How to Install Outdoor Security Lights

Updated February 21, 2017

Outdoor security lights help make your home safer while also making it more energy efficient. This type of specialised lighting only turns on when someone walks within range of the motion sensor. When there's no activity, the light remains off and in daytime it doesn't come on at all. Outdoor security lights are wonderful at keeping away intruders, be they human or four-footed, and installing motion-activated security lights really isn't that difficult.

Choose which outdoor light you want to replace with a motion activated type. Turn off the breaker for that light.

Remove bulbs and disassemble the existing fixture. Before you disconnect the wires, use the touch-type voltage tester to make sure the circuit is off. Press the button on the tester and hold the tip of it against the black wire coming out of the wall box. If the tester beeps or lights up, the circuit is still live. Try other breakers until you get the correct one. Once you have it, disconnect the fixture wires from the wall wires.

Open the new security light. The motion sensor should be pre-wired. It should have a black wire, a white wire and a ground wire to connect to the feed circuit.

Check wires to see if any need to be stripped of insulation. Use the wire strippers to remove 3/4-inch of insulation if necessary.

Make sure you set the weatherproof grommet on the fixture before you make your wire connections. The grommet ensures that water doesn't get into the box with the wires.

Connect the fixture's ground wire to the circuit's ground wire, or if there isn't one available, use the ground screw in the wall box.

Connect the white fixture wire with the white circuit wire using a wire connector. Wrap electrical tape around the connection.

Connect the black fixture wire with the black circuit wire using a wire connector. Wrap electrical tape around the connection.

Tuck all wires into the box and secure the security light using the bolts that were provided with it. Once it is secure, install bulbs and adjust the settings on the motion sensor.

Turn the breaker back on and test your light. When you turn the breaker on, the light should come on for a few seconds; if it light outside, it will turn off automatically.


Never work on an electrical circuit while it is still on. Always practice safety and turn it off at the breaker.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire strippers
  • Touch-type voltage tester
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire connectors
  • Outdoor security light with motion sensor
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About the Author

Based in Atco, NJ, Dave Donovan has been a full-time writer for over five years. His articles are featured on hundreds of websites, and have landed him in two nationally published books "If I Had a Hammer: More Than 100 Easy Fixes and Weekend Projects" by Andrea Ridout and "How to Cheat at Home Repair" by Jeff Brendenberg.