How Long Does Motion Sensor Light Last? Reset Your Motion Sensor Light In 5 Easy Steps

We must agree; that technology has come a long way in improving quality of life through solid home security inventions, from CCTV cameras to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and now, the motion sensor detector. Speaking of motion sensors, how long does motion sensor light last?

Motion sensor lights will function differently, depending on the manufacturer’s brand. However, most motion sensors’ light will last up to 20 to 30 seconds. However, the amount of duration the light stays on can be extended whenever the sensor detects fresh movement.

A motion sensor light is an electronic device that measures and detects nearby objects and people. It is a home security necessity that would guard you against burglars, intrusive wild animals, and pets, protecting your child from sneaking out and breaking curfews, among other notable benefits. 

One impressive feature of advanced motion sensors is that you can uniquely configure them to fit your preferences. Generally, most motion sensors feature a timer that keeps the light on for a given time frame.

This happens after an object’s or human movement triggers. You can delay the time, especially if you are looking to save on your electricity bill and save its battery life.

The estimated time frame will extend every time the device picks up a new movement in the surroundings. Therefore, don’t be surprised if your motion sensor light lasts more than twenty minutes at a time.

However, as we said, smart motion sensors will allow you to change the settings to suit your unique needs. For instance, you’d want a motion sensor light in a storage room to last about five minutes as people mostly enter there to pick a few items, then leave immediately.

If this is the case, leaving the light on for twenty minutes when no one is using it beats logic.

On the flip side, you could also prefer a motion sensor light installed in the living room to last longer than twenty minutes. It is logical to device your motion detector light to stay longer in a frequented area like the living room or a study room.

Besides, you also want to save energy by customizing how long your outdoor motion detector stays on. Logically, a motion sensor installed in the patio where you are likely to hold several social gatherings stays on for a long time. 

On the contrary, people won’t gather in front of your garage, nor will you spend most of your time there. For this reason, you don’t need the motion sensor installed in such a location to stay on for an extended period.

Let’s learn more about motion sensor lights. Keep reading!

How Many Years Does a Motion Sensor Light Last?

How Long Does Motion Sensor Light Last?
Image Showing Motion Sensor Lights

We already know how instrumental motion sensors are in a home security system. Like any other device, you’d need to maintain your motion sensor light to improve its lifespan properly.

Therefore, with proper maintenance, a motion sensor will last you about 20 years. However, to last this long, you must ensure that the device is not exposed to factors that would damage or limit its functionality.

For instance, ensure it is protected from rust or electrical faults like circuits. This way, it will comfortably service you for at least two decades.

This is such a pocket-friendly security investment, especially at such a time when the world is constantly experiencing inflation. It would help even more to understand factors that affect and limit the lifespan of your motion sensors. So, let’s get to it!

The Following are Factors that Affect Your Motion Sensors:

  • Heat

Some motion sensors are specially designed to detect background heat. This heat is the default or standard state of the motion sensor. For this reason, movement from objects with their heat signature will trigger such a sensor to detect motion.

This is why a motion sensor can detect movement from tiny animals and humans as they have their heat signatures. This sounds like a good security idea; we agree! However, this feature also jeopardizes the motion sensor’s life span. 

If even the minutest of animal heat can trigger the device, it means that the device will constantly be sounding the alarm. In turn, this causes wear and tear, which will reflect in the reduced battery life of the device.

Additionally, passive motion sensors can barely function in temperatures above 35 degrees C. Therefore, your motion sensor will be less effective if installed in a warmer climate area, especially if the temperatures don’t drop at night. The sensors will be less likely to detect objects with almost the same temperature as the device.


Most devices in the current world are electricity-powered, thanks to changes in technological developments. However, debatable as it sounds, using quality batteries in your motion sensors would positively improve their lifespan. However, if you install the device in a high-traffic area where the sensors are constantly activated, the batteries will quickly wear out.

Battery-operated and wireless sensors will work best for you if you live in a home with thinner walls. This will allow a smooth transmission of radio frequencies from your motion sensors around the home.


Condensation often occurs when warm air gets into contact with cold surfaces. Excessive humidity levels will also trigger condensation. While some sensors are uniquely designed to detect humidity levels, others cannot effectively function if exposed to condensation.

Water is the worst enemy of any electronic device. Therefore, if moisture builds up inside your motion sensor, it will reduce its lifespan through premature aging and rusting. It will also result in short circuits or total breakdown of your device. All these can be nerve-wracking.

