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Ranking the Best Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights of 2020

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Outdoor motion sensor lights are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to significantly upgrade your home’s security. Deterrence and early warning are two of the most important factors when it comes to protecting your family from the predations of burglars and home invaders.

Quality security lights provide both of these and do it at a price that’s truly astounding.

We researched dozens of different security light products to find the best options for most situations preppers will face. Our list below contains the top ten outdoor motion sensor lights we think you should consider.

Rankings 

1. LITOM 120 LED Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Light (4th Generation)

LITOM 120 led solar outdoor light

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The LITOM 120 LED Upgrade Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Light is an improved version of their popular outdoor light. It packs in more LEDs of a more efficient design to provide brighter lighting with longer battery life. It offers multiple functional modes, including a constant dim light with increased brightness when motion is detected. 

Why we like it: Besides its impressively large angle of illumination and brightness, the updated LITOM motion sensor light has some of the best build quality available. It’s IP67 certified for enhanced water and dust resistance and is built specifically to handle the added heat of solar charging more effectively than other lights. You end up with a much more rugged and longer lasting floodlight.

Flaws: The average charge time listed requires full and direct sunlight. If the location you want to install it at only receives partial sun, or if you’re in a colder climate with fewer sun hours, it may be difficult to get the full usefulness out of this product.

2. URPOWER Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Security Light

URPOWER Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Security Light

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The URPOWER Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Security Light is a solar-powered LED security light. It works in three different modes, including a constant on one, and can run continuously on a single charge for eight to ten hours in the low light setting. It has a PIR sensor capable of detecting motion up to 26 feet out and recharges rapidly with full sun exposure.

Why we like it: The PIR motion sensor in the URPOWER has a detection range reaching out to 26 feet. That’s higher than a lot of motion sensor lights on the market and does a great job triggering the light around your entire home. When you add in the efficient solar panel it provides a nearly maintenance-free experience.

Flaws: Requires screws for attachment rather than double-stick tape or other adhesive. This isn’t a big deal for the most part, but depending on where you plan to put it up you may or may not be able to screw into it well.

3. LEPOWER 35W LED Motion Sensor Security Light

LEPOWER 35W LED Motion Sensor Security Light

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The LEPOWER 35W LED is a wired motion sensor security light designed for outdoor use. It uses high-efficiency LED lights to produce a very bright floodlight effect for far less power than more traditional bulbs. It has a powerful motion sensor that can be adjusted to multiple ranges to prevent false alarms.

Why we like it: The three LED heads are independently targetable and each provide as much or more light as other battery operated outdoor security lights. Together they give you a very bright 3,500 lumens directed in one to three directions. Even better, the more powerful wired motion sensor has a range of up to 72 feet.

Flaws: As a wired security light, you’re going to need to get an electrician out to run additional wiring from your breaker panel. That increases the cost and complexity of the installation process and makes it more difficult to get up and running quickly.

4.  LITOM Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Landscape Light

LITOM Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Landscape Light

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The LITOM Solar Landscape Lights are solar-powered outdoor lights with a motion sensor setting. It has 30 high-efficiency LED lights and can run in three different modes, including a constant on function and dim to high beam function when paired with the PIR motion sensor.

Why we like it: Because these are landscape lights you can place them in locations regular security lights won’t fit. It allows you to better target lights on different areas of your property away from walls or other convenient mounting points. A great way to use these is placing around a chicken coop to deter wildlife, on a trail outside your home, or on other approaches that aren’t against a wall.

Flaws: While these can be mounted on your wall, they aren’t ideal for that purpose. They’re smaller and provide a spotlight beam of light rather than a floodlight. They’ll definitely still work, but there are better options for pure wall mounted security lights.

5. Ring Motion Activated Floodlight Camera

Ring Motion Activated Floodlight Camera

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The Ring Floodlight Camera combines an excellent outdoor camera with an extremely bright motion-activated pair of floodlights. It includes many of the advanced features we’ve come to expect from Ring products including remote monitoring through your smartphone, the ability to pair with the Echo for issuing voice commands, and the capability to have the feed professionally monitored.

Why we like it: The Floodlight Camera offers excellent security light and security camera features. It provides targetable lights that provide substantial illumination and back it up with live recording. It’s more of a deterrent than a light by itself or a camera by itself.

