Resetting Motion Detector Lights- How to Reset Motion Sensor Lights In 4 Easy Steps

More and more households and facilities are buying into motion detector lighting systems as technology becomes stylish and unobtrusive. Interestingly, this technology is not new, as the detection of infrared energy, the primary mechanism in a light sensor, has been in the market before its use in home lighting and security systems.

The desire to achieve more with less extends into security systems, where these devices provide high-level security. In addition, motion detectors take up little space while using less energy than older security systems, making them a perfect addition to your facility.

However, sometimes the devices experience some hiccups. But you need not panic. The issue is something straightforward that’s easy to solve.

Further, here is a detailed discussion of what to do when resetting motion detector lights.

The first step is to turn off the circuit breaker powering the motion detector lights. Next, give it at least thirty seconds and turn it back on.

This process automatically resets the sensors and fixes the issues. However, consult the product manual; some old models need the breaker off for an hour.

Alternatively, turn the detector’s light on and off five to ten times quickly. The lights remain on continuously.

Then, switch them off, wait for five to ten seconds, and turn the lights back on. Then, check if the unit is reset.

Motion detector lights are an excellent modern-day security solution and should always be working. Thus, read this article for more insight into these devices and various troubleshooting techniques to keep them functional. 

What Is a Motion Detector?

A motion detector is an electronic device using a sensor to detect nearby objects or people, making it an essential component of any security system.

The sensor sends an alert to the system upon detecting motion, and with newer systems, to your cellphone. Moreover, you can configure the motion sensor to alert your monitoring team.

Motion detectors detect movement using a pyroelectric sensor, a unit with two photoactive diode areas to translate infrared light from an object into an electric charge.

Two pyroelectric sensors are next to each other, so any differential signal changes activate the motion sensor.

Furthermore, the unit has four photoactive diode areas to minimize false alarms and improve performance and accuracy.

Also, state-of-the-art motion sensors support internet connectivity, allowing smooth integration into the Internet of Things software. Thus, you can integrate occupancy measurements with other sensor outputs, like temperature sensors, boosting building intelligence and management.

Generally, the primary principle of motion sensors is to sense burglars and alert your control panel, giving a heads-up to your monitoring center. They react to different situations, such as movement in the living room, doors and windows unbolting, or closing.

We have different types of motion sensors, namely: passive infrared, microwave, tomographic, ultrasonic, and combined sensors.

  1. Passive Infrared Sensors. All warm-blooded creatures produce infrared radiation. Thus, these sensors have a thin pyroelectric film responding to IR radiation by emitting electricity. In addition, they activate a burglar alarm during this electricity influx.
  2. Microwave Sensor. This unit generates microwave pulses and circulates its reflection off items to detect motion. It is very sensitive and works on nonmetallic objects outside the target range.
  3. Ultrasonic Sensor. This detector is often active or passive. The latter requires you to pay attention to metal-on-metal or glass-breaking sounds, but it is a sensitive device prone to fake alarms.

Moreover, active ultrasonic sensors generate sound waves, determining the reflection of a moving object’s waves.

  1. Tomographic Sensor. This product generates radio waves and detects intrusion. It notices through objects and walls and is often positioned to make a radio wave net. As a result, you cover large areas such as storage units and warehouses.
  2. Combined types of Motion Sensors. These motion detectors mix various sensors to decrease false alarms. Further, dual sensors only alert you when they both sense motion. For example, a passive Infrared or a dual microwave sensor stars out on the PIR sensor setting. But the alarm will only sound when the remaining sensor is tipped.

Pros of Motion Detectors

Protection and health are the pinnacles of the mind when owning a facility. Hence, besides emphasizing ordinary maintenance, you search for ways to improve the property’s safety. Below are the benefits of installing a motion detector.

  • Enhanced Safety

Motion detectors provide safety from unwanted human beings, raccoons, mountain lions, bears, and coyotes, depending on the risks in your neighborhood. Besides, these creatures will be scared away once the outside fixtures come on as they try to maneuver your property.

Motion sensors are beneficial when walking on slick surfaces like snow and ice at night: thus, significantly lessening injury possibilities.

  • Improved Home Security

Vandals, burglars, and criminals usually target houses when occupants are away or asleep. Further, they prefer to break into domestic units quietly since acquaintances will alert the authorities.

So, security experts encourage having motion detectors outside your property. In addition, you can deter criminals from focusing on your property using sensor floodlights and door lighting.

Even better, these lighting systems activate automatically when anyone comes too close to your private home or facility.

