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Motion Outdoor Lights

Reliable Security Light – RAB STL360Q2

February 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


Reliability just might be the most important feature to look for in security lighting. The best motion light I’ve come across is the STL360Q2 by RAB Security. It isn’t so much about sensitivity, or brightness, those are all typical features.

What the RAB lights bring to the table is glitch free operation in modern electrical systems. I’ve had lights where the sensor just quits. Some have features where you can flip the light switch off and on in order to change their mode,  but with all the fluctuations in household voltage, it is common for motion sensor lighting to turn itself off, or stay on full time after a minor flutter in the power. RAB gets around this in their outdoor motion lights by requiring a double flip of the switch to change modes, which goes a long way towards overcoming the problem.

There are plenty of lights out there that are meant to look cute and vintage, which is a nice marriage of convenience and beauty, but this one doesn’t hide what it is. It looks like it means business, which, most of the time, is all the deterrent you need to keep away unsavory types.

RAB lights come at a bit of a premium compared to their run-of-the-mill competitors, but really, compared to other home improvements or security systems, they are still quite a bargain.

Amazon sells this one in black or white here.

Motion Outdoor Lights

Outdoor Post Lighting Motion Sensor Kit

August 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

SL-4100-BK-A_Motion Sensing Post Light

Outdoor post lighting can be a beautiful and functional path lighting solution, but leaving them on all night creates a lot of light pollution that can irritate the neighbors and uses a lot of electricity. This Heath/Zenith post light motion sensor fits on standard 3″ light posts and converts them into motion lights. This lamp post light sensor is built of solid brass, and like most of their products, is built to last. The motion sensor is inset and unobtrusive.

I like the Heath/Zenith feature set. Most of their lights have these features, and they tend to be one of the best values in the industry. You can set the light to provide accent lighting during the evening. It will immediately brighten to full when it detects motion. the accent lighting turns on at dusk and stays on (if you want it to) 3 hours, 6 hours, or dusk till dawn. Once the light is triggered it can be set to stay on for 1, 5, or 10 minutes. The switches for controlling these settings are on the bottom of the unit.

Installation post light sensors is easy enough. Just add the unit as an extension between post and light. The lamp post light sensor has three wires to twist to the existing wires in the post and the light, and three clamp screws to tighten it down.

A few quirks that may confuse you in the settings: Dawn, power outage, or leaving the switch off for a  minute and turning it back on will return the light to AUTO mode if you have it set on manual. Switching between AUTO and Manual modes is done by turning off the light switch for one second and then turning it back on.

You can sometimes find this unit at Home Depot, of if you would like to save yourself the trip, you can have it delivered to your door by amazon:
Heath Zenith SL-4100-BK-A 150 Degree Motion Sensing Post Light Sensor, Black
or Plumber Surplus:
Heath Zenith SL-4100-BK Solid Brass Motion Activated Lantern, Black

Motion Outdoor Lights

Keeping Bugs Away From Your Lights

August 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

If you live in a place where there is a large population of June Bugs, moths, etc, they can be a real pain. Most outdoor lighting draws them in in noisy clouds. Motion lights are an improvement, but if the bugs are big enough, they can continuously trigger many of the less fancy models, but there are several things you can do to minimize this.

bug bulbThe first thing you can do is change the spectrum of your lights. Most insects see much farther into the ultra-violet spectrum than we do, but don’t see much in the spectrum from yellow on into infra-red. This means that the cooler the spectrum on your bulbs, the more bugs it will attract. They make bulbs specifically to solve this problem. I’d like to stress that whatever they may say on the packaging, these are not bug repellers. Putting one of these up won’t chase away mosquitoes, or keep the ants out of your kitchen. It is merely a spectrum that things like May Beetles, moths, etc. can’t see, and thus won’t chase. There are several styles of bulb available:

Personally, that yellow color would drive me nuts.

bug-zapperA second option is to just kill them. I highly discourage the use of poisons. Most bug poisons are indiscriminate killers. When you look at our current honey bee die-offs, and the history of things like DDT, the poisons really don’t seem worth it. Increasingly, they are finding traces of them within us as well. There are a huge number of bug zapper products out there (amazon alone sells around a hundred different models) that are especially effective against this sort of insect. There are even solar bug zappers now, although  they have a lousy track record on the mosquitoes they are advertised for. Bug zappers have their own set of issues: They use up electricity (except the solar ones) They are loud, and if you live in an area where the bugs are thick, you really aren’t likely to be able to keep up. If you are putting up a zapper, keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be right next to your favorite rocking chair; put it out back where it won’t be so noticeable.

