How much does it cost to install outdoor motion sensor lights?
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Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights Installation Cost Guide
Updated: April 11, 2023
Outdoor motion sensor lights are one of the most effective safety measures you can install in your home. When strategically installed, they can reduce the likelihood of property crimes, such as burglary or vandalism, occurring on your property. While they cannot prevent intruders from breaking in, motion sensor lights provide an added layer of protection for your home, often acting as a deterrent for potential home invaders. They can also reduce the likelihood of injury when walking outside at night and provide comfort for homeowners, all while saving on energy.
The cost of motion sensor light installation depends on quite a few different factors. This can include the number of lights being installed, the type of lights, the type of sensors, the main power source, among other things. On average, homeowners should expect to pay from $350 to $500 for a professional to install their motion sensor lights. For example, installing a new LED sensor floodlighting a new location typically costs $400. Prices also vary due to project scope. If an electrician replaces a CFL light at an existing electrical box, this will cost around $250. If, for example, an electrician is installing a halogen decorative light with remote in a new location, the cost will run higher at around $800.
Motion Sensor Lights Prices
|Motion Sensor Lights Costs|
|National average cost||$400|
Motion Sensor Lights Prices by Type of Light
When it comes to this type of fixture, homeowners have many options for different lights they want to use on their property. Some of the most common types of lights include spotlight, decorative, floodlight, and smart lights. With so many options, prices range anywhere from $15 to $300, depending on the type of light installed. This only factors in the cost of the materials rather than the installation.
|Type||Average Cost per Light (Materials Only)|
|Spotlight||$15 - $65|
|Floodlight||$35 - $200|
|Decorative||$40 - $110|
|Smart||$100 - $300|
Motion Sensor Outdoor Spotlight
For motion sensor outdoor lighting, the average cost of these lights ranges from $15 to $65 each. These fixtures are one of the most affordable options to install around your property. They are used for security purposes, designed to shine a bright light on a certain area if anyone passes. They can be useful for detecting someone walking around the outside of your home.
Motion Sensor Outdoor Floodlight
For homeowners interested in floodlights, the price ranges from $35 to $200. Motion sensor floodlights are one of the most popular options for home lighting. They are incredibly versatile, shine brightly, and light up a very large area. Floodlights come in various light types, from LED to HID bulbs, giving homeowners the option of different luminosities.
Decorative Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights
For decorative outdoor motion sensor lights, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $110 each. These lights are designed for decorative and aesthetic qualities rather than for security purposes or lighting up space. They come in various styles and can be positioned around yards, decks, and doorways. They are a good option to enhance the look of gardens and yards, adding security and ambiance to any space.
Smart Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights
For homeowners looking for added security, the price of smart outdoor motion sensor lights ranges from $100 to $300 each. Smart lights are among the most high-tech options you can choose. They come with many extra features like built-in cameras and security alerts. They have the power to connect with other smart devices around your home for various features. They are useful for security and appeal to those who have invested in smart home accessories and are searching for something more advanced.
Security Lights Cost by Type of Bulb
When deciding which type of motion sensor lights homeowners should choose, another important factor they need to consider is the type of bulb they want illuminating their property. The most common bulbs are CFL, fluorescent, LED, halogen, and HID. With so many options, prices range anywhere from $2 to $50, depending on the type of light installed. This only factors in the cost of the materials rather than the installation.
|Type of Bulb||Average Cost per Bulb (Materials Only)|
|Fluorescent||$2 - $15|
|Halogen||$3 - $12|
|CFL||$3 - $15|
|LED||$5 - $50|
|HID||$10 - $30|
Fluorescent Motion Sensor Light
For homeowners interested in fluorescent lights, prices vary based on bulb size, ranging from $2 to $15 per light. Similar to CFL bulbs, fluorescent bulbs use fluorescence to produce light. While they are most commonly found in schools and office buildings, they are becoming increasingly popular for indoor and outdoor lighting, particularly motion sensor lights. They can produce a light that can be harsh indoors but is very effective outdoors.
Halogen Security Light
With prices ranging from $3 to $12 per light, halogen lights are a traditional lighting option. That said, they are less energy-efficient and eco-friendly than LED lights. They also burn out faster than LED lights and are increasingly more difficult to find. In spite of this, halogen lights remain a classic choice since they burn the brightest. They are ideal for lighting up larger areas and are often used for floodlights.
CFL Motion Sensor Light
Homeowners interested in CFL bulbs expect to pay $3 to $15 per light. CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs are smaller versions of traditional fluorescent light bulbs and are incredibly versatile. They vary greatly in size, color, and brightness. Because of their extensive variety, they are a very popular choice for outdoor sensor lights.