  • More Convenience

A movement sensor gives you the needed lighting as you pull into your driveway. In addition, the porch mild switches on as you step on it.

This way, you can comfortably do various tasks outdoors at night without risks.

  • Cost and Energy Savings

In addition to providing protection and comfort, installing a motion detector in your home reduces your power consumption and keeps electricity payments low.

Moreover, the unit rids the need to maintain your lighting 24/7 and, thus, reduces the power quantity used by your family.

Cons of Motion Detectors

  • Ineffective in High Temperatures

Passive motion sensors struggle to work in temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius. Hence, they do not work well in warmer climates, especially if the temperature does not drop at night.

  • Slowly Moving Objects

The sensor is less sensitive to objects moving slowly or directly toward it than horizontally.

Further, animals and animals may be aware of this aspect and move slowly or directly toward the unit, preventing triggers.

Lastly, consider where you position the motion sensors, for instance, in areas with more foot traffic, like living rooms, kitchens, and entryways.

In addition, place them in rooms with valuables, such as the home office or the bedroom.

What Is Motion Detector Light?

How to Reset Motion Detector Lights
Motion Sensor Lights

A motion detector light is an electrical system that works after detecting motion in the area. The light bulb connects with the detector and switches on in response to human or animal movement.

This light works well in areas that hold devices, such as driveways, front porches, walls, ceilings, and house exteriors. Further, it is a popular alternative for reducing a home’s electricity consumption.

Motion light sensor detectors detect motion and trigger responses like passive infrared detectors.

Remember, the word passive does not mean that the sensor emits infrared. Instead, it receives infrared data emitted by a person or animal.

Further, a passive infrared motion sensor comprises a printed circuit board with pyroelectric sensor chips housed in mounting structures.

This board is the decoding unit and interprets the signals the chip receives. Then, the chip responds to the temperature when the infrared amount surpasses the pre-set limit. As a result, the pyroelectric chip releases a signal, activating the light or an alarm.

The manufacturer builds a small window into the mounted unit for the infrared light to reach the chip sensor. As a result, they expose the sensor to the designated monitored location.

In addition, the window is transparent for infrared light to avoid blocking signals. But it protects the unit from bugs and dust that trigger false responses.

Therefore, be careful when selecting an installation area to avoid false responses. Also, avoid contact with HVAC and air vents to prevent air temperature fluctuations from activating the sensor.

We have multiple motion detectors. Furthermore, how each motion sensor light works depends on the product type.

For example, lighting technology utilizes passive infrared motion sensors, detecting infrared energy to detect objects. We call it a passive system because it sees nothing but waits until there is movement or heat before switching on the lights.

On the other hand, the light technology from active infrared waves consists of receivers and transmitters. 

We call them active because they send signals and waves into the target environment to function. Then, the system waits for the signs to return to the unit for reading.

So, the waves detect disturbances when people or pets walk into the room. Then, convey this information to the unit.

How to Reset Motion Detector Lights

Although motion detector lights are incredibly convenient, adjusting them correctly is essential. Otherwise, they will not come when you need them or will come on too frequently due to excess sensitivity.

For example, you don’t want your motion detector light to turn on when a rabbit hops through the yard or a bird flies by the window. On the other hand, you want the light to go on when a guest walks up on the porch. So, the unit should only be sensitive enough to catch significant trespasses.

Unfortunately, a motion detector light may stay on, not turn on, or trigger needlessly. Thus, you must evaluate and reset the unit to get it back to work. Below is a straightforward procedure to help out!

  • Step One

Switch off the circuit breaker powering the motion sensor light for about 30 seconds. Then, turn it on.

This way, you will reset the device. But remember, some brands need the breaker off for at least one hour.

  • Step Two

Turn on the light switch. Then, turn it off for two seconds and turn it on again. If a wall switch feeds the motion detector light, the process will often reset the unit.

  • Step Three

Turn the switch on and off rapidly four times. Eventually, the light will stay on continuously. Next, turn off the switch once the light is on, wait for five seconds, and turn it on again. The light should remain off, and reset the sensor.

  • Step Four

Replace light bulbs in the fixture to verify it is not a bad bulb issue. Also, you’ll know if your motion sensor light only needs a reset after completing the above steps. Otherwise, your best action plan may be to update your outdoor lighting.

NB: Adjust the device if you can change its sensitivity level. After all, you do not need the light every time a chipmunk passes by, but it should be sensitive enough to detect trespassers on your property.