Flaws: To use the best features of the Floodlight Camera you need to purchase a monthly Ring Protect Plan. Without it, you can still use it as a motion sensor camera and floodlight, but you lose a lot of the remote features and the offsite storage of recordings.

6. BAXIA Technology 100 LED Outdoor Motion Sensor Light

BAXIA Technology 100 LED Outdoor Motion Sensor Light

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The BAXIA Technology Outdoor Motion Sensor Light is a 100 LED solar-powered security light. It’s designed to install quickly and easily with just four screws or double-stick tape. It charges up rapidly in full sunlight and activates for 30 seconds each time motion is detected at night.

Why we like it: Packing 100 bright white LEDs, this light can provide 2,000 lumens of solar-powered light when called upon. That’s pretty impressive for a battery-operated light to begin with but gets even better when you consider its large 120 degrees light range.

Flaws: The PIR motion sensor isn’t the greatest. It has a detection range of only 10 to 16 feet, well under many other lights on our list. The light itself is very bright and offers good battery life, but it isn’t suited for locations where a large area of detection is needed.

7. Mr. Beams MB392 Wireless LED Spotlight

Mr. Beams MB392 Wireless LED Spotlight

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The Mr. Beams MB392 is a wireless LED spotlight with an included PIR motion detector. It runs off four D cell batteries and is designed to install quickly and easily with just a few screws. The spotlight design allows you to direct the light to monitor movement in more specific areas than many other lights allow.

Why we like it: The MB392 is one of the better battery operated spotlight style lights. It provides a bright patch of light with up to 400 square feet of coverage with up to a year’s use with an average of 8 to 10 activations. It’s much better for targeting specific areas of your property rather than flooding a whole side of your house with light.

Flaws: The lens cover for the PIR motion sensor is relatively fragile. If you accidentally knock it or hit it while installing the light or bang into the front of the light while it’s up you can easily break it. Not a huge issue, but definitely worth mentioning.

8. Heath Zenith Motion Activated Coach Light

Heath Zenith Motion Activated Coach Light

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The Heath Zenith Motion Activated Coach Light is a more classically styled version of the motion sensor security light. It resembles an old-fashioned coach light and uses a standard home light bulb rather than purpose made LED floodlights or spotlights. It fits in better with a traditionally styled home and is a great option for preppers living in more old-fashioned neighborhoods.

Why we like it: If you live in a neighborhood with restrictive covenants or an overactive HOA, this is one of your best bets for an outdoor security light that won’t raise a fuss. It has a large detection range of 150 degrees and can pick up motion out to 30 feet. All things considered, that’s pretty good.

Flaws: It ships without a bulb and doesn’t offer the same level of brightness as a flood or spotlight. If you can use a security-focused motion sensor light in place of this one you really should.

9. SANSI 36W LED Motion Sensor Outdoor Security Light

SANSI 36W LED Motion Sensor Outdoor Security Light

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The SANSI 36W LED Motion Sensor Light is a wired outdoor security light designed to provide substantial brightness over a large area. Its energy-efficient LEDs put out an astounding 3,500 lumens of bright white light when triggered, enough to fully illuminate a large area. Even better, the PIR motion sensor works at ranges of up to 50 feet and allows programming for constant-on modes or an automatic activation when the sun goes down.

Why we like it: SANSI is so confident in the quality and durability of their security light they back it up with a five-year warranty. It’s one of the brightest multi-head floodlights we reviewed and has a substantial 180-degree range for its PIR motion sensor. 

Flaws: The long-range of the motion sensor reduces its accuracy and sensitivity a bit. As you get towards the extreme end of its 50-foot range you start to get a lot more false alarms and missed movement. Not unexpected, but it does make it less useful for very large areas.

10. ZOOKKI 28 LED Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Light

ZOOKKI 28 LED Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Light

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The ZOOKKI 28 LED Outdoor Motion Sensor Light is a solar-powered security light at a value price. It’s designed to install rapidly on any flat surface with sun exposure and provide 400 lumens of bright white light when triggered. Its integral PIR motion sensor has a 120-degree angle of activation and provides an impressive 26 feet of range.

