What exactly is Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting?
Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting is simply outdoor lighting that is controlled by photo sensitive cells.
The sensors are designed to detect movement/motion. Once movement is detected the lights are automatically switched on. The range of detection, and the amount of time that the lights remain lit, can be controlled by the home owner.
Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights are designed to work only during the hours or darkness.
Options to Consider when Choosing Outdoor Lighting
When I was looking at ways to improve my home security one of the first things that I considered was improving the lighting around my property. The property I live in is situated in a small village. The property is not exactly isolated but there is not the density of housing that you would find in a town or city. The street lighting is also virtually none existent. Consequently after the hours of darkness it would be relatively easy for someone to walk around the outside of the property undetected.
I did some research and discovered that there were basically two options available to me.
The first option was to install light fixtures around the property that could simply be switched on as required. The switching could be done manually or be controlled by a timer.
As an alternative to totally manual switching the lighting could be controlled by a dusk to dawn sensor. The on/off function of the light is then controlled by the amount of light reaching a photo sensitive cell. When the available light drops to a certain level in the evening the lights turn themselves on. When the natural light increases at dawn the lights automatically turn themselves off again.
The second option available to me was outdoor motion sensor lighting.
After some consideration I decided that outdoor motion sensor lighting would suit my needs much better.
What made me decide to install Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting?
There were a number of reasons that influenced my decision.
I was going to be fitting low level lighting (low wattage bulbs) so the cost of having the lights burning all night would not be a financial burden.
I could not however think of any actual benefit to be gained from having the lights permanently on.
In fact having, being a light sleeper, lights burning outside the bedroom windows all night could in fact make sleeping more difficult.
The lights were being fitted purely as a deterrent to ‘would be burglars’ not as a feature of the house!
I suppose it is possible that any potential burglar might, at first glance, assume that there was no lighting and his activities would be undetected. However once he got within range of the motion sensors the lighting would turn itself on. At this point he would become illuminated and hopefully quickly move on to potentially easier pickings.Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting can of course be used as part of a broader Home Security Strategy which may include CCTV Cameras, Improved Door Locking Mechanisms and Security Door Jammers.
What is the Cost of Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting?
The cost of motion sensor lights for your home will depend on a number of factors.
How Many Outdoor Light Fittings will you Require?
The style of your house will determine the number of Light Fittings that you will require to illuminate your property effectively.
In my case I required a total of five light fittings to provide the right amount of lighting for my home. Obviously as the fittings are priced individually the more fittings you buy the more the total cost will be.
The cost of each fitting will also depend on the style and brand you choose. In general terms you should expect to pay anything from about $20.00 each for Wired Outdoor Motion Sensor Light Fittings.
Is Installing Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights Difficult?
If you are fitting outdoor motion sensor lighting from scratch and need to integrate it with your home electrical wiring then the installation is best left to a professional electrician.
If you are simply replacing existing switched outdoor lighting with Motion Sensor Activated Lights then you may well be able to fit them yourself. There are generally fairly comprehensive wiring diagrams and instructions supplied with the light fittings that most competent DIY enthusiasts can follow.
However if you are in any doubt seek the help of a professional!
Solar Powered Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights
As an alternative to wired lighting you could always choose the solar powered alternative.
Installing Solar Powered Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights is extremely straightforward and requires absolutely no electrical knowledge whatsoever.
There is no wiring to install. It is simply a matter of attaching the lighting units to the walls of your house in the required position.
As mentioned above I had already fitted five Motion Sensor Lights around the perimeter of my home. I did however install one additional solar powered motion sensor light.
Although the five lights that I installed do an excellent job I felt that a little extra illumination in the font porch would be beneficial. As there was no wiring in the porch Solar Powered Motion Sensor Lighting provided a quick, easy and inexpensive solution.
Solar Powered Motion Sensor Outdoor Lighting is fitted with an internal rechargeable battery. The battery contains enough power for the lights to work throughout the night. The small solar panel attached to the lighting unit then recharges batteries during the daytime.
The instructions on the units I bought suggested that the light units should be placed in direct sunlight for 3 days, with the switch in the ‘off position’, before being sited to put the initial charge into the batteries.
Once installed Solar Powered outdoor motion sensor lighting works in an almost identical manner to traditionally wired lighting.
