Best Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights
Whether you are looking to deter potential burglars, provide yourself light when you walk on your patio at night, or save on your energy bill, there are a lot of reasons to why you would want to install best outdoor motion sensor lights.
But, how do you buy them and what do you need to look out for? Well, over the course of this guide, you will learn the answer to both of those crucial questions. Along the way, you will also be witnessed by some of the best options that are currently available on the market. And, as you will see, the choices at your disposal do vary quite a bit.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 8.5 hrs of research
Can stay on up to eight hours
Designed with surge protection
Sports wide sensitivity control
- RAB LIGHTING STL360H
- HEATH/ZENITH MISSION-STYLE LIGHT
- MAXSA INNOVATIONS
- RAB LIGHTING STL360HBW
- MR BEAMS
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST OUTDOOR MOTION SENSOR LIGHTS
1. RAB LIGHTING STL360H
Can stay on up to eight hours
Designed with surge protection
Sports wide sensitivity control
It can be a bit too sensitive to other objects
The STL360H is packed with several useful and convenient features for you to utilize. But, it is also a sensor light that needs to be powered via wires (and that means that the installation will be a bit more complex).Read more
The LED bulbs that are equipped into this light constantly rotate back and forth to detect motion. And, when motion is detected, these can emit for up to eight hours after dusk.
Indeed, this is not solar powered nor is it powered via batteries. Instead, you will need to partake in some electrical work as this utilizes the power from your home.
This is simply packed with features such as built-in surge protection, the ability to adjust the time, and the ability to switch its maximum capacity to 1000 watts.
For the record, the lamps are not supplied with your purchase so you will need those. As for the installation, this does come with a universal plate.
It is specifically noted that this is ideal for wet locations. But, for extra precaution, you may want to install this under an awning or other such objects to protect it from harsh storms.
Yes, this is a bit of a pricey selection and you will need additional lamps. However, the performance is worth it as this provides 360 degrees of motion sensor capabilities.
It can withstand extreme temperatures
The head can be adjusted
Backed by a five-year warranty
A few users have had issues with the lens filling up with water
This light is actually equipped with three separate lights to cover a wider area. All in all, this is one of the best performing models on this entire list (thus justifying its higher ranking).Read more
In addition to the 30 to 40-foot motion range and the 150-degree infrared motion sensor that is equipped, these lights can emit 90 lumens of brightness (which is good but not amazing).
This is another option that is corded and that means it will not run off of batteries or anything like that.
Looking past the fact that you can rotate the head, you can also adjust the head of this model. This can allow you to completely alter the direction of the light to better suit your needs.
Though it is advised to buy a junction box with this model, the installation is relatively straight forward. With that said, you still may want to be somewhat knowledgeable about what you are doing.
Despite the IP65 weatherproof rating of this outdoor light, it has been known to have an issue with the lens filling up with water. On another note, it can withstand temperatures from -22 to 120 degrees.
The triple head design of this model will sell quite a lot of people. While some of you may like the fact that it draws electricity from your home, it holds up extremely well in the performance end of things.
It is ETL and DLC qualified
Backed by a five-year warranty
Designed with die-cast aluminum
The sensitivity range could be better
The included directions are not very good
In addition to the fact that this floodlight can cover 360 degrees, it is also engineered with three different operation modes that you can choose from. All in all, it is an incredible design.Read more
This is rated to output nearly 2000 lumens (1800, to be exact) of light (which is incredible). Additionally, this can cover 360 degrees and only uses 20 watts of power.
Yep, this is yet another outdoor motion sensor light on this list that is wired.
Even though it is really nice to have the ability to toggle between three different operation modes, this really lacks the ability to effectively adjust the sensitivity of the light range.
The good news is this does come with an advanced mounting box. However, as some users have noted, the included directions are abysmal.
Let’s just say this is built to withstand the nature of the outdoor world. After all, it is complete with a die-cast aluminum housing and an IP65 weatherproof rating.