A third option is to change where you are lighting from. Switch to spotlights, and put them away from where the bugs are a nuisance, but where it can shine on the areas you frequent.

My fourth and final suggestion is a bit more involved, but will solve the problem nicely. The key is to put up outdoor motion lighting, but to keep the sensor away from the lights themselves. There is a very nice motion sensor kit designed for doing just that. It allows you to put up the kind of lighting you like, and then just switch out the light switch for one that communicates wirelessly with a battery powered motion sensor. Put the sensor where it can cover the area you want covered, and now if the bugs are flying around the light, they won’t trigger it to stay on.

Remember, you don’t have to make the system perfect, you just have to have a better setup than the neighbors. The bugs will congregate there.

Motion Outdoor Lights

Cooper Lighting msl180w Motion Activated Solar Floodlight

July 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Cooper Lighting msl180w Motion Activated Solar Floodlight

Solar motion lighting is all the rage lately. With the convenience of being able to put a light anywhere without having to run wires or pay for electricity, and the low cost of these lights, the allure is obvious. Not all of these lights are created equal. This light by Cooper Lighting doesn’t stand up to the competition. Being priced near seventy dollars, you would expect it to be built to last, but the weatherproofing leaves much to be desired, as does the battery lifespan.

I’m a big fan of halogen for outdoor motion lighting. Halogens put out a lot of bright, dimmable  light, but that is when they are connected to the grid. Where power is scarce, LED is king. If I were buying a flashlight, I wouldn’t get a halogen, because I’d want the batteries to last a while and not take up a lot of space; solar motion lighting is the same issue.

Lets compare this Cooper msl180w light to a LED toting competitor. This solar Bunker Hill motion light uses 36 LED bulbs, runs on a small fraction of the power, requires a much smaller battery, has better weatherproofing, and is quite a bit cheaper. You also don’t have to worry about replacing a burnt out bulb. If you need a lot of light, run the wires. If you are willing to sacrifice some brightness for portability and efficiency, then stick with LED.

Motion Outdoor Lights

3 Light Motion Sensor | EML Technologies

May 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 



EML Technologies Thermal True-Range Electro-Optical 3 Light Motion Sensor series es1007

One of the things to keep in mind when you are making a product, is whether or not the things that go into it, from features to branding, are adding value for the customer. I think we can tell from the title of this one that it may be trying to dazzle us a bit. This is a light I found at Costco, and last time I checked, they still sell it. I have the two bulb variant of this light, and it seems to me that a third light would be a bit of a third wheel, but if you have a corner in your yard that you want fully covered and lit, this may be a good feature. The 360° coverage is fine, but assuming you are putting this on the side of a building, it is overkill. It would be nice on a corner. It has a blue LED that flashes whenever it detects motion, lighting up the whole motion detector plastic, even in daylight. This is handy if you want to check if it is functioning during the day, but otherwise seems a bit useless to me. Back to the original concept of adding value. You are paying for each of these features, are they worth it? I would have preferred to see something like an adjustment for accent lighting.

The metal construction is sturdy enough, but the last two very similar lights I got from this company, one of them still works great after years, and the other quit working in less than a year. There is a three year manufacturer’s warranty at least, so keep your receipt, and maybe the UPC label as well. If it were me, I’d more likely choose this one for inexpensive commercial lighting, or this one for home security lighting.

You can find this light at Costco, or if you would rather save yourself a trip, the EML 3 Light Motion Sensor is usually available here through amazon.

Motion Outdoor Lights

Make any Light Into a Motion light | Heath Zenith SL-6053 Wireless

April 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


Sometimes you already have the perfect lighting for your home and you just want to add motion sensing functionality. With this DIY motion detector Kit you can make any light motion sensitive. There are a few other such kits out there, but this one has some nice features.

