Project Guide

How to Reset a Motion Sensor Light

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Understand Why Motion Sensor Lights Stop Working
The exterior of a home illuminated by motion sensor lights

Motion detector lights should be triggered whenever a person, vehicle or other objects pass by. Many varieties are sensitive enough that even small animals can trigger them. Over time, you may find they’re less responsive or not working at all. Here are a few reasons you should consider resetting motion sensor lights:

  • Your motion sensor light won’t turn on, even when triggered by large objects like people and cars.
  • Your motion sensor light stays on. These lights are designed to go off after movement has ceased, generally within 30 to 60 seconds. If your motion sensor light won’t go off or stays on for long periods of time, it may require a reset.
  • Your outdoor sensor lights are not working or they seem less sensitive than usual. Your motion sensor lights should work some of the time, not just on certain occasions.

Whether you’re using motion sensing flood lights or security spotlights, a quick reset is the first step when troubleshooting issues. In many cases, a reset will have your lights working like new again. 

The Breaker Method
An outdoor circuit breaker panel

Motion sensor lights are often easy to reset from your breaker panel. 

  • Step 1: Turn off the circuit breaker that controls your motion sensor lights. Leave it off for 30 seconds to one minute before flipping it on again.
  • Step 2: Check your motion sensor lights. For some models, resetting the breaker is all that is needed. 

Tip: Check your owner’s manual or go online if this procedure does not work. Some models of motion sensor lights need to be disconnected from power for up to an hour to properly reset.

The Light Switch Method
A light switch on a wall

Some motion detector lights are wired to a wall switch, often found in the garage or near an entry point. Here’s how to use the wall switch to reset your lights:

  • Step 1: Turn your light switch to the on position, then flip it off for two to three seconds. Turn the switch on and check your lights. If this does not work, proceed to step two.
  • Step 2: Turn your light switch on and off quickly, hitting each position four times. When the light comes on, turn the switch to the off position and wait five to seven seconds before turning it on again. The light should remain off and the motion detection unit should be reset.

Motion sensor lights make navigating your property easier while providing essential security benefits. Most models will continuously perform as intended, but power outages, inclement weather and age can cause them to fail. Use these tips to reset your motion sensor lights, and in most cases, they’ll be working correctly again in a matter of minutes.

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