The best outdoor motion sensor lights in 2023 | Popular Science

Security is worth every penny you pay for it. So is convenience.

Easy to install with good waterproofing at a really strong price point, you can get all you need from the LEONLITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light. Ultraviolet Ozone Germicidal Light

The best outdoor motion sensor lights in 2023 | Popular Science

A solar-powered model at a super reasonable price, these lights don’t offer must customization in terms of where they points but do offer great detection within 26 feet.

This smart device-compatible motion sensor can interface with Alexa, Google, or Apple HomeKit, giving you tons of customizability and control to existing light fixtures.

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Nothing lights your way better than a motion sensor light. Plus, these lights are huge deterrents for home dangers. Coming home to a dark driveway or path to the front door can be sad and somewhat dangerous, with it easy to miss a step and take a tumble. Plus, not only will prowlers or burglars be put off by motion sensor lights, but local wildlife will be less likely to stick around if their movements are met with a bright flash of light. If the area around your domicile can get easily dark, you will want an outdoor motion sensor light. There are tons of them on the market, so which one should you choose? Don’t worry; like the gentle glow of your new light, we’re here to guide you on the best outdoor motion sensor lights.

We’ve looked at a wide variety of reviews from real-world users, as well as in-the-field experts. We consulted colleagues and friends who have used these brands around their own homes. We then took the general consensus and distilled it down into categories to give you a better sense of what might be a good choice for your personal use. The difference in quality between any of our choices is quite small. So, if there are particular features you’re looking for, it may be the best choice not to go for our “best overall” model. Instead, look for something more specific to your needs, like a smart sensor or one with a camera. All of them equally can be considered the best outdoor motion sensor lights.

There are a wide variety of motion sensor lights on the market, making it hard to sort through. Which brands are reliable? What ones produce a strong and consistent glow? Which have cool smart features or cameras that increase security even further? We’ve researched from the lawn to the landings so we can let you know and lead you to the best outdoor motion sensor lights.

Offering a lot of features and easy installation at a low price, the LEONLITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light is appropriate for a lot of situations, even if its styling leaves something to be desired. One of the nicest features is the ability to adjust the motion sensor’s range out to about 70 feet. However, if your area of worry is closer, you can slide a dial to shorten that range. That way, your neighbor’s dog cavorting in the backyard won’t set it off. There are additional modes, including just turning the light on all the time, and having it automatically come on at night and turn off during the day.

Being an LED light, the low-wattage bulbs produce just as much light without using as much energy as traditional bulbs. If you’re purchasing your motion sensor light with the intention of lowering your power consumption, the LEONLITE LED is a good choice. Even if you live in an area with a lot of rain or other inclement weather, the light’s IP65 waterproofing and solid aluminum construction can hold up to a lot of punishment from the elements. The fixture has a lifespan of 50,000 hours, meaning you’ll be using it for years to come.

The main drawback of the LEONLITE LED is its rather industrial styling. It’s not a particularly fashionable light. It comes in black and white, but as of writing, the black model is more expensive than the white one. The included gaskets, which seal the bulbs in their casings, are a bit weak, so don’t screw too tight when installing. You can find replacement parts made of sturdier metal at any hardware store if needed. Speaking of installing, the LEONLITE LED installs very easily. Just make sure you adjust the lamps so that they don’t cover any of the spots you want to be monitored with the motion sensor.

For its reasonable price and many features, the LEONLITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light is our best overall outdoor motion sensor light.

If you’re into connecting your home’s electronic devices to a smart hub like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Google Assistant, or Apple’s HomeKit, Philips—a longtime trusted name in home electronics (and smart light bulbs)—has an excellent line of bulbs, fixtures and, most importantly, a motion sensor.

This Philips Hue motion sensor doesn’t include any built-in lighting. But you can purchase compatible lighting devices or special Philips Hue bulbs to connect your existing fixtures to your motion sensor and your smart-home network. However, this all requires the additional purchase of a Hue Bridge. So make sure you buy everything you need if you’re going to go smart, or you might end up with a useless device.

Once you connect and set up your network of smart bulbs and motion detector(s), you’re going to have more options than you ever expected. You can change the color of your bulbs, creating ambient light or different lighting for different functions. That includes softer light when you arrive home at night and stronger light when you’re asleep to deter animals and criminals. You can use a phone app to adjust your settings, or turn your lights on or off at any time.

The motion detector device is easy to install and doesn’t have to be anywhere near the light fixture that it’s connected to. It offers tons of flexibility in terms of the area of coverage. It’s also small enough and innocuous enough that it doesn’t drastically change the look of your home area. It may even be hard to spot unless you’re quite close to it. This can be good or bad. Your home won’t have an eyesore on it, but criminals may not sit it and decide that it’s not worth trying to case your place (though the lights turning on as they get close hopefully will do the trick).