In spite of the minor flaws with this design, it is breathtaking in spots. Arguably most impressive is its rugged core and ultra-high brightness output.
It is very easy to install
It is solar powered
Backed by a 180-day money-back guarantee
The performance can be inconsistent at times
Right from the get-go, what makes this model unique is the fact that it is solar powered. It is also pretty darn powerful as it can emit up to 1100 lumens of light (at 100 percent charge).Read more
As noted, the 48 LED bulbs can emit up to 1100 lumens of light. But, this is only at 100 percent charge as when this drops down to 80 percent, they drop to around 800 lumens. Also, this can detect motion up to 32 feet away and can do so at 360 degrees. However, some users have noted that the motion detection can be inconsistent at times.
This is equipped with a polycrystalline silicon solar panel and it allows it to better absorb sunlight. All in all, this can last for up to 12 hours if the battery is fully charged.
The main additional functionality present here are the four different working modes. With the push of a button, you can change between emergency lighting, constant lighting, off-bright, and dim-bright modes.
The general consensus is that this bad boy is easy to install. There is no wiring involved so for those of you who are concerned about that, the worry is not present here.
In addition to the fact that this is engineered with an aluminum alloy housing, this same housing has been anodized for enhanced protection. Also, the lampshade is resistant to UV rays from the sun.
In spite of the inconsistent motion detection, this really is an excellent design overall. It is just something you will have to put up with is all.
5. HEATH/ZENITH MISSION-STYLE LIGHT
Backed by a two-year warranty
It is built to last
It can be used as other lights
It eats through light bulbs
Unlike the other options on this list, this sucker is a decorative outdoor motion sensor light. After all, it is built with a combination of oil rubbed bronze metal and glass.Read more
Utilizing pulse-count technology, this is able to cut down on the number of false triggers by simply reading movement and heat in pulses. Also, this can detect motion from up to 30 feet away.
What you will need is an incandescent light bulb to power this (though one is not included). Due to the fact that LED bulbs are not used (though you can use dim ones), though, this will consume bulbs much quicker.
All in all, you can choose between three different auto modes. Additionally, this can be used as a primary source of light thanks to the built-in manual override mode.
Yes, this does come with a wall mount. Again, though, this will take a little bit of knowledge to install (though it should not be anything too tricky).
One of the best aspects of this model is its construction. It is built with oil rubbed bronze metal and also sports clear seeded glass. Oh, and it has also been coated with a weather-resistant finish.
Due to the simple fact that this does not utilize LED bulbs (only dim ones), it may not be for everyone. But, it is an excellent decorative piece that also serves its purpose well as an outdoor motion sensor light.
6. MAXSA INNOVATIONS
The construction is really nice
Ideal for all sorts of outdoor uses
You can adjust the light duration
The brightness is not the best
With the use of three NiMH batteries, this spotlight is able to detect motion up to 40 feet away. What is also nice is this is versatile in its design (as you can adjust many settings and features).Read more
Overall, this spotlight is excellent for smaller more contained areas. But, it can detect motion up to 40 feet away within a 180-degree area (it is just not very bright).
Even though this looks like another wired model, it actually runs off of three rechargeable NiMH batteries. When fully charged, these batteries are rated to last 90 minutes (or 90, one-minute activations).
There are definitely some features that you can mess around with here such as the ability to alter the light duration after the motion stops and the direction of the heads.
The same batteries previously alluded to receive their energy from the solar panels which gather said energy from the sun. So, this means that the installation process will be quite simple.
Even though the IP44 rating is not the best it means that this can withstand certain types of weather conditions. Also, this sports a high-density polyethylene housing.
About the only real “disappointing” aspect of this model is the fact that it does not emit much brightness. Outside of that, it really is a fantastic motion sensor light to install.
