnect the wires from the existing bulbs and note which wire is connected to which.

  3. 3

    Detach any bulbs from the security light's socket. They make it more difficult to wire the socket correctly.

  4. 4

    Use wire connectors to link the outlet wires to the security light's socket, and to the wires from the motion detector that triggers it. Like wires should be bound with like: The live wire from the light should be connected to both the live wire from the motion detector and the live wire from the outlet. The neutral wires should be connected the same way. The ground wire should remain connected to the grounding bar in the outlet. If your security light socket has a ground wire of its own, detach it from the box and connect it to the grounding bar in the outlet.

  5. 5

    Slide the wiring back into the outlet and mount the light's face plate onto the outlet. Secure it in place with screws, then screw the light bulb itself in.

  6. 6

    Position the motion detector beneath the light, pointing it in the direction you want covered, then screw it on to the mounting plate. Check your instruction manual to determine the exact distance it covers and how "sensitive" its sensor is. You may need to adjust it several times before it works exactly the way you need it to.

  7. 7

    Go back to the fuse box and restore power to the light, then test it to see if it works.

Tips and warnings

  • Wiring is often colour-coded to help you keep track of which is which. The live wire is typically black, the neutral wire is typically white and the ground wire is typically either green or bare copper. The exact colours may vary in your house, but live wires should always connect to live and neutral wires should always connect to neutral.
  • Do-it-yourselfers should always use existing electrical sockets for their outdoor security lights. If you need to run electrical wiring to your chosen location, hire a professional contractor.

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