How Do Motion Sensor Lights Work?

How Do Motion Sensor Lights Work for my Home?

exterior motion lights
Continuous innovation in the world of lighting has led to the creation of motion sensor lights.

These lights are unique, modernistic, and exciting for property owners in commercial/residential settings. They are often seen in various settings (indoor and outdoor) illustrating their value as professional lighting solutions.

However, there’s one question that continues to pop up and that’s, “How do motion sensor lights work?” and you will find the answer in this detailed read.

Motion sensor lights include the use of a “motion detector” and are a set of automated lights.

These lights include robust motion-sensing technology to detect movement in the target area. Once the sensor is tripped, the light turns on/off. These lights offer a unique solution compared to the manual lighting systems.

How Do Motion Sensor Lights Operate?

The basic understanding is these lights are triggered as soon as movement is detected.

To dig a bit deeper, the lights come with targeted motion detecting hardware that’s able to spot infrared waves (i.e. heat waves) that come from moving objects. The human body emits these heat waves as do most living organisms and that’s what the detectors look for. As soon as the heat waves are picked up, the light turns on to brighten the area. All of this is done with the help of small electronic eyes built into the lighting system. It’s also important to note, the lights can also detect cars and will turn on as soon as one comes in its field of view.

In general, these lights tend to stay on for a set duration of 1-20 minutes depending on the settings. This can be adjusted based on what the property owner requires. All of these settings can be established during the installation phase. The timer acts as an internal switch and will immediately shut the lights off unless it’s reset with movement. At a scientific level, the motion sensor is designed to work during the night and will use a photocell to stop illumination in the daytime. It uses a unique semicircular field of view that is able to work at a set distance (up to 60-70 feet). In some cases, this range can be increased based on the sensor’s power output metrics. This type of light can work indoors or outdoors while still picking up on movement from dogs, people, or even a regular car. If it is super sensitive, it will even pick up items being blown around by the wind.

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Let’s assume a property owner doesn’t like the idea of super sensitive lights that are triggered by blowing papers. What happens then? Based on modern settings, the right solution is to go ahead and make adjustments to the light’s range. The installer can take a look at the light’s field of view and make sure it remains with a set location (i.e. pathway, driveway) instead of veering past that spot. This makes it a tighter field of view and far more manageable for both you and your neighbors. It’s highly recommended to go out and take a look at purchasing customizable sensors so these settings can be tweaked from time to time (i.e. aimed detector units).

What if a person wants to keep the light on while they’re standing outside?

This happens all the time and has been kept in mind while making the design. For example, if you are standing outside and want to keep the light on, there is an overriding switch (similar to a traditional light) that can be turned on. This will immediately deactivate the “motion sensing” feature until the switch is turned back off.

Indoor and Outdoor Use

One of the great features of motion detecting lights is that they have a wide range of applications, both inside and outside your property. Here are a few places where motion lighting can be a better option than traditional lights:

  1. Swimming Pools
  2. Walkways/Pathways
  3. Driveways
  4. Stairways
  5. Fences
  6. Entrances
  7. Patios
  8. Decks

The most common use of these lights is seen when they’re put at the front of a commercial/residential property. In most cases, the lights are directed towards a specific entrance, stairway, fence, or driveway by the property owner. This makes it easier for the lights to get triggered as soon as you make your way to the entrance. Some property owners like using them for their backyard (patio, deck, swimming pool) to make sure everything is safe from the back entrance too.

It’s important to speak to a specialist and make sure the light’s field of view incorporates all entrances. This should include any movement coming towards the property from a set range (60-70 feet). It’s best to think about potential dark spots near the property that has to be illuminated as soon as movement is detected. This can help position the lights and sensors. While this isn’t a replacement for other security options, it does help offer value in the long-run.

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Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, property owners are told to hang the lights at a set height of 6-10 feet. This can make it easier to detect movement and illuminate key spots around the property. This is also the recommended height for detecting all types of movement. If you are thinking about using current lighting fixtures then it’s best to go out and purchase a customized remote motion sensor to pick up on movement away from the field of view. This can help increase the distance and fill in potential gaps. This isn’t difficult to manage and can increase the value of your lights.

Benefits of Motion Sensor Lights

1) Prevents Crime

The reason property owners (especially commercial owners) tend to invest in these lights as to do with criminal activity. If there are valuable assets inside the property then it makes sense to keep them protected at all costs.

No one wants to foot the bill for a robbery nor do you want to deal with that issue.

The same applies to a residential property, which is why these lights act as a wonderful deterrent. If necessary, these can be paired with a CCTV system to make sure everything is captured once movement is detected.

2) Eco-Friendly

Based on studies done with these lights, they are far more eco-friendly than traditional options.

This has to do with their ability to automatically turn on/off without needing to be toggled with. You can be rest assured if there’s movement, the light is going to turn or and off on its own. This is far simpler than having to remember to toggle the switch.

Not only is it eco-friendly but it is also great for saving money on your electricity bill. Less electricity is used during the month.

3) Increases Durability of Bulb(s)

Changing the bulbs is a frustrating task especially when it is set at a higher height.

This is why going with an automated solution makes sense since it is not going to waste electricity. The bulb will be able to last longer as it is not going to be run into the ground. Traditional bulbs tend to get wasted quickly because they’re kept on for longer than necessary.

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With motion sensing technology, these bulbs are able to last for as long as they need to and will still work well as the days pass by. This is a good “set it and forget it” solution for property owners, especially in commercial settings.

4) Doesn’t Require a Switch

The idea of automating your lighting is exciting and something property owners prefer.

Turning the light on/off can become difficult when there are multiple people involved (commercial properties) and it’s smarter to automate everything. The motion sensors take care of everything and ensure the lights work at all times.

This is something property owners can take advantage of in the long-term. Put in the lights, set the timer, and watch as the system runs seamlessly. It’s one of the biggest advantages of removing traditional lights and going with this system.

5) Can Be Used Anywhere

You are looking at lights that can be used indoors or outdoors without a problem.

The motion detecting technology can pick up heat waves in any setting and that makes it easier to install. By maximizing its field of view, a property owner can make sure the property or land is illuminated appropriately.

A solution that can be used anywhere is far more exciting than something that is reserved for a select few spots. This is why motion sensing technology is used around the world and is adored by millions of people. It’s convenient, fast-acting, and simple to set up.

6) Reliable

Reliability is the name of the game with any type of light.

You want to set up the lights and keep them there without doing maintenance. Motion sensing technology is refined and isn’t going to break down on you. It will last and that reliability is a major plus point in favor of these lights.

Property owners can trust the lights to work well throughout the night without having to fiddle around with the settings.

This is what motion sensor lights are all about and why they have become such a popular option in the world of lighting. It’s a brilliant solution for any property owner.

About Charles Ingram

Hi, I am Charles your local Home Tech and Gadget Expert. I’ve been fascinated with electricity for as long as I can remember. I grew up in an old home in a rural setting, so the quality and continuity of our electrical service were spotty at best. Spending time without power (or running off a generator) gave me a lot of appreciation for the benefits of electricity. I love writing and talking about it.

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