Also, you risk experiencing electrocution when getting into contact with a wet sensor, and the effects of this are unfathomable! Therefore, it will help if you look for humidity levels in the areas where you intend to mount our motion sensors.

Improper Placement and Mounting

There are specific recommended locations for installing your motion sensors. For instance, it will be wise to mount them on the room corners, the main bedroom, at all entrances, and in high-traffic areas.

However, much as installing them in high-traffic areas is a reasonable idea, you are also exposing them to more foreign objects that could damage its software.

Also, if you install them close to high-heat appliances in the house, they will be more prone to constant false alarms. This will, in turn, reduce their sensitivity and overall functionality.

Takeaway: A motion light detector will comfortably serve you for at least two decades if you mount and maintain it properly. Look for moisture, heat, and placement facts, as they impact your device’s lifespan.

Why Did My Motion Light Stop Working?

Like any other electrical appliance in your home, your motion sensor lights can experience problems from time to time. This could be a risk factor as the security device may fail to function in a critical situation. 

Therefore, understanding possible reasons why the motion sensor light is not working could help you identify the necessary solutions, lest it exposes you.

Discussed below are some reasons why your motion sensor light has stopped working:

1. The Sensor’s Aim.

Most motion sensor brands are designed to aim at a specific area. Therefore, if you notice your motion sensor lights going on more often than usual, it could be because of the sensor’s aim. You might have aimed it at a nearby street or a place where wild or foreign animals frequent at night. 

On the contrary, if the sensors are not going on completely, it could be because you’ve aimed it directly at the ground or into the side of the house.

You can solve this by exploring different sensor positions. Wait for darkness to approach and walk around in areas you want to protect to fine-tune your sensor’s aim.

2. Oversensitivity

While your motion sensor being sensitive enough will offer adequate protection from lurking danger, it could also be frustrating. 

The sensor device has sensitivity settings that you can configure to your liking. Therefore, while adjusting the sensitivity levels, ensure you make it moderately sensitive, as too much sensitivity will create room for false alarms. Something as small as a fly could trigger your motion sensor lights.

You also don’t want to lower the sensitivity too much, as it might fail to detect a prowler. Therefore, identify this setting in your device and fine-tune it to match your needs.

3. Presence of Dirt and Debris on Your Lighting

Your light motion sensor could have stopped working due to dirt and debris accumulated in the device. As small of an issue as it sounds, it could have profound effects on your device.

You can quickly solve this problem by checking for grime on your motion sensor light. Use a clean, soft cloth to wipe the sensor. Be careful while doing so not to scratch the glass and plastic surfaces.

4. A Faulty Bulb

Suppose you’ve checked and cleaned your sensor, but your light is still not functioning; you might need to check your bulb. Inspect the bulbs in your motion light since they experience wear and tear over time.

Consider storing spare bulbs around for easy access whenever you need them.

5. Interruptions On the Power Supply

Interruptions in the electricity supply due to power outages, power surges, and accidental flipping of switches or breakers. Such scenarios can negatively impact your sensor lights as they render them ineffective.

Your motion sensor light might stay on or off all the time, hence will not offer you security against invasion.

To troubleshoot this, turn off the main power supply for about thirty seconds. In this period, ensure the sensor experiences no motion. Switch the lights back on, and voila! Your sensor lights will be functioning as good as new ones.

6. Light Duration

Sometimes your motion sensor lighter could stay longer than recommended. Usually, your light security fixture stays for a minute or two. However, if you customize your settings for the lights to stay on for the maximum time frame, it could result in your sensor malfunctioning.

Solving this problem is a walk in the park! All you need to do is alter the light duration settings to your preferred time, then try the lights again.

7. Worn Out Batteries

Some motion sensor lights are battery-operated. Therefore, if the batteries reach their end of life, the whole sensor unit will be dysfunctional. Solve this by replacing the old batteries with new ones and trying the lights back on.

The listed factors and solutions can account for most of the problems your motion sensor light experiences. This is because most people ignore the general wear and tear routine maintenance until their device experiences an actual problem.

However, if you troubleshoot all the possible problems but still can’t get your motion sensor to function, you might need to hire a licensed electrical repair expert. The problem could be in the wiring or the motion light hardware, which might require a replacement.

How to Reset Motion Sensor Light

Resetting your motion sensor light is one of the most effective solutions when it stops working. As discussed above, our motion sensor light could stop working due to sensitivity issues, dead batteries, and interference in the electricity supply, among other factors.