Why we like it: This is one of the most cost-effective options if you need several different motion sensor lights. You can pick up a four-pack of the ZOOKKI lights for the price of two or even one of many other lights. Despite this, they worked reliably and provide a lot of value.

Flaws: Given their low price, these lights are a little less polished than some other options. They get the job done, but they don’t provide quite the same level of durability that many more expensive options do.

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Who should buy outdoor motion sensor lights? 

Outdoor motion sensor lights are a valuable product for most homeowners and those renting houses. Below are several groups that can see significant value from them.

Preppers living off the grid – If you live fully off-grid, modern motion sensor lights are an excellent choice for home security. Many are designed to run off of internal batteries powered by small solar panels.

They use highly efficient bulbs and only activate when motion is detected. They allow you to have an early warning system around your home without having to dedicate additional power from your main solar or generator system to do it.

Preppers concerned with home security – Prevention is always the better choice than defense. If you can encourage burglars and home invaders to go for a softer target you’ve protected your family without having to go through the potentially messy legal issues that come with actively defending them.

Outdoor motion sensor lights are autonomous security sensors that activate whenever anyone moves past them. If someone is skulking around outside your home they’ll quickly find themselves spotlit by bright light.

Most criminals will take that as a sign that this is a prepared house and move on.

Preppers with kids, especially teens – If you’ve got teenage kids you no doubt recognize many of the signs when they’re planning to sneak out. They think they’re being sneaky, but it can be painfully obvious if you know what to look for.

Outdoor motion sensor lights add another hurdle to potential mischief by making it more difficult for them to get outside the house without alerting you. The lights will go off if they walk past them so by strategically placing some around their windows you’ll know right away if they’re trying to sneak out.

Preppers who live in rural areas – Preppers living in rural areas have the double threat of two and four-legged intruders to worry about. Opossums, skunks, raccoons, deer, and even bears or coyotes can be a real problem with accessing your trash, opening up feed storage, or harassing your livestock.

Motion-activated lights are a great and non-threatening way to encourage animals to move along, while also spotlighting potential burglars or home invaders. Smaller animals don’t like being exposed. Having a sudden bright light on them will often scare them away and prevent them from damaging your property (1).

How we ranked 

We considered six key factors when putting together our list. These were sensor effectiveness, power options, lighting type, ease of installation, durability and waterproofing, and additional features/modes.

Sensor effectiveness – The effectiveness of the motion sensor is one of the critical elements of a good outdoor motion sensor light. It needs to balance range and sensitivity in order to activate the light when needed, without turning on for every slight movement.

Ideally, we looked for lights with reasonably long ranges and the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor.

Power options – Until relatively recently any outdoor light had to be wired into your home. That complicated the installation process and increased your expense. Now though, there are plenty of lights that operate either purely through batteries, or through batteries backed up by a solar panel.

It’s hard to believe but modern LED lights can reliably be powered for up to a year in motion sensor mode on a set of AA batteries. We looked for lights with good and affordable power options, especially reasonably priced solar powered outdoor motion sensor lights.

Lighting type – LEDs have undeniably become the light source of choice for outdoor lights. They’re extremely long-lasting, energy-efficient, and provide an astounding amount of light.

The real choice to make is between a spotlight or a floodlight. Spotlights have a more targeted beam of light that covers up to about 45 degrees. Floodlights are much broader, with some powerful models providing fully 120 degrees of bright white light (2). 

Spotlights are much more targetable but don’t cover anywhere close to the same area. For security purposes, a floodlight is generally the way to go.

Ease of installation – Modern outdoor security lights are easier to install than ever before. Battery or solar-powered options require no wiring and can actually be attached to your home with heavy-duty adhesive tape. 

We considered how long it took to install different lights, where they were installable, and how easy it was to get the initial settings prepared.

Durability and waterproofing – As these are outdoor lights we definitely wanted to know how well they would stand up to wind, rain, snow, and other weather events. At the very least we looked for water and dust resistant housings, with more effective waterproofing preferred. 

Our top picks all provided an Ingress Protection (IP) rating. It showed exactly what level of dust and water resistance they offered (3).

Additional features/modes – There were a few other features we took into account while creating our list. Some lights offer additional settings and programming options that let you use them as a more general-purpose light alongside security uses.

