You are not alone if you are wondering how to install a security light for your yard or driveway. Whether you want a little peace of mind or simply to keep raccoons out of your garbage cans, security lights are one of the most common exterior lighting installations that people try on their own.
You can always reach out to the professionals at Safe and Sound Electric for reliable safety light installations, but homeowners experienced in basic electrical work might be considering undertaking this project on their own.
A lot goes into figuring how to install a security light outside, and we would like to help you understand the steps you will need to take. If figuring out how to mount the light and how to run the wire seem a bit beyond your current skills, you can always give us a call for safe, clean, and quick motion sensor security lights installation.
A Note About Your Safety
A motion sensor outdoors can be a complicated installation to handle, so it might not be the right choice for your first try at electrical work. Keep in mind that your home’s electrical system can be dangerous when improperly handled.
This warning is particularly dire if your home has older aluminum wire, which presents an immediate safety hazard.
Choosing Where to Put Your Motion Sensor Lights
The point of your security lights is that they will come on whenever they detect motion through their infrared sensors. This motion could be unwanted visitors, human or animal, or possibly even swaying tree branches if they are close enough.
Knowing that your motion sensor outdoor light might come on at any time, you should be considerate and avoid pointing it directly towards neighboring homes. Your new lights will also have a range setting that you can adjust to prevent accidental activation by any movement outside your yard or driveway.
The ideal height for your lights is going to be six to ten feet off the ground, on the side of your home, or on poles. They should be positioned so the sensor can pick up horizontal movement, not directly towards the light. That means a light facing your driveway should not be dead center but off to the side and angled inward.
The lights should be in the areas you need security, such as the driveway, over a backdoor, or near a fence gate. The main point is to scare off intruders, so easy entryways to your home are the main concern. A Safe and Sound Electric technician can help you determine the best location and orientation for lights and motion sensors.
Preparing for the Installation
If you are replacing an existing security light, the installation starts fairly simply. First, you need to shut off the electricity at your home’s electrical panel. If you do not know how to do this, contact Safe and Sound Electric and let us handle the installation.
With the electricity turned off, you can detach the old fixture from its base with a screwdriver. Do not touch any wires yet. You will need to use a voltage meter to ensure that there is no current on the circuit.
There will be three wires, and they will always be the same colors if the previous light has been installed properly. The hot wire will be black, the neutral will be white, and a bare copper or green ground wire. If you suspect improper installation, call Safe and Sound Electric, and we will sort it out.
To ensure that the power is off, touch one end of the voltage meter to the ground wire. Then, connect the other end to the hot and then the neutral wires. If the voltage meter lights come on at any point, you still have power and need to make sure you turned off the right circuit.
If the power is off, you can detach the fixture from the wiring and move on to the next steps.
How to Install a Security Light
You might need a larger box for your new light. You can remove the old one with a screwdriver, and new ones are readily available in different sizes at your local hardware store. Your old box was likely metal, but new plastic boxes hold up to weather a bit better.
Individual instructions are going to vary depending on the specific brand and model of light you have purchased. They all come with handy wiring diagrams that can clear up any confusion, and you should always read this first. You can avoid a headache (and installation problems) by calling the Safe and Sound Electric team.
Your new light should have essentially the same wiring as the old light. You will have to hardwire the black wire to the black wire, the white wire to the white wire, and the green or bare copper wire to the bare copper ground wire. Wire connectors are the best way to do this, even if your previous light did not have them.
The new light kit should have come with a rubber gasket, important for keeping water out of the electrical components of the light. If your old light had one, do not use it. These wear down over time and should not be reused. If the new one did not come with a gasket, you could pick one up at your local hardware store.
Put the gasket in place, possibly putting a small amount of silicone caulk around the edge for a little extra protection, and mount the light. This mounting is generally done with a simple screwdriver, and there will be a cap to put over the screw.
Calibrating Your New Light
You have figured out how to install a security light, but there are a few steps left to have it working right. Both the light and the motion detector are adjustable and need to be pointed in the right direction.
Most security lights will have two bulbs, which you angle at roughly 60 degrees from each other for the best coverage. The motion sensor should be pointed so that anyone walking through the area will cross its field of view.
Chances are, you are going to notice that your light is either coming on too often or not enough. Correct this by adjusting the motion detector up or down to change its field of view. There may also be settings on the light itself, letting you set the range and automatic shutoff timer. A Safe and Sound Electric tech can help you figure these out.
How to Install a Security Light in a New Location
Replacing an existing light is a relatively simple task but installing a new one in a new location complicates things. For one thing, there is not going to be wiring sticking out of a pre-existing hole for you to use.
You will have to identify a location on an exterior wall to drill a hole for the new light, making sure you are not drilling through anything important.
Then, you will have to find a circuit that runs near where you are mounting the light and extend it, running wire through your walls to the light. This rewiring is the type of complex work that Safe and Sound Electric can help with.
You will have to install the box yourself and will have to secure the proper finishing for installing the light on vinyl siding or on stucco, whatever your home’s exterior features.
Even after all this, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise if you pick the wrong circuit and start tripping the breaker whenever the light comes on. Installing a light in a new location is a job best left to the professionals.
Going With Professional Installation
Installing a brand-new security light on your own is not the best idea for inexperienced homeowners, so trust the professionals at Safe and Sound Electric instead.
We will ensure that your new installation or replacement is safe, reliable, and effective. For professional service from licensed electricians, reach out to Safe and Sound Electric today.