Choosing the Philips Hue means you’re going to have more options than ever before, but it also requires wading into an expensive and extensive world of smart devices. If you’re already a smart home devotee, it makes sense to have your motion sensor work with it, but if you’re not, think long and hard before committing. However, once you decide to go smart, the Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor is the best smart outdoor motion sensor (once you add a) light.

If you’re looking for brightness, our best LED outdoor motion sensor light is the LEPOWER LED Security Light. This large, three-part motion sensor light has a range of up to 72 feet, though it works better within 24 at a height of 7.5 to 10 feet.  Like our best overall model, it’s IP65 Waterproof and aluminum, but the lights are built-in with a different style of bulb that is not replaceable. It uses almost twice the power of our best overall, but you get that power in the light. This thing is BRIGHT, maybe too bright if you’re close to your neighbors. That strength makes this perfect for larger-lot homes and garages.

You’re not going to get an overnight feature, meaning you can’t use it dusk-to-dawn, but you can set the duration of the motion sensor light from 10 seconds all the way to 10 minutes, or simply turn it on. Each of the three lights is independently adjustable, as is the motion sensor unit. You can either bend all three of the light areas to focus on one spot, or widen them out to cover the most area possible. This unit is relatively easy to install, no more so than expected with an outdoor light fixture.

While it doesn’t have all the features of some of our higher-rated units, the LEPOWER LED Security Light lives up to the POWER in its name, making it the best LES outdoor motion sensor light.

If you want an outdoor motion sensor light that doesn’t require you to wire it into your home’s electrical system, you want a solar-powered light. The best we found is the Sunforce Triple Head Solar Motion Light. It’s a relatively small three-panel flood light with an attached solar-powered panel that can be mounted separately, up to 15 feet away, in order to gather the maximum amount of light during the day.

These are all excellent and convenient features, but this light does come with some drawbacks. It’s simply not as powerful as other models due to it running not on electricity but on batteries that are recharged with the solar panel. (The batteries are included, which is nice.) The range is much lower than other models, less than half, and the maximum time the light will stay on is lower too. Therefore, this model is better for tighter lots or convenience rather than crime deterrence. However, the price is reasonable, so you can also simply set up more than one of the Sunforce Triple Head Solar Motion Light.

While there are some drawbacks, there are also a lot of benefits to the Sunforce Triple Head Solar Motion Light, making it the best solar-powered outdoor motion sensor light on the market.

If you want to step your security up, you’ll want to pair a camera with your lights, so when they’re triggered, you can know what happened to cause it. If you use Alexa in your smart home, the best option is Amazon-owned company Ring’s Floodlight Cam Wired Pro, a good light paired with an incredible security camera. 

As a light, the Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro isn’t quite as powerful as a dedicated outdoor motion sensor light. The lights only have a range of about 30 feet, though the camera can see and follow motion beyond that in daylight. However, the motion sensor itself has a great radius, more than 180 degrees, which is better than many other models.

The camera is excellent. It outputs 1080p HD video, which is really clear. The camera can identify if motion is human, animal, or mechanical and be set to only record in the event of the kind of motion you’re interested in. Integrating with Alexa, you can have the camera trigger other smart devices, like locks or alarms. Night videos are clearer in black and white than in color. All the footage is available on the Ring app.

However, you must subscribe to the Ring’s service to use all these features. Multiple plans determine how much footage you can store for later viewing, starting at $3 a month. There’s also a built-in alarm, which means if your camera catches a prowler or robber about to attempt to enter your home, you can hopefully scare them away.

While it costs a pretty penny both initially and over time, the Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro offers an incredible amount of features that can really add to your peace of mind, or simply help you monitor what’s happening around you. That makes it the best outdoor motion sensor light with a camera. You can learn even more in our full review.

Our best value proposition for outdoor motion sensor lights is a double deal: you get two for one price. The HMCITY Solar Lights Outdoor LED are two wide-angled light panels that are self-contained and solar-powered. You can install them anywhere because you do not need wires (we’re big fans of on a deck, maybe one with some nice furniture). The housing contains the solar cells, though, so make sure wherever you place them gets adequate sunlight during the day. There’s even a dusk-to-dawn mode that turns the lights on all night.

The HMCITY Solar Lights are better as ambient and night-use home lights than they are as security lights, but they can do the job. You can either set the lights to be off until they sense motion or to have low light until they sense motion and then get brighter. The lights themselves have a wide angle that they cast: 270 degrees. Even though the light itself isn’t powerful, it fills an area well.

Some of the drawbacks of the HMCITY Solar Lights are standard to solar-powered lights. They simply don’t produce as much light as wired lights can, and they tend to have sensors that can’t detect quite as far out. The HMCITY Solar Lights have a maximum range of 26 feet for detection, so it’s better on a smaller lot. They do have standard IP65 waterproofing, though the casing itself can collect a bit of moisture on the top, so it may be better to install it under an eave if possible.