7. RAB LIGHTING STL360HBW
The circuits are fully shielded
It can sense a wide range of motion
The sensitivity control is adjustable
The tilting mechanism is cheap plastic
Yes, this option from RAB Lighting is very similar to the other one that is on this list. While that one is slightly superior in quality, you also can’t go wrong with this model either.Read more
This lighting system has the capability of sensing 180 degrees straight out and 360 degrees down. Also, it can run at 1000 watts for total detection of motion.
Due to the fact that this accepts 120 volts of input power, anybody in North America should be able to install it as this is the standard.
The STL360HBW sports many of the same features that the STL360H does such as surge protection technology and time delay adjustments. At the same time, this does not come equipped with a dual bright function.
If you wanted to, you could have this installed by your electrician to err on the side of caution. After all, it will need to be wired into your home.
The white cast aluminum housing is really nice as this helps to prevent corrosion. Yet, there is a plastic joint that allows the unit to tilt and it is not well-made.
Several of you may be looking to avoid wired outdoor motion sensor lights and that is completely understandable. At the same time, though, this does deliver the goods.
Waterproof to IP65 standards
Comes in a pack of four
They are pretty darn small
Not the best battery life
This is a very popular brand of lights so it is no surprise to see it make an appearance on this list. This pack of four solar lights, while small in size, is energy-efficient and packed with long-lasting LED bulbs.Read more
While these are quite small and do not emit that much light, they can detect movement up to 26 feet away and can also detect 270 degrees around.
Indeed, these are solar lights and that means that they draw their power from the sunlight (more or less). But, the integrated battery still will not last that long once it is fully charged.
While the premise behind these lights was to make them as simple as possible, it can be a little disappointing to know that only one mode is built into these suckers.
Installation of all four of these lights is quick and simple. There is no hardwiring to worry about and all you need to perform is some basic steps.
While these are made out of plastic, it is not cheap plastic (both ABS and polypropylene). Also, each light is weatherproof to IP65 standards.
If you can get over how small these are and understand their limitations in that respect, you should be able to enjoy them. They are well-built and convenient, after all.
The LED bulb is long-lasting
Can emit up to 1050 lumens
Rated to handle wet environments
It will turn on during daylight hours
Be aware that this is not going to work by itself. Instead, it is a LED bulb that needs to be installed into preexisting fixtures. This makes it ideal, though, as it can be installed virtually anywhere.Read more
Let’s just say this bad boy can perform. It can emit up to 1050 lumens of light, sports an LED bulb rated to last 25,000 hours and can detect motion within 30 feet of the sensor. Of course, the 100-degree detection zone is quite limited.
Indeed, as mentioned, this needs to be installed into preexisting fixtures either inside or on the outside of your home.
For whatever reason, this was not designed with a sensor to prevent it from turning on during daylight hours. Without question, that is the biggest downside of this model.
This is about as easy as it gets for installation assuming you have a fixture that is already installed in an appropriate location.
It is noted in the product description that this is rated for outdoor placement. It is also rated to handle wet environments.
If you want an individual light source that can be installed anywhere you please you may be disappointed with this option. For what it is, however, it is very useful.
10. MR BEAMS
Designed with UV-resistant materials
Can detect motion up to 30 feet away
Delivers 350 square feet of coverage
It does not appear to be waterproof
Batteries must be bought separately
While some users have questioned the weatherproof design that this claims to have, it is still a solid spotlight that can perform quite nicely as an outdoor motion sensor light.Read more
In addition to the fact that this can detect motion within 30 feet and provides 350 square feet of coverage, it can emit 140 lumens of brightness.
It is worth noting that the D batteries needed for this spotlight do not come with your purchase. Also, it is claimed that this works best with Polaroid D Batteries.
This seems to be pretty basic in its design as it turns off and on automatically once it detects motion.
As this is a wireless model, the installation process is going to be quick and straightforward. You should have too many issues with it.