The sensitivity of the motion sensor can be pre-set. The units are also equipped with a light intensity sensor that ensures the lights only work between the hours of dusk and dawn.
The life expectancy of Solar Powered outdoor motion sensor lighting is likely to be less than the life expectancy of traditional lighting. The ones that I purchased were also fitted with a none replaceable (integrated) LED bulb. Obviously once the bulb ceases to function the whole unit becomes useless. This is not as bad as it might at first seem as the life expectancy of these types of integrated bulbs is between 25,000 and 30,000 hours.
The rechargeable batteries used in the units are replaceable in some models.
Bear in mind also that there are no fitting costs with Solar Powered Outdoor Lighting. Providing you are capable of screwing the units to the wall you are good to go!
Is Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting Expensive to Run?
Outdoor Lighting controlled by motion sensors should, in theory at least, be cheaper to run than outside lighting that is left on all through the night.
The saving is however not likely to be massive. Most outside lighting systems are now equipped with low wattage energy saving lamps which, by design, consume less power. None the less the fact that the lights are illuminated for a smaller number of hours will result in lower power consumption.
The actual motion sensor will consume a small amount of energy to keep the system live even when the lights themselves are not lit. The usage is however minimal and, according to reports I have read, will amount to something in the region of one watt per day on ‘standby mode’ (approx 23 hours) and 5 watts per day on ‘active mode'(1 hour per day).
There are no ongoing running costs for Solar Powered outdoor motion sensor lighting as all of the power required to run the system is obtained, for free, from the sun.
Positioning and Adjusting Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights
It is essential that you position your Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting correctly.
- Bear in mind that the primary function of outdoor lighting with motion sensors is to improve your household security. You need to make sure that as much of the outside of your property is illuminated and there are no blind spots that are left in shadow.
- Position your lights high up on the walls. The higher the lights are positioned the bigger the area that will be illuminated. It is also more difficult for anyone to tamper with the light units if they are placed well out of reach.Bear in mind however that if you position the light fitting extremely high you are likely to require a higher wattage bulb to provide the required amount of light at ground level.
- Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting should also be positioned in such a way that the sensors will not be triggered by innocent passers by to your property. Virtually all motion sensor lighting can be adjusted for sensitivity and it is well worth spending some time to make sure that your lighting is adjusted correctly for your property.
- If your motion sensor lights are ‘wired’ make sure that all of the wiring is contained within the lighting unit. It is not unknown, although not common, for burglars to simply cut the power supply to security lights if they are easily accessible.
Can Motion Sensor Lights be set to Come On Continuously?
The outdoor motion sensor lights that I have fitted are connected to a standard light switch. When the light switch is in the ‘off’ position the outdoor lighting comes on when the sensor detects movement. Moving the switch to the ‘on’ position will switch the outdoor lighting on. The lights will remain on until the switch is put back to the ‘off’ position. The lights will then only come on again when motion is detected.
Using an Independent Motion Sensor to operate Outdoor Lighting.
If you want to install outdoor lighting that is operated by a motion sensor the easiest solution is to purchase lights with motion sensors built in. There is however another solution.
It is possible to simply add an outdoor motion sensor to your existing outdoor lighting arrangement.
This is slightly more complicated but can have benefits in certain situations. Instead of relying on an intruder triggering each light individually it is possible to have all of the lights on the circuit come on simultaneously when the central sensor is triggered.
It is also possible to integrate more than one independent motion sensor with your outdoor lighting. You could for example have one motion sensor at the front of the house and a second sensor at the rear. Alternatively the sensor could be positioned above the entrance to your property. Anyone entering your driveway would then trigger the sensor and thereby activate all of the lights around your property.
Is it worth investing in Outdoor Motion sensor Lighting?
In my opinion a good outdoor motion sensor lighting system is possibly the best burglar deterrent you can have. Anyone intent on committing a burglary wants to remain undetected.
If there are two properties side by side, one with good security lighting and one without, most burglars are going to ignore the property bathed in light and choose the easier option.
Motion Sensor Lighting provides the security you require without having the inconvenience of having your property permanently illuminated. It can also be used in conjunction with other home security measures such as home alarm systems and cctv monitoring!