The price is excellent, with two lights retailing for around $30 without a sale or coupon. For that price, the HMCITY Solar Lights Outdoor LED gives you a convenient and useful package to add ambient light to your backyard, convenient light to approach to your door, or deter criminals and wildlife from getting near your property. That’s what makes it the best-value outdoor motion sensor light.

If you don’t need a lot of light and don’t want to worry about wires, Beams offers a battery-powered motion-sensing spotlight that does a good job for a small price. At only $20, the Beams Wireless Battery Operated Powered Motion Sensing Spotlight can be installed anywhere, no need to worry about patching into your house’s electrical system. Instead, the Beams Spotlight runs on 3 D-cell batteries (not included). You’ll get about a year of use out of each set.

The light’s motion sensor is a bit limited, which is typical of battery-powered motion sensor lights, offering only 120 degrees. The range is surprisingly strong, besting our best value model by 4 feet. The spotlight is quite small, meaning it’s excellent for side doors, pet areas, or as a supplemental light when the main light is turned off.

The weatherproofing is about the same as other models, hitting IPX6, though it doesn’t have a rating for contact or dustproofing. The aesthetic is actually a bit nicer than more powerful models, with it blending in better than the large multi-panel floodlights.

While there are not a lot of options with the Beams Wireless Battery Operated Powered Motion Sensing Spotlight, and some of its benefits (small size, install anywhere) come with drawbacks (weaker light, need for batteries), the $20 price and overall good performance makes it the best budget outdoor motion sensor light.

The first thing you should consider is the range and angle that you’ll need for your property—and your property only! It’ll be highly annoying for your neighbors if they can easily trip your motion sensor lights from their yard or, even worse, from their home! So, if you live on tighter lots, a shorter range might actually be better, while if you live on a large piece of property, you’ll want something that extends a long way out.

You’ll also need to consider the angle of detection for the motion detector. If you’re putting your lights flush against a wall of your home and want detection on all sides, you’re going to want 180 degrees, while if you’re affixing it in a corner, you may not need to worry so much about having such a wide angle.

You’ll want to consider the power source. Some of these lights are solar powered and store up their batteries during the day so that they may be used at night, but that also requires they be placed on the side of your house that gets a lot of sunshine to be most effective.

Lastly, consider any additional accessories or features you want alongside your lights. Do you want a camera? Do you want smart home features that let you control the lights from your phone or with your voice from a connected device? Not every light is going to feature those.

Every light from our list is in some way the “best,” but our overall favorite light was the LEONLITE LED Motion Sensor Flood Light.

The biggest disadvantage is these lights are made to throw a lot of light quickly, which can be annoying to neighbors if they get tripped late at night (either by a late-arriving member of your household, a pet or other animal, or anyone else). You can inadvertently create conflict when installing one of these, so consult with your neighbor on the side where you plan to place it, and if possible, adjust the way the light is pointed so as to put the least possible light pollution into your neighbor’s property. Also, keep in mind that motion sensor lights are not going to be warm and inviting like a porch light. They click on and off in a pretty aggressive way, even when you are the person who triggers them. They can actually be quite stressful to encounter, even when you’re expecting them.

A good motion sensor with built-in lights should last 10-15 years. If you use a separate smart sensor to make your existing fixtures motion sensor lights, you’ll simply have to replace the bulbs when they burn out.

Individual motion sensor lights should be between 300 and 700 lumens for soft, porch-like light. Floodlights should be 1000 or more.

In terms of being used as a practical light, motion sensor lights have the ability to save you money and conserve energy compared to an always-on porch light. They are also known deterrents for criminals and wildlife, and when paired with a camera, can get you a sense of what happened in the event of an accident or incident at night. In this regard, they’re a smart purchase.

Motion sensors use passive infrared sensors, which monitor any infrared energy changes, turning on an associated electrical switch when they are engaged. The electrical switch is attached to the light, which then illuminates. Infrared sensors can be tripped by any individual, animal, or object that has a heat signature at a certain level but can be interfered with if you have a heat vent or other heat source near the sensor. 

You should probably get an outdoor motion sensor light if you’re considering them. You’ll feel more secure, they’ll give convenient, energy-saving light, and you might even have a lower power bill. Which of our recommended units you buy will depend entirely on your needs, but all can confidently be called the best outdoor motion sensor lights.

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

Nicholas Ware was born and raised in Montgomery, Ala., but has since spent time in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, California, and Japan. At PopSci, he contributes reviews and round-ups focusing on tech, audio/video products, and video games.

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The best outdoor motion sensor lights in 2023 | Popular Science

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