Though this is advertised to be weatherproof, it most certainly is not (based on user feedback). Excess rain seems to get inside and this will then cause corrosion. Now, to prevent this, install this under an awning or anywhere outside that can provide protection for it.
The non-weatherproof design does hurt this outdoor motion sensor light. Yet, there are ways around it if you still wanted to buy this affordable and practical spotlight.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
You want the lights you buy to be able to perform, right?
There is a lot to cover in this section so buckle your seatbelts. To start, be aware that outdoor motion sensor lights will come equipped with different types of motion sensors. There are really all sorts of types out there (such as microwave, passive infrared, ultrasonic sounds and vibration sensors) and each of them will work a little differently. For the record, the most common sensor you will see is passive infrared and this detects body heat. Past this, though, you will need to assess the specifications. This mostly entails assessing the types of bulbs used, brightness levels of said bulbs and motion sensing capabilities.
To start with the type, most generally you will want to stick with LEDs. They can often be much dimmer than other models but they are extremely energy-efficient and long-lasting. Of course, speaking of dim, all you need to do to ensure this is not an issue is to buy lights that emit enough brightness. And, the best way to assess this is to reference the lumen rating of any given model (as lumens equate to brightness). Oh, and as for the motion sensing capabilities, this will come down to how far away the sensor can detect motion and at what angle. If you want full coverage, you will want to look for nothing less than 40-foot coverage at 270 degrees.
You need to be aware that different models will be powered in different ways.
When it comes down to it, there is one of three types of outdoor motion sensor lights that you can buy. They can either be powered via rechargeable or regular batteries, via solar energy or via hardwiring. The question becomes, though, which one is best? Well, only you can answer that question as it really comes down to personal preference. But, to give you a better idea of what each power source entails, let’s break this down for you real quick.
For starters, you have models that can utilize batteries. The advantage here is really the convenience in regard to the fact that no hardwiring will be necessary (more on that later). At the same time, ironically, these models are inconvenient as you will need to either recharge or change the batteries when they have no juice remaining. Secondly, you have solar outdoor motion sensor lights and these are very similar. The only difference is they gather energy from the sun which is then stored in their internal batteries. While these can operate when the power goes out, they will require direct access to sunlight in order to charge. And, lastly, you have the most common power method (hardwiring). This is the most reliable as you will never need to worry about recharging any batteries. At the same time, though, if the power goes out then you are out of luck.
It is up to you as you can either get a model that is packed with features or not.
Here is where everything can change. Only you can decide how much control you want for the outdoor motion sensor lights that you end up buying. But, what you need to know is that not all models will be optimized to provide you with such control. Some models will be fairly basic in their designs and will be devoid of any features. On the contrary, however, other lights will be packed with specific features that will allow you to tailor their performance (in some way) to your liking.
For example, there are some motion sensor lights that will allow you to alter the duration that the light emits after it detects motion. Such systems may allow the light to be on anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes. Additionally, some units will come with heads that can be rotated. This can allow you to direct the light where you want it. Furthermore, there are motion sensor lights out there that will be equipped with multiple operation modes. Oh, and speaking for hardwired models exclusively for this last point, they will sometimes be engineered with surge protection technology (which is important as power surges will affect them as they will be hardwired to your home).
Ease of Use
This is all about the installation and how easy it is going to be.
Yes, this section plays directly off of the previous section that discussed power sources. But, they are both important enough to justify them each having their own separate sections. So, let’s talk about the installation (which is what this is all about) for a minute. Going back to what was mentioned earlier, there are three different types of outdoor motion sensor lights. And, out of the three of them, solar-powered and battery-powered models are the easiest to install. Most of the time, this will be as simple as mounting them with the included hardware in a suitable place. But, a quick note about models that are solar-powered, they will need to be installed in a location that is exposed to direct sunlight for optimal performance.
