The 6 best outdoor motion-sensor lights

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by Vanessa Spilios
Originally Published: 
best outdoor motion sensor lights

Whether you’re looking for added security at home or easier navigation at night, motion-sensor lights can provide a boost of visibility whenever you need it. The best outdoor motion-sensor lights have a detection range of 20 to 75 feet, and come in a range of styles, from floodlights to design-savvy lanterns. Plus, you can choose the power source that works best for you, whether that’s hardwired, battery-operated, or solar.

What to consider when shopping for the best outdoor motion-sensor lights

Power source

As far as power goes, hardwired lighting generally needs to be professionally installed (which may result in a higher total cost), but it’s a great way to add permanent outdoor motion-sensor lighting to your home, and you’ll only have to worry about changing the bulb now and then. However, if you’re looking for a less permanent but still effective solution, wire-free options can usually be installed without professional help using basic hardware — you’ll just have to decide between a battery-operated fixture or energy-efficient solar-powered lighting (but keep in mind you’ll need direct access to sunlight if you choose solar).

Construction & adjustable settings

Depending on the size of your home and property, a single spotlight may be all you need, but if you have a larger area to illuminate, a multi-light design or floodlight will give you more coverage. Fixtures with tilting or adjustable parts allow you to direct the beam precisely where you want it to shine for more precise illumination, and adjustable settings may allow you to customize the motion detection range or even activate dusk-to-dawn modes.

Convenient upgrades

There are also upgrades to consider; if you’re concerned about aesthetics, you may want to opt for a lantern-style motion-sensor light that’ll add an elegant design touch, or if you want to integrate your motion-sensor lights into a broader security system, consider one with smart home capabilities. These systems offer the benefit of letting you control everything remotely or by using voice commands, and you can sync the lights with security features like cameras and locks

With all that, here are the best outdoor motion-sensor lights for bringing extra visibility, peace of mind, and upgraded security to your home.

Shop the best outdoor motion-sensor lights:

In a hurry? These are the best outdoor motion-sensor lights:

  1. The best wired motion-sensor lights: Amico LED Security Lights
  2. The best solar-powered motion-sensor lights: HMCITY Solar Motion-Sensor Security Lights
  3. The best warm-white motion-sensor lights: JJC LED Motion-Sensor Floodlights
  4. The best battery-powered motion-sensor light: Mr. Beams Motion-Activated Spotlight
  5. The best lantern-style motion-sensor lights: Lakumu Motion-Sensor Outdoor Wall Lanterns
  6. The best smart motion-sensor light: Ring Smart Motion-Sensor Floodlight

1. The best wired motion-sensor lights

  • Motion detection range: up to 75 feet
  • Power: hardwired

Floodlights do just that: they flood your desired area with a wide beam of light. This wired outdoor LED motion-sensor light provides a flood of light with the help of three independent heads that offer 4,000 lumens of brightness altogether. The dome sensor can detect motion up to 75 feet away, and manual switches on the back allow you to adjust the distance sensitivity. You can also set the light duration on a timer of one, three, or 10 minutes, or simply set it to the always-on or dusk-to-dawn mode. Available in black, white, and brown, the aluminum body is rated water-resistant and leakproof, giving it durability, and allowing it to withstand rain, snow, and sleet, and each of the heads are adjustable, so you can rotate or tilt them toward your preferred direction.

Helpful review: “I bought this to replace an older unit that housed 2-halogen floods. This is WAY brighter, not even close. The [...] motion detection works as it should. I like the fact that the two smaller light panels can be angled out, and down. The light coverage is truly impressive. Just like any of these types of units it is a quick three wire, and three screw installation. [...] Great product, and I will be purchasing another once the wiring to my shed is repaired. You can't go wrong.”

2. The best solar-powered motion-sensor lights

  • Motion detection range: about 20 feet, according to reviewers
  • Power: solar

Boasting a 4.4-star rating after more than 42,000 reviews, this pack of two solar-powered security lights is an energy-efficient option that only requires access to direct sunlight — no wiring or batteries required. Compared to other motion-sensor lights, they have a relatively limited detection range of about 20 feet, according to reviewers, but once engaged, the built-in reflectors offer up to 270 degrees illumination, including vertical space. The lights have a non-adjustable stay-on duration of 30 seconds, and the water-, heat-, and frost-resistant design allows them to function outdoors during all seasons. Speaking of which, these lights will still charge in overcast weather, but be sure to position them so that they get four to six hours of light exposure during the day (i.e., don’t place them too far under the eaves). And while the number of lumens isn’t listed, reviewers have reported they’re pleased with just how bright and responsive these LED lights are.

