Having a motion sensor control multiple lights is convenient for many reasons. The risks of accidental activation are lower, and the efficiency of the whole system helps save money.
Besides, don’t they just look cool? Automatically activated lights were a dream years ago, and now it’s a luxury that you can have at your own home.
In this article, you’ll learn how to wire a motion sensor to multiple lights. That way, you’ll be in a better position to do it yourself.
This way, you get to save money that you’d spend hiring a professional. Plus, this step-by-step guide will allow you to understand how the system works.
Without anything else to add, let’s begin with the basics.
- 1 Cost of Wiring a Motion Sensor to Lights
- 2 Benefits of Wiring A Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights
- 3 Security
- 4 Decoration
- 5 Energy Efficiency
- 6 Flexibility
- 7 A Fun DIY Project
- 8 Tools (List the Required Tools)
- 9 Step by Step Guide: How to Wire A Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights
- 10 Step 1: Preparations
- 11 Step 2: Disassemble the Fixture
- 12 Step 3: Working the Wire Connections
- 13 Step 4: Remove Knockout
- 14 Step 5: Setting the Rubber Washer
- 15 Step 6: Mounting the Sensor
- 16 Step 7: Preparing the Wires
- 17 Step 8: The Black Wires
- 18 Step 9: The White Wires
- 19 Step 10: The Ground Wires
- 20 Step 11: The Red Wire
- 21 Step 12: Putting Everything Back
- 22 Step 13: Final Steps
- 23 Common Problems of Wiring A Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights
- 24 Other Considerations to Keep In Mind
- 25 FAQ’s Add Motion Sensor to Existing Outdoor Light
- 26 Is it possible to connect two motion lights on the same circuit?
- 27 How to keep motion sensor lights on permanently?
- 28 Can you cheat motion sensors?
- 29 Can you add motion sensor to existing lights?
- 30 How to cover motion sensors?
- 31 Verdict
Cost of Wiring a Motion Sensor to Lights
The cost of a project is often the indicator of whether or not to pull the trigger. In this case, installing a motion sensor with multiple lights can be a bit expensive. But, it also depends on the quality of the fixtures you’ll be using.
For instance, the average cost range of motion sensor lights is between $300 and $500. The minimum is $220, while the maximum is $550. This also varies depending on how many lights you wish to connect.
Overall, the average cost to pull off this project would be around $370.
Benefits of Wiring A Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights
The reasons to have one sensor connected to multiple lights are many. This section explores some of the most prominent ones.
One of the main reasons to have motion sensor lights is because of security concerns. In that regard, nothing is more helpful a having several lights connected to a single motion sensor.
This will give you instant illumination, leading to a clear view of your surroundings. If anyone or anything walks around the house, the lights will activate simultaneously. This will show who or what is passing around.
Besides security, another benefit is that the lights will be a fantastic decorative addition.
Since they activate with one single motion sensor, the illumination goes up instantly. This is perfect when you walk around the garden or exit the house via the backyard.
With fewer motion sensors used, the energy saved makes up for less money paid in electricity bills.
Furthermore, you could go for energy-efficient lights and reduce costs even more. A stylish and efficient light system, who wouldn’t want that?
Though they’re perfect for outdoor areas, the fact is that motion sensor lights are perfect everywhere.
Put them at the front, at the backyard, on the sides, or anywhere you want. Besides, you can use them to get more security or for decoration.
A Fun DIY Project
Another side benefit of such a project is that it’s super fun to do. Plus, once you see the results, the time and effort put into it feels rewarding.
If you want to add luxury to the house and enjoy a challenge, setting up a motion sensor to multiple lights may be what you need.
Tools (List the Required Tools)
If you already enjoy DIY projects, then these are tools you probably have around the house. Otherwise, you’d have to buy them and add them as more expenses.
- A Set of Screwdrivers.
- Voltage Tester. Preferably a touch-type device.
- Wire Connectors.
- Motion Sensor.
- Electrical Tape.
- Wire Strippers.
Step by Step Guide: How to Wire A Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights
Ready to learn how to connect the motion sensors to lights? Then let’s not wait any longer. Read and follow these steps thoroughly to guarantee a successful operation.
Step 1: Preparations
Preparation is vital to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. Start by turning off the lighting circuit’s power, which will prevent electric shocks. Make sure to shut down the breaker and not the light switch.
Once you get that done, proceed to take out the light bulbs. Remove them from the fixture where you’ll be installing the motion sensor.
Step 2: Disassemble the Fixture
Using a screwdriver, start to disassemble the fixture to gain access to the wiring. But wait!
Before touching the wires, use a voltage tester to check the circuit’s status. If it doesn’t trigger the light or beeping sound, then that means you’re good to go.
Step 3: Working the Wire Connections
Continue by disconnecting the wire connections, those that set the fixture to the wall cables. These connections also include the wires that lead to the rest of the fixtures.
Step 4: Remove Knockout
Next, you’ll be removing a knockout on the wall box that will hold the motion sensor.
You can do this using a screwdriver and a hammer. Plus, the method also varies: you could either unscrew it or tap it out.
Step 5: Setting the Rubber Washer
For this step, start sliding the rubber washer over the wires of the motion sensor. This should also go over the threaded nipple.
Keep in mind that this step may be optional. Some sensors already have the rubber washer attached from the moment you get it out of the package.
Step 6: Mounting the Sensor
With everything ready, grab the wires of the motion sensor and insert them through the knockout hole. Then, start screwing the sensor.