Here’s How to Install Motion Sensor Lights:

Why Won’t My Motion Sensor Lights Turn Off?

Motion sensor lights run into problems during our daily usage, causing noticeable inconveniences to homeowners. Unlike regular mechanical and manual controlled, stable, and durable light switches, these sensor lights have electric components controlling the light. Thus, they are more sensitive to power surges and man-made mistakes.

Below are why motion sensor lights won’t turn off after installation and possible remedies.

1. Motion Sensor Faces Wrong Direction

Failure to adjust the unit after installation causes its lights to remain on. Also, whether the light switch on occupancy is on the ceiling, a motion sensor light, or the wall, the unit uses a PIR motion sensor to detect movement.

The passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor’s detection range is fan-shaped, usually 150 to 180 degrees wide, with a detection distance of ten to 30 feet.

Hence, adjusting the unit’s window or lens to face right to the targeted area, such as the pathway or front door, is essential.

When poorly positioned, the motion sensor does not collect signals from all possible sources, such as cats and dogs, the window’s hot wind, and the HVAC.

As such, they trigger the device as a valid ‘motion,’ keeping the light on.

  • Solution

Adjust the unit to face the targeted direction to cover the detection area. This way, it can effectively receive infrared signals without distraction from noise sources.

2. People Near the Motion Sensor

Interestingly, users misunderstand how passive infrared motion sensors detect trespassers. Some test the unit by standing aside, waiting for the lights to turn off, yet complaining that they stay on.

They think that the sensor does not detect movement but rather the presence of warm’s body heat or infrared signals.

However, the unit can detect you with its wide 180-degree detection range. Furthermore, human body heat can reflect from mirrors and trigger motion sensors even when you’re standing behind the device.

  • Solution

Test the motion sensor light’s functionality by staying away from the unit or leaving the room. This way, it will not detect your body heat.

3. Wrong Wirings

The light can turn on with the wrong wiring but cannot automatically turn off. Besides, you should connect the motion sensor to the light load’s wire to decide whether it sends power to the light. This way, the unit can control the light on or off.

If your hotwire wires to the light’s load wire, your home source directly powers the light. Hence, it bypasses the motion sensor, causing it not to work.

  • Solution

Re-check the light switch or occupancy/vacancy motion sensor wirings to confirm they are correct and consistent with the manufacturer’s directives.

Alternatively, you can check online tutorials on wiring motion sensors to existing lights or installing a light switch.

4. Long Time Delay

Generally, a time delay is how long the light remains when the motion sensor does not detect trespassers. For example, if the stipulated delay duration is relatively long, say 15 minutes, the sensor light remains on after you’ve left the room and appear like it does not go off.

Moreover, the time delay resets and starts counting from the beginning when the sensor detects motion again during the time delay.

So, there’s a high chance that your device continuously detects motions before the time delay expires. As a result, the light remains on.

  • Solution

Check your unit, set it to the minimal time delay, and observe if the light turns off. If the time delay is the issue, select a different pre-set time delay until you get the best adjustment.

5. High Sensitivity

Most manufacturers set motion sensors to a high sensitivity default, allowing them to detect movement from longer distances.

Usually, a motion sensor has two detection range levels. First, it can detect large motions within the stipulated area while being more sensitive to detecting small motions accurately.

Also, the unit receives motion signals from distracting motions, such as running animals or moving cars from afar, thus keeping the sensor’s lights on.

  • Solution

Choose a low sensitivity level or cover the motion sensor to prevent it from detecting motion and observe whether the light goes off. Further, if the sensor’s sensitivity is the issue, adjust it to low sensitivity.

What Are the 3 Settings On a Motion Detector Light?

Motion sensors have three settings: Sensitivity, timer, and lux. These adjustments determine how sensitive the unit’s light is to movement, what darkness level it needs to turn on, and how long it stays on after detecting motion.

  • Sensitivity Setting

This metric determines how sensitive the unit is to motion. The higher the sensitivity, the easier the device activates with movement. Hence, the light turns on quickly even when no one is present.

Conversely, the lower the sensitivity, the less sensitive the device is to movement. Thus, the light does not turn on quickly. It only activates when someone is present.

All motion detector light bulbs are typically uniquely sensitive, allowing you to adjust them depending on the range setting. Further, even the slightest movement, such as a butterfly or a falling leaf, turns on the light if the unit’s sensitivity is too high.

Therefore, lower the unit’s sensitivity to capture more significant and essential movements to keep the bulb from burning out.

Alternatively, avoid placing the motion detector near a busy street to avoid unnecessary triggers.

