Bob Vila Radio: Troubleshooting Tips for Motion Sensor Lights

Motion sensor lights have an annoying track record of inconsistency. If yours no longer function as desired, they may not need to be replaced, but they do need to be reset. Follow these simple troubleshooting tips.

By Bob Vila | Updated Apr 30, 2018 6:58 PM

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Motion sensor lights are a must for any home security system, but sometimes they get out of whack, turning on and off inappropriately. That’s especially common after power outages.

Reset Motion Sensor Lights


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Listen to BOB VILA ON RESETTING MOTION SENSORS or read the text below:

Fortunately, resetting motion sensors isn’t a big deal. Once you’ve got your ladder safely positioned, use your hands to gently adjust the bulbs of the unit to where you want the light to shine. Same with the motion detector. Aim it towards the area where you want to detect motion.

Next, move the operation switch to the “test” position, then climb off the ladder and do a brief jig in front of the sensor. If the lights don’t illuminate, increase the sensitivity setting on the unit. That’s often just a matter of turning a small dial. If the lights come on more often then they should, try decreasing the sensitivity setting.

When you have the unit behaving as it should, move the operation switch from “test” back to the “normal” setting.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.