How to Install an Exterior Motion Sensor Light
Nothing deters a thief like a well lit area. But truth be told, I needed this light to illuminate the path when taking out the trash. There is nothing like walking out the door with the trash in your hands after dark and realizing that you forgot to turn on the exterior light. I should mention that our neighborhood is popular with the copperheads. Need I say more?
Installing any light fixture is a relatively easy DIY project, and installing an exterior light is no exception if you have a junction box or light already installed.
- Motion Activated LED Floodlight
- Voltage Detector
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Screwdrivers (flat & philips)
Required Safety Instruction:
Turn off the power to the light fixture you are working on. I highly recommend turning on the light you will be working on, then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out. Also note that just because the light fixture power is turned off, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other outlets or lights in the same area are on the same circuit. Always check for the presence of power before you work on it.
If you have an existing light fixture remove it before installing the new fixture. For this tutorial, we’re starting with a bare junction box:
Test the black or hot wire with the voltage tester to be certain the power is turned off.
Remove the existing mounting bracket if there is one installed.
Open up your new light fixture and remove the enclosed mounting bracket. Install the mounting bracket by attaching it to the junction box with either the provided screws or your old screws. The wires should descend out of the junction box.
Bring the light fixture up to the junction box. Always start by attaching ground wires. The bare wire from your house should loop around the green screw on your mounting bracket and then attach to the green wire. Twist the two wires together clockwise and then twist a wire nut over the ends.
Gently tuck the ground wires up into the junction box.
Next attach the neutral wires (white wires). Again, twist the two wires together clockwise. Then twist a wire nut over the ends.
Gently tuck the white wires up into the junction box making sure they are separate from the ground wires.
Finally, you can attach the black or “hot” wires. Twist them together and add a wire nut onto the ends.
Tuck the black wires into the junction box pushing them away from the neutral wires.
Fit your light fixture onto the mounting bracket lining up the holes with the bracket holes. Attach the fixture to the junction box using the provided screws.
Look for a switch on your fixture and slide it to the TEST location (especially if it is daytime because your light fixture may have a daylight sensor keeping it from turning on.)
Turn the power back on and check your light fixture to see if it works. Slide the switch off TEST and onto one of the regular settings.
You may need to play with the position of the lights and the sensor to fit your lighting needs.
Now you can feel safer knowing your house is well lit at night and your path is lit when you take out the trash.
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Great article. I will be going through many of these issues as well..
This is a great tutorial! But let’s just say you don’t have any previous lights where you want it. How hard is it to install then? How difficult is installing a junction box for it (especially with concrete siding)? Thanks!
Jan, I would call a licensed electrician to put in your junction box. You don’t want to overload a circuit and you need to make sure that any modifications are done to code.
Love that you chose to put an LED security light up! Thanks for the informative post, I’ll have to pass it to my father who found several blow snakes behind his trash cans.
Thanks for the post! I always thought that installing a motion detecting light is a complicated process not as easy as switching one light for another. I will get this done soon.
We need at least one of these, great timing. Yikes copperheads, I’ve heard about those guys. I’d be concerned too! Great tutorial Brittany!