Helpful review: “The lights are very bright and illuminate a broad area very well. The batteries are powerful enough to provide a charge overnight when used with the motion detector.I bought these to provide lighting along a path for my wife, who leaves early each morning for work. The solar panels on the units get direct sunlight about 1/3 of the day, but this is enough to have them shining brightly in the morning, even after a cloudy day.”

3. The best warm-white motion-sensor lights

  • Motion detection range: up to 65 feet
  • Power: hardwired

If you’re sensitive to bright white light — but still want the security features of motion-sensor lighting — this wired option with a warm-white tone is a great choice. The 2,000-lumen fixture has two independent, angle-adjustable heads that together offer floodlight-style coverage. A control panel allows you to set the motion-activated lights to remain on for anywhere from five seconds to five minutes — or you can turn them manually on and off or set them on a dusk-to-dawn mode. For even more customization, you can also adjust the detection range or dim the brightness. The lights are housed in water-resistant die-cast aluminum in your choice of black, brown, or white. And if you like the specs of this option, but prefer a brighter daylight white, that’s available too.

Helpful review: “I couldn’t for the life of me find an LED light that didn’t blind me as it turned on. The daylight white color of other lights is a big turn off for me (pun intended). The warm white of this light is not the brightest, but I like that since I don’t want the whole street to know when I walk out my door. Overall I am happy with this light...”

4. The best battery-powered motion-sensor light

  • Motion detection range: 30 feet
  • Power: 3 D-cell batteries

The Mr. Beams outdoor wireless motion-sensor light is a highly rated, budget-friendly pick powered by three D-cell batteries, which will last for up to one year with an average of eight to 10 activations per day. The reflective sensor automatically disengages during daylight hours to preserve the battery, and, when engaged, provides 200 lumens of brightness, along with a reflective face that maximizes light coverage up to 600 square feet. The water-resistant, wireless design allows the Mr. Beams to be positioned anywhere on your home or property, even if exposed to the elements or out of reach of electricity. And while installation is a simple, wire-free affair, keep in mind that you’ll have to replace the batteries occasionally.

Helpful review: “I wanted motion lights to see on my back porch steps. I got the 2 pack & happy I did. These are great. My cats have set these off every night several times a night & the batteries are still good from the start, about two years ago, The other light lights up my drive way area where I pull my car into. The light is so strong I can see inside of my car with out turning on my interior lights. Love them. Perfect for those dark areas & easy to install. Highly recommend.”

5. The best decorative motion-sensor lights

  • Motion detection range: 40 feet
  • Power: hardwired

If you want your motion-sensor lights to have a more decorative look than traditional models, this set of two industrial farmhouse-style lanterns is a nice alternative. The integrated dusk to dawn lighting mode keeps the lanterns lit at 25% brightness when dusk falls, and turns them up to 100% brightness when motion is detected within 40 feet. At dawn, the lights’ sensors deactivate to conserve power. If you want full illumination on a temporary basis, the manual override setting keeps the lights on for eight hours, then automatically turns them off at dawn. The housing is weather- and rust-resistant, and the seeded glass offers a unique design upgrade. Due to the variable brightness options, only dimmable incandescent light bulbs (not included) should be used with these lanterns to prevent flickering.

Helpful review: “These lights are awesome! I ordered 2 for my front porch, liked them so much I ordered 2 more for the back of the house. Even the electrician commented about how nice they were. Lights stay low until motion is detected & then they become very bright. Very sensitive to motion. The bulbs are replaced from the bottom so no more climbing up a ladder to take the top off to change the bulb. Very nicely constructed. Lights up the yard quite far from the house.”

6. The best smart motion-sensor light

  • Motion detection range: up to 70 feet
  • Power: wired

Amazon’s Ring motion-sensor light kit includes a two-head light fixture that offers 2,000 lumens of brightness, a motion sensor, and a bridge that allows you to connect the lights to other Ring accessories like smart doorbells and cameras. The system is compatible with Alexa-enabled devices, allowing you to activate lighting remotely from your phone or by using voice commands. Notifications and settings like the light’s motion sensitivity can be adjusted via the Ring app, where you can also change the light’s schedule and adjust the stay-on duration anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes. The weather-resistant housing is available in black and white, and the two heads are angle-adjustable to provide 180 degrees of illumination.

Helpful review: “The light is very bright, which I like. Great app features, which include setting specific times you want the light to be on or off, as well as how long the light stays on when you have it set to come on when it detects motion (settings from 30 seconds to 5 minutes). Installation was a cinch (it replaced an old floodlight).”

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