How to Adjust the Motion Sensor on an Outside Light

Updated March 23, 2017

Sufficient exterior lighting is a major component of a good security system. If a bright, unexpected floodlight comes on during a potential break-in, it's likely to startle a would-be burglar and send him running. Outdoor flood lights can be controlled by sensors and triggered whenever movement is detected. These lights are easily adjusted to control the range and sensitivity desired.

Ensure that the light's circuit is powered and that the wall switch is flipped "on."

Aim the sensor head found on the light so that the sensor's field of vision provides good coverage to the area you want to detect movement in.

Turn the screws on the arm that supports the sensor with a wrench or pliers to tighten and secure it in the desired spot.

Locate the "on-time" switch, usually located on the bottom of the motion sensor and slide it to the "test" position.

Locate the sensitivity adjustment, if there is one on the unit, and set it to "medium."

Position yourself or a friend in front of the sensor and move in order to trigger the light and test the position.

Shorten the detector's range length, if desired, by aiming the head of the sensor downward. Shorten the sensor's detection width by adjusting the range dial.

Fine-tune and adjust the range as necessary.

Slide switch to the "on" position after you have adjusted the sensitivity to your liking.


Keep the sensor head at least 1 inch from light bulbs and lamp covers. Test and adjust the light at night for best results.

Things You'll Need

  • Outdoor motion detector or sensor light
  • Step ladder
  • Wrench
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About the Author

Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.