How to reset motion sensor lights

Updated March 23, 2017

Motion sensor lights, which automatically turn on when someone is within the sensor's range, are effective security additions to the exterior of a home. Because they detect radiant heat coming from an object, a variety of agents---including leaves and small animals---can trigger the motion sensor. Resetting the sensor is therefore at times necessary to ensure the lights work properly.

Locate the switch next to your motion detector lights, turn it off for at least 30 seconds and then turn it back on. This usually resets the sensor on most models. Some models may require keeping the switch off for at least an hour. Refer to your manual if you are unsure how long to keep your motion detector lights off.

Locate the circuit breakers inside your home if the previous procedure did not reset your motion detector lights. The circuit breakers are usually inside an electrical panel in the basement, attic or utility room. Once you locate the circuit breaker switches, turn them off for at least 30 seconds and then turn them back on to reset your motion sensor lights.

Locate the switch on your motion sensor and set it in the "TEST" position. This switch is usually located on the bottom of your motion sensor. Using a screwdriver, locate the sensitivity adjustment lever and move it to the "MEDIUM" level. If the sensitivity adjustment is not marked with levels, turn the screw to the halfway position.

Check the switch on the wall next to your motion sensor lights and make sure it is on. The lights will go on for 30 seconds and then go off.

Move the motion detector head to the area you wish to detect movement. Check the bulbs. If any of them are loose, rotate them clockwise to tighten them. Stand at the farthest point of the detection area to see if the lights are activated.

Check the lamp position if the light or lights go off while the detector is in the "TEST" mode. Move the lamps and aim them away from the detector. Do not allow the lamps to be closer than a 1/2 inch from the detector. Angle the lamp holders slightly downward to avoid having them fill with water during rainy seasons. If the lamp holders fill with water, it can cause a short circuit and diminish your motion sensor's efficiency.

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About the Author

Kefa Olang has been writing articles online since April 2009. He has been published in the "Celebration of Young Poets" and has an associate degree in communication and media arts from Dutchess Community College, and a bachelor's degree in broadcasting and mass communication from the State University of New York, Oswego.