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Install Motion Lights

An easy-to-install exterior motion light adds safety, security and convenience to any home.

Tools & Materials

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Install Motion Lights

When working with electricity always:

  • Turn OFF electricity at the main fuse box (or the circuit breaker box) that controls the power to the fixture or the room you’re working on.
  • Use a voltage meter to test the wires to ensure the power is OFF.
  • Place the wall switch in the OFF position.
  • All electrical connections must be in compliance with local codes. Check with local authorities to see if a permit is required.
  • If in doubt, consult a licensed electrician.
  • Do not use bulbs with wattage greater than specified for this fixture (if applicable).

Watch our DIY Basics Videos:

How Do I Strip a Wire?

How Do I Connect Two Wires?

What's In My Breaker Box?


Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and safety. Observe applicable building and electrical codes. Contact a licensed electrician if you have any doubts or questions about the connections, or if your home's wiring doesn't appear compatible with the changes you're making.

Step 1

Unscrew light bulbs

Remove the existing light bulbs from the old fixture.

Step 2

Remove old light fixture

Carefully remove the screws from the wall plate and remove the fixture.

Step 3

Before handling any wiring, use a voltage meter to double-check that the power is off.

Step 4

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, attach the base of the new light in the same location as the old light fixture.

Step 5

Attach mounting strip

Attach the mounting strap of the new motion sensor light. This allows you to attach the wires before mounting the fixture.

Step 6

Match wiring and attach with wire connectors and electrical tape

Pair the black supply wire with the black fixture wire, the white supply wire with the white fixture wire, and the bare (or ground) supply wire with the bare fixture wire. Connect the matching wires using wire connectors and electrical tape.

If the wiring colors don’t match—a common problem in older homes—you can use the voltage meter to identify the positive, negative and ground wires coming from your house.

Step 7

Make sure all wire connections are secure and carefully place wires into the junction box. Next use a screwdriver to attach the light to the mounting strip.

Step 8

Install new light

Install the new light and use a screwdriver to drive the screws into the wall plate.

Step 9

Apply caulk to outside of light

To prevent water from seeping into the junction box, apply silicone caulking completely around the perimeter of the wall plate where the back of the wall plate meets the mounting surface.

Step 10

Turn the power back on and test your light. If it fails to work, turn the power off again and test once more. Double-check your work for complete connections.

Step 11

Man adjusting motion light lamps

Adjust the angle of the lamps for the best coverage.

Some fixtures include sensitivity settings or timers. If this is the case with your motion sensor light, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set it up now.