Project Guide

How to Adjust Motion Light Sensor Settings

Position the Sensor and Light Bulbs
a man adjusting a motion sensor light

Before testing your device, make sure the sensor and bulbs on your security spotlights are properly angled.

  • Standing on your ladder, start by positioning the sensor. Using your screwdriver, partially unscrew the sensor's ball joint and move it to your desired position. Once the sensor is properly aligned, fully tighten the screw.
  • When adjusting motion sensor lights, make sure the sensor is at least 2 inches away from the light bulbs, and that it has a coverage zone that's free of potential triggers. Triggers include areas with significant foot traffic and devices that cause detectable movement like air conditioners.
  • Next, loosen the light bulb holders and position them to achieve the greatest light coverage possible, and then tighten them again.

Tip: During these initial steps, don’t worry about getting the positioning perfect for either the motion sensor or the light bulbs. You can adjust as needed during the next phase where you test your motion detecting floodlights.

Test the Motion Sensor
a woman adjusting a motion sensor light on the exterior of a house

To begin testing the motion senor, you must set the lights to “test” mode.

  • Climb your ladder to take a look at the bottom of your sensor head, which is located beneath the light bulbs. There, you'll find the two sensor controls, which are typically labeled “On-Time” and “Range” (or sometimes “Sensitivity”). 
  • To begin testing your light during daylight hours, slide the "On-Time" switch on the sensor head to the "Test" position.
  • For the initial test, your “Range” (or “Sensitivity”) controls should be set to their lowest setting and all other features should be turned off.
  • During this stage, you may need to reposition the sensor and bulb.

Tip: If you’ve only just powered your floodlights using the ON switch in your circuit breaker box, allow the lights a full 90 seconds to warm up before testing. 

Set the Sensor Range
a backyard patio illuminated by motion sensor outdoor lights

Now it’s time to make sure the motion detector is working with accurate sensitivity and range.

  • Beneath your floodlights, begin walking in progressively wider circles to see if the motion detector is activated and prompts the bulbs to illuminate. Many security lights also have a red light in the sensor box which illuminates when triggered.
  • Based on how the lights behave, adjust their sensitivity range accordingly using the “Range” control on the sensor head. 

Tip: For most brands of motion sensors, maximum sensitivity provides a coverage area of around 75 to 100 feet, while minimum sensitivity covers about 15 feet.

Program the Light Bulbs
a person's hand holding a tablet to adjust motion sensor light settings

As the final step, you can adjust how long the light bulbs stay illuminated after being triggered.

  • To set the activation time and end the testing phase, climb your ladder again to adjust the controls on the sensor head.
  • Slide the “On-Time” switch to your preferred amount of minutes, such as one, five or 10 minutes.
  • You may also program the motion sensor light settings from dusk to dawn as needed, or set them to stay illuminated for a certain timespan after dark if your device has a “Dual-Bright” setting.
  • Some bulbs come equipped with smart technology and can be conveniently programed from your mobile device.