Make sure it’s tight to prevent potential issues. If, by any chance, there are no pre-existing threads, attach the sensor to the wall box using the lock nut included.
Step 7: Preparing the Wires
This step is a bit tricky, so take your time. Using wire strippers, start removing insulation from the ends of each wire in the box.
Ideally, you want to remove around 3/4 inches of insulation if it’s necessary. This amount should be enough to establish solid and secure connections.
Observation: Pay attention to the wires. For later steps, their colors will become very important. So, take your time and familiarize yourself with all of them.
Usually, there are black, red, and white wires coming out of the motion sensor. Leading to the next fixture should be a black, white, and ground wire.
Lastly, out of the wall should be coming out cables with colors black, white, and ground wire. These are the feed wires.
Step 8: The Black Wires
Attach the black wall wire to the motion sensor’s own black wire. Once you do, secure both tightly using a wire connector.
Then, use electrical tape to wrap around the connection and keep it safe.
Step 9: The White Wires
The white wire of the wall must connect to the motion sensor’s white wire. Then, connect the white wire that leads to the next fixture with the white wire of the current light fixture.
After doing that, do just as you did before: use electrical tape and a wire connector to secure the connections.
Step 10: The Ground Wires
All ground wires must connect in the same manner together. Secure snuggly using wire connector and electrical tape.
Step 11: The Red Wire
Start connecting the red wire of the motion sensor to the black wire of the present fixture. Then, connect the black wire that leads to the upcoming fixture. Like before, secure the connections correctly.
Step 12: Putting Everything Back
Once you finish with the connections, place the wires back inside the wall box. Follow up by securing the outside light fixture to the box as well.
Step 13: Final Steps
Put the light bulbs up, and activate the circuit. Make sure the switch is on and leave it that way for a while. All fixtures must turn on and then off automatically.
After the sun sets, proceed to adjust the motion sensor’s sensitivity and range. This way, you’ll make it work just like you want it.
And that’s it! Those are all the steps needed on how to wire a motion sensor to two lights.
Common Problems of Wiring A Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights
Situation 1: After hooking up two motion sensor lights in parallel, the wires go from switch to receptacle one and then receptacle two.
This should be more than enough to turn the lights on and off flawlessly, but that’s not the case. When the switch gets turned on, the lights are inconsistent. They go on and off in an odd sequence, and the motion sensor doesn’t seem to work either.
- Possible Cause. This issue may happen regularly, and it may not have anything to do with your procedure. For example, the problem might be happening because the motion lights are not suitable for the same switch. Connecting two or more can be confusing, meaning that one light works in one mode while the other in a whole different mode. Before doing this, make sure to read the manufacturer’s guidelines first.
Situation 2: After installing the motion sensor and lights, they continue to come up even if there’s no movement nearby. What’s happening here?
- Possible Cause. The cause of this problem could be that the motion sensor’s aim is towards a street or areas where wildlife roams during nighttime. Most sensors allow you to set their aim, so make sure to adjust it as necessary.
Situation 3: Despite making flawless connections, the lights aren’t coming on at all.
- Possible Cause. Like the previous situation, this issue may be happening because of the sensor’s aim. If it’s aiming at the ground, then the lights won’t come up as needed. Again, check the motion sensor’s aim and adjust it.
Situation 4: The motion sensor used to work just fine, but it hasn’t detected movement lately. Why is this?
- Possible Cause. A potential solution to this issue can be as easy as doing some maintenance. Dirty sensors can’t work correctly, which will affect their performance inevitably. If you suspect this is happening to you, try using a wet rag to wipe it clean. After the cleaning, test the lights once again.
Situation 5: The lights turned on/off permanently. What now?
- Possible Cause. Interruptions in the electrical supply can severely affect the lights. This could include power outages, power surges, and others. Luckily, there’s a quick and effective method that might solve this problem. Try shutting off the power supply at the switch for thirty seconds. During this time, make sure there’s no movement at the front of the motion sensor. When the time is up, turn on the lights and test them.
Other Considerations to Keep In Mind
Consider the Sensibility. Motion sensors with high sensibility may get triggered with the slightest movement. So much so that even insects will turn on the lights inadvertently.
You also don’t want it to be too low, or the lights won’t react unless you’re too close. Adjust the sensibility as much as needed until you find it adequate.
Light Duration. Motion detector lights also have a setting to adjust their light duration time. It can be up to 30 minutes or more, so change it accordingly to match your preferences.
FAQ’s Add Motion Sensor to Existing Outdoor Light
Is it possible to connect two motion lights on the same circuit?
Yes, it is possible. As long as one motion sensor detects movement, the lights will remain active.
How to keep motion sensor lights on permanently?
Regularly, motion sensors keep the switch on all the time. You can override motion detection by turning the switch off and on in the span of a second, approximately.
Can you cheat motion sensors?
It’s a common belief that using a piece of styrofoam to shield your body can cheat the motion detector system.
You can also reset them by pointing at them with a light stick of a specific wavelength. This could be infrared or near-infrared.
Can you add motion sensor to existing lights?
Yes, but there are better ways. For instance, using a remote-style motion detector may be the most suitable option.
This can connect to most decorative fixtures, even those already installed. Watch this video for more guidance on how to do it.
How to cover motion sensors?
Black electrical tape is a good and quick solution if you want to cover the sensor and limit its detection range.
Once you know how to wire a motion sensor to multiple lights, you’ll be eager to start working on your own project. Gather the tools necessary, and get to work.
Once it gets done, both the motion sensor and the lights will work beautifully together. The outside decoration and security will never be the same.