You might think your fixture is broken when you need a reset and your security device is back to normal. Take a few minutes to troubleshoot the precise cause of the malfunction. You will be surprised at how much hassle and money you’ll save yourself!

Here are some quick tips on how to reset your motion sensor light:

  • Switch off the Circuit Breaker

Identify the primary circuit breaker that powers the motion sensor. Switch it off for thirty seconds, then immediately turn it on again.

This is an automatic way of resetting most motion sensor light models. However, some brands may require you to switch your circuit breaker for extended periods. This could last up to an hour before the motion detector resets its normal functioning.

  • Turn the switch on and off.

This will apply if our fixture uses a light switch. Please switch it on for two seconds, then off for two seconds. Switch it back on again, and you’ll have to reset it.

  • Rapidly turn the light switch on and off.

This also applies if the switch powers your motion sensor light. Rapidly turn it on and off about four times. This will make the light stay in continuously.

Once the light remains on, switch it off and give it about five seconds. After five seconds, switch it back on again. This way, our sensor will have rest so that the light will stay on.

  • Adjust Your Device’s Sensitivity

Sensitivity is also a primary issue affecting a motion sensor’s functionality. If your device can adjust the sensitivity level, adjust it to less or moderate sensitivity.

Besides, you don’t want the alarm constantly going off whenever an animal as small as a mouse passes by. Only make it sensitive enough to detect a prowler.

  • Fix the Bulb

A faulty bulb is another common reason your motion sensor light is not working. Consider replacing the bulb in the light fixture. This will help you verify if it is a bulb issue or another underlying problem.

After successfully completing the suggested steps, you will determine if your motion sensor light requires a reset, a new bulb set, or a complete replacement.

We now know how to reset our motion sensor lights. However, when should you reset a motion sensor light?

Under typical circumstances, expect your motion sensor lights to turn on whenever a person, vehicle, animal, or other moving object gets into its range.

However, consider resetting your motion sensor lights under the following circumstances:

  • If large moving objects like people or vehicles do not trigger the sensor light.
  • Suppose the lights stay permanently on. A perfectly functioning motion light sensor will turn off after a few minutes of picking up motion. Typically, the sensor will go off once an object ceases to move.
  • If the device’s sensitivity is lower than usual, it fails to detect motion consistently.

How Do I Make My Motion Sensor Lights Stay On Longer?

If you are unfamiliar with wiring your home’s security system, learning to prolong the period your motion sensor light stays on can challenge you.

After the first purchase, you won’t have to buy new sensors constantly. You have to hook them up in the same spot to function. Luckily, the motion sensor comes with an instructional manual that is quite manageable.

The following are helpful tips to make your motion sensor lights stay on for longer:

  • Install them In Areas Where You are Most Active.

Installing motion sensor lights in a high-traffic area is well recommended. Similarly, you’d want to install the device where you’ll be most active. For instance, install security lights in your yard if you are a runner. Not only will they be most effective here, but they will also help you conserve energy during darkness.

You can also install them in areas where you keep your valuables, such as the main bedroom. However, while doing so, ensure to mount them away from other lights.

  • Avoid Using the Motion Sensor Lights Unnecessarily

Using your motion sensor light for less time will also help ensure it stays on longer. For instance, you do not need to leave the lights on at work or on vacation.

Consider adjusting the settings on how much you leave your motion sensor lights according to how much you are leaving them on at night.

  • Reduce Energy

We are always looking for ways to mitigate our energy use. We use more efficient appliances and the most cost-effective ways to heat and cool homes during different seasons. However, with a motion sensor, you can reduce energy consumption by a straightforward act: adjusting the sensitivity settings!

A motion sensor’s sensitivity determines how much movement it needs to pick before triggering the alarm.

A standard motion sensor light contains three sensitivity levels: low, medium, and high. Therefore, the higher the sensitivity level, the more movement it needs before hutting off. Also, the more sensitive it is, the less likely the batteries will run down.

Here are steps to follow to adjust the settings:

  • Switch off the motion sensor light from the switch located on the morning’s side.
  • Use a small Phillips screwdriver to unhinge the battery cover. 
  • Detach the batteries from the device, taking keen notes on the positive and negative sides.
  • Turn the switch back on to turn on the motion sensor lights.
  • Use the screwdriver to turn the small dial clockwise until it settles at its highest setting tagged “high.”
  • Replace the battery and cover it.
  • Please switch off the motion sensor light from the switch and test it out. It will remain open for about thirty seconds with movement. However, the darkness within the given area will also determine the time frame.

You can also adjust the dial in a counterclockwise direction to reach the level of choice if you want more time.

