Trouble with motion sensor lights

Trouble with motion sensor lights may be caused by incorrect set-up or location. Motion detector lights have a sensor built into them that makes them turn on if there is any movement or change in temperature within range of the sensor. Lights that face reflective surfaces or floodlights or are mounted near a heat source may not work correctly. You can set the light to work only at night and control the length of time it stays on, its range of detection and the sensitivity of the sensor.

Verify that your light has been installed correctly and wired by a qualified electrician and is mounted on a standard electrical junction box, at least 6 feet above ground. Consider relocating the light if it is facing a pool or window or if it is above an air conditioner or vent that may produce heat. Turn off any floodlights that shine directly onto the sensor.

Test the light when it is dark outside to see if the sensor is working. Have someone walk past repeatedly. If the lights do not come on, change the bulb and test again. Make certain the power outlet or switch is on. If the light comes on in daylight reset the light detector setting for evening. If the light does not come on at all you may need to replace the sensor.

Adjust the sensitivity setting if the lights are too sensitive and come on too easily until you are comfortable with the response.The manufacturer's handbook will explain how to do this or you may be able to locate the control on your light.

Set the time delay to suit your preferences. This controls how long you want the light to stay on each time it is triggered.

Adjust the range of detection. Walk in front of the light to trigger it then move outward to a point where you want it to stop. Set the range adjustment using the setting dial according to the manufacturer's instructions. This will stop the light from coming on when the neighbours' dog runs around in its yard.

Turn off the light at the power source and leave it off long enough for the bulb to cool if after a power failure your motion sensor light to stays on continuously without switching off. Once it has been on for too long the heat it generates will keep triggering the sensor. Turn it on and off and on again rapidly. If it stays off you have fixed the problem. If not, you may have to repeat the process. If you cannot get the light to go off you may need to replace your sensor.


To troubleshoot in daylight hours, change the settings so that the sensor will work in daylight, expand the range by setting it on maximum and set the time delay at minimum. Do not direct the sensor directly into the sun.

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About the Author

Trish Jackson is an author, blogger and freelance writer. Her second romantic suspense novel, "Redneck P.I.," was released in March 2011. Jackson particularly likes to write articles relating to life in the country, animals and home projects and has kept a blog focusing on this since 2006.