You could program them to turn on automatically when it gets dark out or set them to run on a timer. Keep in mind though that features like these inevitably drain the battery faster or require a wired motion sensor light.

Brands we trust – There are more brands of motion sensor lights available than we can count, but just a few manage to stand out from the crowd. These were LITOM and URPOWER. They each offer very similar product lines, even down to comparable aesthetics and performance. They’re energy-efficient, easy to install and offer some of the best features available for motion sensor outdoor lights.

Things to avoid – As with a lot of other consumer products out there poorly made copies are always a problem. Many of the lights on our list look similar in design to one another, and you’ll no doubt be able to find lights in various online marketplaces that look almost the same for a much cheaper price than those above. A good rule of thumb with this type of purchase is ‘you get what you pay for’. Many of those cheaper lights are poorly made copies of more popular and higher quality lights.

We took each of these factors under consideration and weighted them in order of importance. Each of the motion sensor lights on our list above provides exceptional value and reliable service.

Benefits 

Outdoor motion security lights give you advance notice when something or someone is outside your home – The key feature that makes outdoor motion sensor lights valuable is the motion sensor itself. Instead of having your home lit up constantly at night, you get a warning when motion is detected and an instantly apparent area to check for intruders.

If someone is creeping around the outside of your home the motion sensor will detect them and flood the area with light. Best case scenario the potential troublemaker thinks you saw them and turned a light on to better identify them. Even if you aren’t around to see it, most criminals don’t want to deal with houses that are noticeably hardened against intrusion (4).

Outdoor motion security lights are cheaper, easier to install, and more effective than ever before – As with most security-related hardware, outdoor motion sensor lights have been revolutionized over the past decade. Until recently they were hardwired fixtures that had to be installed and calibrated by a professional. That added to your costs and was a major inconvenience.

Now though, battery- and solar-powered motion sensor lights require no wiring and in some cases no permanent installation. You can use heavy-duty outdoor adhesive tape to attach the light wherever you want it, reducing installation time to minutes rather than hours.

Outdoor motion security lights provide practical benefits outside home security- The most obvious benefit of a motion sensor light is home security, but it actually gives you a lot of value from a utility standpoint. 

If you frequently arrive home from work in the evening you don’t have to worry about walking into your home in the dark. Your strategically placed motion sensor lights will activate automatically to light your way. The same applies if you need to do tasks outdoors after dark.

As long as you’re moving around a bit your light will stay on and illuminate your tasks.

Outdoor motion security lights are a ‘fix it and forget it’ kind of security – Once you’ve installed your security lights you have almost zero maintenance left to do. Battery operated models are usually rated for up to a year of security use and solar models generally require even less upkeep.

They use LED bulbs rated for tens of thousands of hours of use, far more than they’ll ever see as a security light. Modern outdoor motion sensor lights are sturdier, cheaper, lighter, and more powerful than those in the past. Once you’ve purchased a quality set you’ll be able to get great service out of them for years to come (5).

FAQ 

Q: How do outdoor motion sensor lights work?

A: Motion sensor lights combine a motion-activated sensor, usually a PIR sensor, with photocells for light detection and a powerful flood or spotlight. The PIR sensor uses infrared light to detect the movement of a warm body across the area it’s pointed at while the photocell tells the light if it’s daytime or nighttime. If the PIR detects motion and the photocell reports that it’s nighttime, the lights are triggered (6).

Q: Are there battery operated outdoor motion sensor lights?

A: Yes. There are tons of different battery operated motion sensor lights out there. These function a lot like flashlights or lanterns and work a lot longer than you’d first expect. An even newer development is solar battery operated motion sensor lights. These combine new high-efficiency rechargeable batteries with solar panels.

Q: Are there outdoor motion sensor lights with cameras?

A: Yes. While not as common as pure security lights or security cameras, there are several manufacturers who offer motion-sensitive camera/security light combination devices. These offer the added benefit of recording whatever it is that sets off your lights and giving you a record of who or what was on your property.

Our top pick for best motion sensor security light and camera is the Ring Motion Activated Floodlight Camera

Q: What are the best solar-powered outdoor motion sensor lights?

