Thursday, 22 May 2014 18:57

How Motion Detector Lights Work

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Motion detectors sense moving objects by picking up the heat that radiates from the object.  The motion light will automatically turn on when the motion detector senses an object moving within its detection range -- the sensor will work especially well when warm objects move within the detection area, such as animals, people and cars.

Once motion is detected and the light turns on, the light will remain on for a set period of time.  Most outdoor motion lights will allow you to set the amount of time that the light will remain on, typically anywhere from 1 minute to 25 minutes.  Then, if the detector no longer senses movement after the set time, the light will automatically turn off.  In addition, most outdoor motion lights include a photocell that will deactivate the light during daylight.  As a result, the light will only turn on when motion is detected during darkness.

The detection range on most sensors includes up to a 240 degree field of view, and a distance range of 70 feet or more.  On some lights, the distance range can be adjusted through a setting on the light, while on other lights, you can adjust the detector either up (to increase range) or down (to lower range) to change the detection distance.  Also, keep in mind that the motion detector will pick up any moving object that is giving off heat, including a passing car, your neighbor, an approaching person, a pet, blowing leaves, etc.  As a result, you may experience undesired light triggering.  However, most nuisance triggering can be avoided by properly and carefully setting the detection area through range settings and detector adjustment.  A useful tip to fine tune your detection adjustments is to use black electrical tape to cover portions of the detector unit in order to block certain areas of the sensor.  Trial and error will be needed to get the settings and range just right for your situation.

Most outdoor motion lights will also let you override the motion sensor, and use the light as a conventional switched light.  In order to enter this override mode on most motion lights, flip the wall switch connected to the light off for a second, and then flip the switch back on.  This should allow you to use your light in the dark as a switched light, leaving the light on even when no motion is detected.  Flipping the light off, and then back on again, will usually allow you to exit this override state, and turn the motion sensor back on.  Also, most lights will reset to motion-sensing operation when the photocell on the light detects daylight, causing the light to go into motion sensing operation the next evening.  Make sure to consult the specific instructions for your light to enter override mode, if this feature is present.

You may be surprised at the features your motion light has--make sure to read the instructions to get the most out of your light!


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  • Comment Link Jean Lorhan Tuesday, 01 March 2016 03:21 posted by Jean Lorhan

    I have read many sites at this point,but have not yet establish why a light is not working. I wanted to be pointed towards a particular part of the sensors in order to establish the problem once it was established that the actual lights are working. The problem is why is it not being activated.

  • Comment Link Motion Lights Admin Sunday, 27 November 2016 16:14 posted by Motion Lights Admin

    It may be a number of things - a faulty product, problem with wiring, etc.

    In order to trouble shoot, I suggest you start from the basics.
    - Is the bulb working?
    - Is power getting to the unit?
    - Does your unit have a test mode - is that working?

    In order to isolate the problem with a particular unit, you will need to go through the steps of ruling out possible reasons for the failure.


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