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How To Add A Motion Sensor To Existing Outdoor Lights

Outside Porch Light

When you purchased your home, you may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to pick out just the right outdoor light fixtures. Perhaps you even found yourself battling an inner conflict: function or beauty? If you purchased lights that don’t have an attached motion sensor, don’t fret. It is possible to add motion to existing outdoor lights. Doing so is simple, in fact, you can even add motion detection without performing one ounce of wiring.

Why Have an Outdoor Motion Sensor?

There are several benefits to motion activated outdoor light fixtures. First, outdoor lights with built-in or added motion sensors can make your life easier. If you’ve ever struggled in the dark to find the right key, all while balancing an arm full of groceries, and perhaps even a crying baby. Coming home to a dark front porch is troublesome, especially if you live on a street without street lights.

A more important benefit of a motion activated light is home security. Ackerman Security notes that cameras and other types of surveillance equipment are the chief deterrents for burglars, with a visible security sign also making their top 10 list.1 US News and World Report also explains that motion sensors are a key factor in warding off potential unwanted guests.2 If you have an outdoor camera installed, great! But if it lacks night vision, it’s doing you little good in the dark. And your security system yard sign is doing little good while sitting in the dark next to the bushes. A motion activated light can act as a burglar deterrent on its own, but it can also support outdoor cameras and even shed light on your security sign.

You could, of course, simply leave your outdoor lights on when you’re not home, but that costs money (a 150-watt outdoor flood light running for 8 hours would cost you around $52 a year3). Not to mention you would contribute to the problematic issue of light pollution that prevents so many city and suburb dwellers from actually seeing the stars at night.4

Bulb motion

Simplest Method: Install a Motion Sensor Light Bulb

Technology is a fantastic thing. When it comes to motion sensor technology, someone, somewhere, thought out this genius device: motion sensor light bulbs.

These bulbs are an easy and efficient way to get motion sensing ability to your existing outdoor lights with little effort.

Here’s how they work:

The light bulb has a built-in Passive Infrared Sensor. In the picture below, you can see a small nub at the top of the bulb; this is the sensor.

These sensors can detect anything that emits a heat signature. As long as you’re alive (if you’re reading this, we’ll assume you are), your body is constantly emitting heat. That heat is detected by the PIR sensor as infrared light. Once you come within the preset range for the light’s sensor, it will turn the light on.

If this sounds like the best solution for you, we recommend one of the three bulbs below. All three bulbs can turn on/off based on motion sensing.

  1. QPAU E27 7W 14 LED Light Bulb with PIR Motion Sensor Check Price on Amazon
  2. iRainy E27 LED Infrared Motion Detection Light Sensor Check Price on Amazon
  3. Sky Genius Motion Sensor LED Light Bulb Check Price on Amazon

Best Combo Method: Motion Sensor + SmartPhone Control + Camera

For those without a security camera outdoors or a motion-activated light, there are very few options out there for you. One of the best, and easiest to install is the text.

Here’s how it works:

Toucan Outdoor Security Camera

The Toucan comes with two pieces: a motion sensing camera and a USB power adapter. The USB power adapter screws into your outdoor light fixture socket just like a light bulb would. It draws power from this source, and it’s able to keep the included camera charged and ready to go.

This system is an all-inclusive home security camera. Not only can it turn any light fixture into a motion activated light, but the Toucan also includes HD live video feeds, a two-way intercom, a 100 dBA siren, 2-hours worth of cloud storage, IP44 weather resistance, instant mobile notifications, and more. And bonus, you can install it in just 15 minutes.

The light itself it a smart light. You can set it to respond to motion, or you can control it from anywhere using the included mobile app.

You can purchase this device for under $199.

Best Solution For Those That Love Their Light Bulbs: Try a Screw-in Motion Sensor Switch

This method is surprisingly simple and very similar to the Kuna Toucan, or to installing a PIR light bulb. These devices, which come in various shapes and sizes, all work with the same idea in mind. They allow you to keep your light fixture AND your light bulb while adding in a motion sensor.

For example, the Defiant Indoor 120 Degree Motion Sensing Socket:

Defiant - Outdoor Security Lighting

Look familiar? It should. It’s very similar to the USB Power Adapter included with the Kuna Toucan, only without the added benefit of a security camera device. Simply unscrew your light bulb, plug this in, and then screw your light bulb back in. Voila! A simple, effective, motion sensor for your existing outdoor lights.

Many PIR sockets are rated for indoor use only. The Defiant, for example, is listed as an indoor device. However, most users tend to put this one outdoors, and the company that makes it markets it as an anti-theft device, hinting that it has outdoor potential as well. Our second recommendation, LUXON Motion Sensor Light Socket Adapter, is specifically listed as suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

If this sounds like the solution for you, we recommend one of these two devices.

  1. Defiant Indoor 120 Degree Motion Sensing Socket
  2. LUXON Motion Sensor Light Socket Adapter

What do you think? Which solution sounds like the best for you?

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