A: Solar-powered outdoor motion sensor lights have really taken the industry by storm. They require even less upkeep than battery operated lights and have the same easy installation. Solar lights can run indefinitely so long as they have exposure to the sun on a regular basis.

Our top pick for a solar-powered outdoor motion sensor light, and our overall top pick, was the LITOM 120 LED Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Light (4th Generation).

Q: How do I adjust outdoor motion sensor lights?

A: There are several different ways you can adjust your outdoor motion sensor lights. The most basic adjustments involve moving the position of the beam of light or the angle at which the sensor views the ground. On some security lights, you can also adjust the perception range of the PIR motion sensor to target a specific zone on your property.

Q: Where should I place outdoor security lights?

A: When placing your security lights you should make sure that every approach to your house is covered. Your driveway and any access points on the sides are obvious, but you should also make sure your backyard and the areas around ground-level windows are also covered. 

Motion sensor lights work best when placed higher on your home. It gives them both a great line of sight for their PIR sensors and allows their light to spread out more effectively (7).

Q: What kind of bulbs are used in outdoor motion sensor lights?

A: High-efficiency LED bulbs are almost universally used across the outdoor security light industry. They provide extremely energy-efficient bright white light and have a significantly longer working life than any other option. Suffice it to say that you’ll likely sell your home before your LED bulbs reach the end of their working lifespan (8).

Q: How long do battery operated motion sensor lights last?

A: How often your lights are triggered and whether or not you use them as general utility lights will affect their lifespan. Most manufacturers claim about a year’s use with six to ten activations per night. That can be enhanced by using premium lithium batteries as well.

Solar lights are a different story. They charge up whenever the sun is shining, and so can last effectively indefinitely. Eventually, the battery will run through all its charge cycles, but you should be able to get several years of everyday use out of it by then.

Q: How bright should my outdoor motion sensor light be?

A: The required brightness of your security lights depends on the size of the area you want to be illuminated. Generally speaking, 300 lumens is the minimum you should consider. That’s enough to put a bright spotlight on a specific area and surprise any trespassers. Given the energy efficiency of modern LED bulbs, we recommend you go as bright as is reasonable for your budget and the type of light you need (9).

Q: Are motion sensor security lights effective against burglars?

A:  Yes, with a few qualifications. The bulk of burglaries occur during weekdays between 10 AM and 3 PM. Burglars can pretty reliably assume most houses are empty at this time. Obviously security lighting isn’t going to be much help during the day. For burglaries at night, they provide substantially more value. This is especially true for home invasion style robberies (10).

Q: How do I install outdoor security lights?

A: The type of security light you choose is going to affect how they’re installed. Wired security lights are generally more expensive both to purchase and to install. Unless you’ve already got outdoor mounts with wiring in place you’ll need to hire an electrician or certified installer to run new electrical wires. Battery operated lights are much easier to install. These can be screwed or even taped into place anywhere you like.

Q: Are outdoor security lights expensive to run? 

A: No. Modern outdoor motion sensor lights run almost exclusively with LED lights. These use on average 75% less energy than comparable halogen or incandescent bulbs and last as much as 25 times as long. How motion sensor lights operate lower costs even further. They only turn on at night, and only when they detect movement. Even then, they generally only turn on for 30 seconds to one minute at a time (11).

Q: Should I use a wired outdoor motion sensor light?

A: Wired security lights have been around for a very long time, but still provide a lot of value under certain situations. Let’s explore the elephant in the room first. Wired security lights are more difficult and more costly to install than battery-powered ones. They need to be wired into your home’s power grid, something that generally requires an electrician. So long as you’re okay with that though they can be a great choice as they usually offer greater brightness and more flexible options as a utility light.

Our number one pick for best wired outdoor motion sensor light was the LEPOWER 35W LED Motion Sensor Security Light.

Recap

Outdoor motion sensor lights are one of the cheapest, easiest to install, and most effective ways to protect your home from burglars and wildlife threats. They require very limited upkeep, can be installed and activated in minutes, and operate in a totally passive manner.

If you’re been considering upgrading your home’s exterior security, you should absolutely add some quality outdoor security lights with motion sensors to your plan.

For Survival At Home’s #1 outdoor motion sensor light recommendation, click here.

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