LED Sensor Light
On average, LED bulbs cost $5 to $50 per light. LED lights are fitted with modern LED bulbs, which are more efficient and eco-friendly than classic halogen bulbs. They offer varying degrees of brightness and can be found in different colors and sizes. You get great value with an LED bulb because it can last for years without replacement.
Similar to halogen bulbs, HID lights range from $10 to $30 per light. Often found in newer vehicles, HID (high-intensity discharge) sensor lights offer a compromise between LED and halogen lights, making them an increasingly popular option for homeowners. They produce a very bright light and last longer than halogen bulbs, yet are not as energy efficient as LED lights. Still, they are ideal for lighting up large outdoor areas because of their luminosity.
Motion Sensor Lights Cost by Type of Sensor
Motion sensor lights are available in many different types, bulbs, sizes, and brightness. These detectors can be activated in different ways. Some detect vibrations, while others use thermal sensors to detect body heat. Some of these are more effective than others in certain situations, and the price of your light is affected by the type you choose. Prices for these detectors vary greatly, ranging from $30 to $1,000. The table below shows the most common types and average costs.
|Type||Average Costs per Light (Materials Only)|
|Microwave||$30 - $50|
|Vibration||$30 - $50|
|Passive Infrared||$30 - $100|
|Passive||$30 - $100|
|Automatic||$30 - $100|
|Ultrasonic||$40 - $100|
|Area Reflective||$40 - $100|
|Dual-Technology||$50 - $300|
|Remote||$50 - $500|
|Tomographic||$300 - $1,000|
Microwave Motion Sensor
One of the more affordable options, prices for microwave motion sensors range from $30 to $50 per light. This device emits waves of microwave radiation into the surrounding area, and when something disrupts those waves, it activates the light. Microwave motion sensors are among the most affordable options. They are relatively reliable but lack the range of other models.
Vibration Motion Sensor
Coming in at $30 to $50 each, a motion sensor light equipped with a vibration sensor activates in response to vibrations in the surrounding area. If the device detects vibrations, it turns on the light. These models are useful for monitoring movement around yards and decks, but they do not have a huge range.
Passive Infrared Motion Sensor
Passive infrared sensors, known for their durability, cost $30 to $100 per light. They are incredibly common lights for many reasons. Namely, because they are low-maintenance and long-lasting. They detect body heat. Each passive infrared detector contains a film that reacts to infrared radiation. Since people and other warm-blooded creatures like cats and dogs emit infrared radiation, these sensors detect intruders easily.
Passive Motion Sensor
Coming in at $30 to $100 per light, passive motion sensors function just like a regular light. You can turn them off in these units, so you can enjoy their glow without worrying about the sensor being activated. When you want the extra security, it can be turned back on.
Automatic Motion Sensor
With an average price of $30 to $100 per light, an automatic motion sensor light is the opposite of a passive model despite their similar cost. With these units, the light only comes on when the sensor is activated. You cannot turn it off and enjoy the light’s glow whenever you want. Automatic motion sensors are better suited for security purposes than decoration.
Ultrasonic Motion Sensor
On average, ultrasonic sensors cost from $40 to $100 each. They use sound waves to detect movement around them. They come in active and passive models. The active variants emit ultrasonic sound waves to detect movement nearby, while passive ones listen for sounds and activate when they hear them. However, the waves from these devices can be heard by animals like dogs and cats and may bother them.
Area Reflective Motion Sensor
With a price range of $40 to $100 each, area reflective motion sensors are pricier than some other options. An area reflective motion sensor works similarly to an infrared model. It uses LED light bulbs to emit infrared rays into the surrounding area to detect motion. If any movement is found, this device is triggered, and the light is activated. These models can large areas, making them highly effective for outdoor motion lights on large properties.
Dual-Technology Motion Sensor
Costing $50 to $300 each, dual-technology motion sensors offer many desirable features. If you want your light to be as accurate and reliable, you may want to opt for a dual-technology sensor. This model uses a mixture of infrared and microwave to be more accurate, reducing the risk of missed movement or false alerts. For the light to be turned on, both technologies must detect some movement. If you get many false alarms with single-sensor types, a dual model might be right for you.
Remote Motion Sensor
Homeowners interested in remote motion sensors can expect to pay anywhere from $50 up to $500 each. So how do they work? A light with this type of detector has a separate sensor from the rest of the unit. You can put it in an area of your yard or around your home and have the light in a separate location. When it detects movement, it wirelessly transmits information to the light, which turns on. This gives you more options for how and where to install the light, giving homeowners an extra layer of control over their lights.