Moving on to hardwire lights, these can get tricky. As the name of them suggests, you will need to literally hardwire these types of lights into your home. Now, doing so can be complicated without good directions or prior knowledge. So, if you have neither one of those at your disposal, you may want to seek assistance from an outside source.
The option you go with should be durable and possibly even weatherproof.
First and foremost, you need to analyze the housing of any model that you are looking at. This is basically in reference to the outer shell and it is the portion that protects all the internal components. For the most part, housings on outdoor motion sensor lights will be made out of plastic or metal. If they are made out of metal, typically it will be some type of aluminum alloy as aluminum is known for its corrosion-resistant properties (and it will not rust). As for plastic, do not be afraid of it. While some plastic can be extremely cheap, most motion sensor lights that sport plastic shells will utilize some sort of high-quality plastic (such as ABS, polyethylene or polypropylene).
Looking past this, you also need to worry about inclement weather. After all, you are looking for outdoor lights and these may be exposed to rain and other such forms of precipitation. And, the best way to assess the weather resistance of any model is to look at its IP rating. This consists of two numbers with the first representing the object’s resistance to solids and the second water. The higher the numbers (with six, seven and eight being the best), the more weather-resistant a model is going to be.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Assessing how well outdoor motion sensor lights perform comes down to a number of variables. With so many of them at play, this section can, admittedly, be a little overwhelming. However, always keep in mind that you need to buy according to your needs. This means you can prioritize specific performance specifications over others if you so choose.
What you need to know is that outdoor motion sensor lights will be powered in several different ways and it can vary from brand to brand. The three most common power sources that you will see are via a battery, solar energy and hardwiring. All three of them, quite frankly, do have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Selecting the style you want really comes down to your own personal preferences.
There are actually some models on the market that will be very simple in their designs and there is nothing wrong with that. However, at the same time, this just is not going to fly with some of you. As such, if you know that you will settle for nothing less than a model that offers you with a ton of control and customization options, you need to prioritize this section.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Will power outages affect motion sensor lighting?
For the record, power outages are not going to affect your motion sensor lights unless they are hardwired to your home. After all, battery-operated models will not depend on your home’s electricity. Anyway, when a power outage or power surge happens, outside of losing power with hardwired models, your motion sensor lights may accidentally be activated to stay on all the time. All you need to do is reset them, though.
q: Are there models that will activate in the daylight?
Yes, there are models that will turn on during daylight hours. In fact, there is one on this list that does that. However, you may not want this to happen as you do not really need security lighting or motion lighting during the day. With that said, for whatever reason you want to do so, you may be able to remove the light sensor from your model that prevents daytime activation (you will need to watch a tutorial video on how to do so).
q: Can these units account for nuisance activations?
The problem with some motion detectors is they will be signaled due to nuisances (this can include the wind blowing, vehicles that drive by, etc.). This can be a flaw in their designs and if you get one that will not stop being triggered by false alarms, you can adjust where the sensor is directed and also its field of vision (if the model you have allows for such changes, obviously).
q: How can you test your model?
Testing the model you buy is really as easy as it sounds. But, before you do so, if it is powered via batteries, ensure that it is fully charged. If it is, place it in an area that it will be able to detect your motion as you walk toward it. From there, walk away from it so the light turns off. Then, walk toward it until the light emits. If this happens and does so at the advertised range then you are good to install it (you can’t do this with hardwired models as they need to be wired to work at all).
q: Can motion sensor lights stay on all the time?
It all depends on the specific design of the model but it is worth mentioning that most outdoor motion sensor lights will be equipped with override modes. It is typically as easy as turning this mode on and, when you do so, it will override the motion detection.
q: Will cold weather negatively affect them?
Once again, it all depends on the model but most of them will be designed to handle cold and inclement weather. Of course, if you are using a battery-operated light, the possibility is there that the batteries will not perform at their peak in colder weather. As such, the light may appear to be dimmer than it should be. If you can get ahold of lithium-ion batteries, they can help with this situation.