Speak to a security expert if in doubt about the needed adjustments. This way, you’ll avoid guesswork or ruining the system.

  • Timer Setting

The sensor’s timer setting determines how long its light remains after detecting motion. 

Moreover, the higher the timer, the longer the light stays on. As a result, it’s helpful if you want the light to remain on for a long time after someone leaves the room.

However, this aspect can result in the light remaining on all night when someone moves around in the targeted area.

Also, the lower the detector’s timer, the shorter the light stays on. This aspect is helpful if you want the light to remain on shortly after leaving the room.

  • Lux Setting

Finally, the lux adjustment determines the darkness level required by the light to turn on. For instance, the higher the lux, the darker the targeted region must be for the light to go on. This aspect is essential when you want the light to turn on in dark conditions.

On the other hand, the lower the lux, the less dark the environment should be for the light to turn on. Further, this aspect is beneficial when you want the light to go on in less dark conditions.

How to Install a Motion Detector Light

Although we have thousands of possibilities for motion sensor lights, they have varying assembly and installation procedures. Moreover, they are easier to mount than ordinary indoor light fixtures.

So, here is a standard installation procedure for motion detectors.

Step One: Remove the Old Light

  • Switch Off the Power

Avoid replacing motion sensor lights with the power on, lest you risk being shocked, turning a beautiful moment into an ugly one. Therefore, first, turn off the power in any electrical project.

In addition, turn off the correct breaker, then evaluate the wiring behind the light with a non-contact voltage detector or voltmeter. This way, you are sure that the power is off.

A motion sensor does not light during the day, making it challenging to tell whether it is on. Besides, the bulb may appear burned out despite being operational last night.

Alternatively, perhaps you turned off the wrong breaker, or someone else may turn the switch the lights on. Hence, verify the power is off before proceeding.

  • Remove the Old Fixture

Motion sensor installers mostly mount it to the wall with two small bolts with decorative nuts or screws, making the fixture easy to uninstall.

However, get a helper to hold the light as you test for power and unwire the unit if it is large or heavy.

Moreover, lightweight fixtures hang from the wires for a short duration without harm. But heavier one needs support when you complete the work behind them.

Next, pull the light away from the wall with the bolts and screws removed. Otherwise, old wiring can be loose in the wire nuts, causing the splice to come out and exposing you to bare wires.

  • Double-Check That the Power Is Off

Confirm with the wires exposed one last time to ensure the power is off. Use a voltmeter or a voltage detector. Further, mark where the exposed black and white wires go but remember that older homes have wires that do not follow current color codes.

  • Cut the Wires to the Old Fixture

Remove wire nuts or cut the wires to the old fixture, if necessary. Cut it as long as possible and remove the insulation from the last half inch with a knife or wire strippers.

Also, there may be a ground for bare wire attached to the sensor’s light. However, if you notice a disconnect, put the old fixture aside for disposal.

Step Two: Install the New Fixture

Multiple fixtures have a bracket that needs you to attach to the box, with the sensor’s light attached to the bracket. This way, you can make some adjustments to vertically mount the fixture and attach it to different size boxes.   

But still, read and understand the manufacturer’s mounting directives before proceeding. Some lights need minor assembly, and mounting brackets differ.

Nevertheless, here is a standardized procedure for most motion sensors in the market.

  • Attach the Bracket to the Box

Attach the brackets needed for the lights using the provided screws. However, you can use 8/32 machine screws in case they are missing. In addition, you can use #8 or #10 sheet metal screws when screw holes are stripped out.

Work the wires from behind, attaching them easily. But ensure that you can fold them behind the bracket after light installation. 

  • Splice the Wires Together

Use wire nuts to splice the wires together. Remember, white and black wires splice together, though this rule is not cast in stone.

However, some scenarios have different colored wires spliced in a box that goes to the switch, not the light. But at least one white and black wire should go to the light fixture.

Splice the ground wire on the light with the one in the box or attach it to a screw on the bracket.

You can use either method. Only ensure you ground the fixture with the ground wire in the box.

  • Test Each Wire Nut

You can test the wire nuts by holding the nut in one hand and tugging it firmly. It is better for the splice to fail now than when you fold the wires into the box where you cannot see them.

  • Mount the Fixture

Attach the fixture to the wall according to the manufacturer’s directive, installing the light bulbs as necessary.

Also, avoid putting in a CFL lamp, which mainly works for cold temperatures. Worse still, they are unideal when outdoor temperatures drop to near freezing.