Tomographic Motion Sensor
Have tomographic motion sensor lights piqued your interest? With a price range of $300 to $1,000 each, they are one of the more expensive detector options. A tomographic model uses tomographic technology. This works similarly to ultrasonic and microwave units in that radio waves are emitted from the sensor to detect changes and movement. Tomographic models are much stronger than ultrasonic and microwave sensors, covering larger areas, making them one of the best choices for security. While they are mainly used in warehouses and businesses needing serious security systems, they can also make an effective choice for residential properties.
Motion Sensor Lights Cost by Power Source
Motion sensor lights can be powered in many different ways. Some have to be hardwired, while others come with batteries that can be replaced or charged. There are eco-friendly, solar-powered lights that draw their energy from the sun. With such a variety, prices for each power source range from $15 to $300. The table below shows different power source types and average costs.
|Power Source||Average Cost per Light (Materials Only)|
|Hardwired||$15 - $200|
|Battery-Powered||$20 - $100|
|Solar-Powered||$25 - $300|
Hardwired Motion Sensor Outdoor Light
When installing hardwired lights, expect to pay $15 to $200 for the lights. Hardwired lights cannot run off batteries or solar power and have to be wired into a power supply, providing them with constant electricity. They can be found with wattage from 120 to 400. They have the advantage of never losing power, but they are lengthy and difficult to install. Consult your electrician about which is right for your home and the location you want to install it in. Every area may not be able to accommodate higher wattage lamps.
Battery-Powered Motion Sensor Lights Outdoor
For battery-powered motion sensor lights, expect to pay $20 to $100. Battery-powered fixtures, meanwhile, run off batteries that can be replaced over time or charged back up, depending on the model. Installation is much easier with this light because you do not need to worry about cords or cables. They are easier to install in areas that might be difficult for a hardwired light to access. However, the power eventually runs out, and the batteries need replacing or recharging.
Solar Motion Sensor Light
On the pricier side, solar motion sensor lights average $25 to $300 per light. Solar-powered lights are the most eco-friendly option. They are powered purely by the sun’s power, absorbing sunlight throughout the day to charge and use during the evenings and nights. This light is kinder to the planet and does not need much maintenance, with no need for electricians or battery replacement. They are a good option for decks, gardens, and stairwells due to their easy installation.
Labor Cost to Install Motion Sensor Lights
When determining the cost of your motion sensor light installation, one of the main factors taken into consideration is the project range. When there is already an existing electrical box, the cost for installing these types of lights is much lower than it is to install them in a new location.
While these lights can technically be installed yourself, it is highly recommended you hire a licensed electrician to install your outdoor motion sensor lights. An electrician will make sure that everything is installed safely and correctly, up to the manufacturer’s standards. In some cases, failing to use a licensed electrician results in a breach of warranty, meaning if something does not work properly, the warranty cannot be guaranteed. Most electricians charge by the hour, with an average hourly rate of $40 to $120. However, many have a flat fee for jobs like this, with $150 being the average charge for a direct replacement and $300 for a completely new installation. For an LED floodlight in a new location, the total cost for materials and labor is $400. The same light in a replacement area may cost $250.
Installing a motion light is similar to installing any other outdoor light. The lights themselves are hardwired to your electrical system. Suppose you are replacing an existing outdoor light. In that case, your electrician removes and replaces the light by unscrewing the old fixture, clipping the wires, making any necessary repairs, wiring the new fixture to the existing box, and screwing it into place. This takes from half an hour to an hour.
When installing the motion light in a new spot, the electrician needs to run a new line to the location, fish the wires, wire a new box, and finally install the new light. This scenario may take several hours, depending on the location of the new light.
Convert an Outdoor Light to a Motion Sensor
Many homes already have existing outdoor lights, and it is common for homeowners to consider upgrading to motion sensors. This is a good way to enhance security at your home, reduce light pollution, and save energy. There are various ways to upgrade your existing light.
You may choose to install a new motion sensor bulb with an infrared sensor for $30 on average. Or you can buy a motion sensor kit with a motion-detecting camera. This camera connects to your existing light and turns it on and off when motion is detected. These kits can be purchased for around $50 to $200.
Where to Install Motion Sensor Lights Outdoor?
The placement of the lights is a large determining factor in accuracy and function. This is driven by what you want the lights to do. For example, a security spotlight may be aimed at your driveway to turn on when cars enter. A landscaping light may turn on when people walk down a specific path to illuminate the way.
Ensure that the sensors face the direction you expect the movement. Some lights are also positionable, so you could have a light illuminate the way ahead for someone on a pathway or stairs. Keep these things in mind when purchasing the light because you may want to look at fixtures that aim the light separately from the sensor. Or, you may want to look at remote lights that have a sensor that trips a light that is farther away.