NOTE: If you’ve mounted your motion sensor in a high-traffic area like the staircase, it will help to maintain a low setting to conserve energy.

  • Add a Bypass Switch

Adding a bypass switch will help you to power the light independently. With the switch, you can turn the motion sensor on and off and keep it in an on position. 

You will turn on the bypass switch to turn the lights on. This way, the sensor light will be directly powered by the hotwire from the switch’s line. The light will stay ON for as long as you keep the switch on. Therefore, it won’t motor if the motion sensor detects a movement.

We now know how to make the motion sensor stay on for longer, but why do we want the light to stay on?

The motion sensor lights will automatically turn off the lights if they pick up no movement after a pre-set timer elapse. Think of this; if you’ve set a twenty minutes timer, and the area aimed is empty, the light will stay on for twenty more minutes before it goes off. This time range is adjustable through the settings.

You’ll want your motion sensor light to stay on if you use it to illuminate your backyard garden.

You might also prefer the light to stay on at night for security purposes, regardless of whether or not it detects a movement.

You may also want your indoor motion sensor light to stay on in your study area or the stairway.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Outdoor Motion Sensor Light?

Several factors influence the cost of a motion sensor light installation. These are the number of lights installed, the type of sensors, and the primary power source, among other factors.

Generally, you will incur between $350 and $500 for a licensed professional to install your motion sensor light.

The project scope will also influence the charges your installer will impose. For instance, you will incur approximately $250 if an electrician replaces a CFL light at an existing electrical box.

How to Install Motion Sensor Light

We’ve discussed a lot about motion sensor light. The primary reminder is that this device is necessary to enhance your security. It also offers you convenience when taking your garbage out or struggling to identify the right key from the door.

Described below is a procedure on how to install a motion sensor light:

  • Turn off the Power to the Light

Most outdoor motion sensor lights are installed on a current porch light. Therefore, go to your home’s electrical box and cut off the power to the existing light.

  • Unscrew the Old Light

Remove the existing light with the help of a screwdriver. Avoid pulling too hard away from the wall, as the electrical wiring still connects the light. 

A wire tester will ensure your safety by ensuring no power is running to them before handling them.

  • Detach the Wire Connections

You will notice three wires attached to the light; a white wire, a green or copper, and a black or red wire. Disconnect all of them after ensuring they are not receiving any power.

  • Mount the Adjustable Crosspiece from the Light Package to the Electrical Box.

The motion sensor kit is often sold alongside a small crosspiece bracket consisting of several holes. The holes will allow you to attach them to any electrical box, based on the size.

Fix the crosspiece bracket to fit your electrical box and screw it in.

  • Place the rubber gasket that comes with the light around the outside edge of the new fixture.

The light package you’ve just purchased consists of a rubber basket that perfectly fits against the fixture’s base on the wall.

Slip the rubber gasket over the wiring on the light and in its rightful position.

  • Connect the Wiring with a Wire Cap

Ensure you correctly connect the wiring. Attach the white/neutral wires and the black/red/yellow.

Hold them together using a wire cap. Also, electrical tape will help keep the wire cap in place if used at the bottom.

  • Screw the light assembly into the electrical box bracket with the gasket in place.

Once you’ve finished taping off the wiring, push it into the electrical box to create room to fit the light assembly on the wall.

Your setup will consist of two screws which you’ll use to attach the light assembly to the cross bracket. While doing so, check to ensure the rubber gasket is perfectly aligned on the back of the fixture.

Hold it against the wall and screw it in position.

  •  Screw the Bulbs in

Your assembly is in position at this point so that you can screw in the bulbs sold along with it.

You can change the bulb if the one sold to you is not your liking.

  • Seal the Fixture

Restore the power to the light and ensure it’s fully functional. Now seal the light fixture where it attaches to the wall plate. Do this using a silicon caulk around the casing to prevent moisture from entering.

After installing the motion sensor light, you want to test it to ensure it functions as desired. If not, you can adjust the settings to suit your needs.

Here’s a Video On How to Install Motion Sensor Light:

Final Thoughts

Doubtlessly, a motion sensor is a great integration into your home security system. It will alert you by the lights as soon as it detects a movement. This article has discussed…

How Long Does Motion Sensor Light Last?

Most motion sensor lights in the market will last about twenty minutes. However, this time frame will vary depending on the settings adjusted on your specific device. Also, the motion sensor light will last twenty years if properly maintained.

Have we covered all you want to know about a motion sensor light? Let us know!

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