  • Turn on the Power

Test the project by turning on the power and switch. Further, the light does not come on, especially if you’re working during the day.

However, most lights have test switches to help with testing regardless of motion or daylight.

So, verify that the sensor’s light works and reset the switch to a working position. In addition, remember that most devices have multiple settings determining how long the light stays on after detecting motion.

Lastly, you can set the motion detector’s sensitivity to prevent the light from turning on after detecting small animals or passing car traffic.

How Do I Know If My Motion Sensor Is Working?

You can conduct a walk test to verify your motion sensor works optimally. Consider the following steps.

  • Remove the device’s cover by identifying and pressing the rectangular-shaped button at the sensor’s bottom. Then, check for a red LED to turn on.
  • Leave the unit’s field of view for about 30 seconds or until the red LED goes off.
  • Walk close to the sensors and check whether the LED illuminate after detecting motion. Moreover, walk across the sensor instead of towards it for a better result.
  • The device repeats this process and waits 30 seconds before lighting up before detecting motion.
  • The motion detector remains in the test mode for three minutes. However, you’ll need to repeat the process in case of additional testing time.

NB: Understanding the technology utilized in the motion sensors helps in the testing. Also, tamper the unit by pressing the sensor’s right side button to verify it signals appropriately.

Alternatively, you can use LED lights on the sensor’s keypad to test it. The procedure is as follows.

  • Disarm the system.
  • Avoid walking in front of the sensor for three minutes.
  • Walk before the detector and expect its home button to flash yellow.

Finally, you can set your alarm in away mode to confirm it’s working. But first, arm the system in away mode. Next, keep your phone within reach to speak to the monitoring station and remember your verbal safe word/ password.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When Should I Reset My Motion Sensor Light?

Typically a motion sensor light turns on after detecting a vehicle, person, or moving objects within the sensor range. But after a power blink or with time, the lights quit working or become less responsive.

Scenarios requiring a motion sensor light reset include when the light remains on permanently or for long periods instead of going off when the movement stops. A working light turns off within a few minutes after sensing motion.

In addition, the unit needs a reset when it does not sense large moving objects like vehicles and vehicles, and the light seems less sensitive than usual.

So, consider troubleshooting the motion sensor if one of these situations sounds familiar.

  • How Do I Troubleshoot My Motion Light Detector?

The recommended way to reset a motion light detector is to turn it off and on for thirty seconds or longer. Also, switch off the power at the breaker to give it time to reset.

If the above does not work, the sensor or the bulb is to blame. 

Replace the bulb and confirm whether the unit works, or consult an expert to advise on replacing the sensor. Further, cover the sensor to test the light. But if it fails to work, consider replacing the light. 

  • Can I override My Sensor to Use Its Light Normally?

You can override your sensor and use the light manually. Besides, most detectors allow you to operate the light normally when needed.

Turn the light switch off-on-off-on in quick succession. It will remain on and won’t go off until you manually turn it off using the switch.

Then, turn the light switch off and leave it for one minute when you want to use the sensor again. You’ll automatically reinstate the sensor when you turn the light back on.

  • How Do I Avoid Confusion When Working With Motion Detectors?

Accidentally turning motion sensors off, thinking they’re another house switch, or forgetting which switch operates the unit confuses most homeowners.

Thankfully, we have a few surefire strategies to guarantee clarity after mounting the devices.

First, position a small sticker on the switch controlling the sensor. Or tape over the switch, so it isn’t easy to turn the light off if you’re tired of kids playing with it.

Alternatively, get a qualified electrician to change the switch into a push button for easy identification.


Whereas motion detection was initially for ship and plane detection, we currently have the privilege of utilizing the mechanism in our homes. Besides, the unit’s lights are all the rage; most homeowners prefer them for domestic uses.

Unfortunately, as with most electric devices, motion detector lights need occasional resetting. For instance, the lights may remain on after someone has left the vicinity or may detect motion around the targeted area. 

The above scenarios compromise your home’s security; the goal is to resolve the issue and get the unit working again. So, check out the troubleshooting or resetting process as described in this write-up:

Resetting Motion Detector Lights

First, ensure you turn the switch off, turn the light on for about four seconds, and then turn it off. Repeat this exercise four to five times. 

Also, unplug the power and wait for a few minutes, as this fixes the problem in most cases. Then, walk in front of the light for 60 seconds to check whether it works correctly.

Your goal is to have the lights stay on when needed. So, cover the sensor with black tape and turn it off or adjust the device’s sensitivity level in the light settings.

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