In addition, consider the range of the light to ensure that it does not shine into a neighbor’s window at night. The most common places for motion lights are in driveways, gardens, and around doors and entryways to homes.
Pros and Cons of Motion Sensor Lights
Like any technology, motion sensor lights have advantages and disadvantages impacting their use. The lights are convenient because they turn on when they sense movement instead of requiring manual operation. People with their hands full do not need to worry about stumbling in the dark. It also means that no one can approach your home without being illuminated, which may deter would-be thieves.
Because the light does not shine constantly, they provide energy savings. However, some lights are overly sensitive, so they may turn on when the wind blows. Likewise, if you live in an area with wildlife or have an outdoor dog or cat, they could trigger the light when walking past. This leads to higher costs and a bright light, which can be startling if seen indoors or by neighbors.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Since motion sensor lights are positioned outside, find a model that withstands rain. Typically, motion sensor lights should have an IP rating of 44 or higher. Any lower and they may be at risk of damage so that it would need protective housing. The vast majority of motion sensor lights on the market today are designed to be weather-resistant. Prices for waterproof motion sensor lights range from $35 to $500.
Pet-Immune Motion Detectors
One issue that some homeowners find when installing motion sensor lights is that their pets, such as cats and dogs, accidentally activate them. This leads to frustrating false alarms. However, manufacturers produce more precise motion sensor lights that are less likely to respond to pet movements. Some come with settings that you can program if you have pets. While prices range, depending on the model and pet-size sensitivity, prices for pet-immune motion detectors start at $40.
Floodlight arcs are an incredibly powerful outdoor light fixture, making them highly effective for lighting up larger areas, such as driveways, patios, and properties with acreage. They illuminate just as effectively as street lights, making them a great lighting option in the absence of or in addition to a commercial street light. The price for these powerful lights starts at around $70.
Outdoor Motion Sensor Light With Remote Control
Many smart motion lights come with a remote control. This gives the user an extra level of control over their lights, allowing them to adjust settings and brightness levels. The precise buttons and functions of each remote vary from model to model, but many come with the option to turn the lights on or off, dim the brightness, turn the sensors on or off, and set timers. These lights start at around $100.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Light malfunctioning. If your motion light remains on, it is usually a current issue. Turn off the current for 20 seconds to see if this corrects the problem before calling an electrician.
- Permits. You are unlikely to need a permit to install outdoor motion sensor lights. Some HOAs may object to them, so you may need permission to install them.
- Visual field reduction. Look for a light with a field of vision of a minimum of 180 degrees for at least 75 feet for the best results. Some sensors detect motion in a field up to 240 degrees, which may be too wide for some homes. If your light goes on too often, consider using electrical tape to block parts of the sensor to reduce the visual field.
- Home security system. Motion sensor lights can be installed as part of a new home security system. If you already have a security system, you can add motion sensor lights as an enhancement. Contact your security provider to find out more information and see if their system is compatible with motion sensor lights from other brands.
- Are motion sensor lights worth it?
The answer to this question depends on individual needs, but for many, motion sensor lights are worth the cost. While motion sensor lights do not work the same as a security alarm, they can have many benefits to homeowners, such as an added layer of protection from possible intruders. They can also light up walkways, reducing the likelihood of injury while walking in the dark. For many, motion sensor lights are a cost-effective security measure that offers peace of mind.
- Do motion sensor lights deter crime?
While sensor lights do not deter all crime, studies have shown that they may reduce opportunistic crimes, such as burglary and vandalism. This is because motion sensor lights provide an extra layer of protection, alerting homeowners to potential intruders on their property.
- How do you reset an outdoor motion sensor light?
To reset a motion sensor light, turn off the circuit breaker that powers it for at least 30 seconds and turn it back on. This should work on most hardwired models. For battery models, take out the batteries and then put them back in.
- Is it better to leave outdoor lights on or off at night?
This depends on personal preference. If you want the lights for security reasons, it is usually best to leave them on. However, if you do not normally leave them on and only do so while on vacation, this draws attention to the fact that you are not home, leading to a potential break-in.
- How much area should my motion detector lights cover?
This depends on the size and scope of your property and whether the lights are used for security purposes. Most models cover areas of around 50 to 100 feet, which should suffice in most cases for monitoring doors and entryways into your home. But those with bigger yards or properties may want to opt for a more powerful model.
- Can I add a motion sensor to an existing outdoor light?
Yes, it is possible to add motion sensor technology to an existing light. You can buy motion-sensing bulbs to fit in the light or get motion sensor kits to attach a sensor or camera to the existing light system.
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