It is designed so you replace your existing wall switch with the one provided (anyone moderately handy ought to be able to handle this). The motion sensor itself is battery powered (two AAA batteries which should last quite a while), and you can just attach it wherever it is you want to detect motion, as long as it is within a hundred feet of the outdoor lighting. Motion sensor doesn’t need any wiring.

There are some big advantages to being able to set up the motion sensor away from the light. For one, it allows you to hide the sensor where it won’t be visible to vandals at nitght when the light comes on. It is also a great way to keep June bugs, may beetles, moths, and other insects from circling the light and continuously triggering it.

The unit works with lights up to 300 watts, and has a dimmer switch with five levels of brightness (won’t work for fluorescent bulbs, but you shouldn’t put them in motion lighting anyway). The energy saving nature of outdoor motion lighting combined with the dimmer switch reduces the need for energy efficient outdoor light bulbs. It has a dusk mode option which can turn the lights on at a low level for a few hours after dusk. They will brighten to full if motion is detected. Due to all the features, this product isn’t really cheaper than a normal outdoor motion detector light, but wireless motion detectors give you the flexibility to use the lighting of your choice and place the motion sensor out of sight. It is sensitive to a 240° angle and does have a sensitivity adjustment. When you turn the main switch on, the light stays on. When you turn it off, it is in motion sensor mode. The individual product numbers on these two components are : SL-6017 for the switch, and SL-6032 for the motion sensor. Heath/Zenith Motion Sensor tends to have prompt customer service. This switch is intended for single pole switches, which means that it is the only switch that controls the light. If there are multiple switches for the light, you need the 3 way version of the switch (SL-6023) instead of the 6017. You can get the whole single pole switch and motion sensor kit on amazon. Or a bit cheaper through Plumber Surplus. They tend to have good promotions as well.
I’ll make an effort below to post and keep up to date any of their weekly promotional codes I come across:

Heath Zenith SL-6053-WH Motion light Set with Dual Brite, Transmitter and Receiver, White

Motion Outdoor Lights

Designers Edge Beveled Glass Wall Sconce

April 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


If you want the convenience of a motion light welcoming you home and keeping you from fumbling your keys, without the industrial intimidation factor of a dedicated security light, this patio light by Designer’s Edge is a pleasant choice. It is available in pewter (pictured), black, and a nice oiled bronze, as well as white or a particularly tacky polished brass.

This motion light is designed for use with a 100 watt incandescent bulb. This gives you some options on the brightness, tone, and type of bulb you wish to use. I wouldn’t recommend a compact fluorescent, as the on off cycles will likely cost you more in burned out bulbs than you will save in energy. There are some nice LED bulbs on the market now. They cost a bit more up front, but have extremely long life spans and use a very small amount of energy. Motion sensor outdoor lighting is already quite efficient, but this would be a very energy efficient porch light with such a bulb, but wouldn’t put out the kind of light you might want for things like doing tasks out in the yard at night.

For features, this light has a switch for motion sensing or dusk till dawn mode (or turn it on via light switch in either mode), a sensitivity dial, and a duration setting.  It detects motion to 220° arc with dual sensors.

You may see some confusion in reviews on other sites about the appearance of this lamp, so I’ll set it straight:  The long section on the base of this light is removable.

You can peruse the various models via amazon. It is eligible for prime shipping.

Motion Outdoor Lights

Heath Zenith SL-5511 150 Watt Security Floodlight

March 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 




If you are tired of dim security lights, then this is the light for you. With150 watts of halogen, this heavy duty security light will put out enough light to make sure you feel comfortable going out at night without all the bumbling and lurking shadows.

It has some good adjustments for sensitivity and brightness, and you will likely want to use them. This isn’t a good light to have pointed at your neighbors window and waking them up all night every time the cat walks through the yard. The wattage is such that you don’t want to pay for a lot of false triggers either, although motion lighting is much more economical than leaving them on full time. It features pulse counting to reduce false triggering from wind, adjustable detection range, swiveling sensor and light, and duration controls. There is a dim setting for outdoor accent lighting that will brighten upon detecting motion, making this an excellent choice for exterior commercial lighting. It has up to 50′ range and 100° of sensitivity. It is built to last with a heavy duty cast metal shell and the bulb is included.

Available via Amazon in white or bronze.

This security light also comes in a double setup ideal for corners, large spaces, or just to double light output to a whopping 300 Watts of light.

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