How to adjust the time on an outdoor light sensor

Updated February 21, 2017

Outdoor lighting provides illumination for security and safety when installed near driveways and sidewalks. A motion sensor detects movement and activates a switch that turns on the light. The duration of time the light stays on is controlled by an adjustment made on the sensor unit. Some units are adjustable in a range from 10 seconds to 12 minutes and can be set by hand. You can set the time on your outdoor lighting sensor with no previous electrical experience required.

Locate the time duration adjustment knob on the light sensor. This may require the use of a ladder. If your sensor is near electrical power lines, make sure you use a non-metallic ladder.

Check the sensor time adjustment for increase or decrease symbols. Some have a circular pattern that increases in width, the widest representing the longer time period to sustain lighting, while others have a plus sign (+) and a minus sign (-) with increments in between.

Turn the time-adjustment knob to select the time you wish the light to remain on. If the actual time duration is indicated on the knob, the job is completed. If not, then the time must be adjusted through the process of trial and error.

Cut several strips of electrical tape with scissors and place them over the light sensor. This simulates darkness and makes the switch activate the light.

Set the adjustment knob in a position that best represents the desired time period for the light to remain on. Observe the length of time the light stays on with a watch or clock with a sweep-second hand. Continue to make small adjustments until you are satisfied with the time period.

Remove the tape from the sensor.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Electrical tape
  • Scissors
  • Watch or clock with sweep-second hand
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About the Author

Max Stout began writing in 2000 and started focusing primarily on non-fiction articles in 2008. Now retired, Stout writes technical articles with a focus on home improvement and maintenance. Previously, he has worked in the vocational trades such as automotive, home construction, residential plumbing and electric, and industrial wire and cable. Max also earned a degree of biblical metaphysician from Trinity Seminars Ministry Academy.