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Motion Sensor Outdoor Lighting

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 Sensor Outdoor Lighting

Plug in Motion Light

January 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

plug in motion sensor security light

This corded plug in motion sensor light is great when you don’t want the fuss of installing something permanent. If you have a work bench in the garage, or other occasionally used locations like shed lighting, attics, and basements where you have electricity but wiring is inconvenient, where solar powered motion lights won’t get enough light, and battery powered lights just don’t put out enough light, then this is likely your best option. To my knowledge this is the only light of its kind, although it would also be easy enough to rig something with a motion sensing outlet or motion sensing light socket adapter.

The cord (grounded) is a bit short at eight feet, so you may also need an extension cord for those hard to reach places. This is a 100 Watt halogen floodlight, so it’ll be plenty bright. The motion sensor detects within 110° , and according to the manufacturer, up to 60 feet away, but I wouldn’t count on that range. It has dials for sensitivity and duration, though I’m not convinced they have much effect.

Bottom line: What it lacks in features it makes up for in convenience. The Cooper Lighting MS100PG Plug-in Motion Floodlight has a metal and plastic housing and should hold up alright outdoors, so long as you don’t leave the extension cord in a puddle.

You can find this light for sale on amazon, with prime shipping.

Motion Sensor Outdoor Lighting

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 Sensor Outdoor Lighting

Unbreakable Light Bulb Fixtures

May 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


I’ve been working with a company that has a lot of vagrant issues. Each night, homeless people come shuffling away from the bars in the center of town, looking for a convenient place to bed down for the night. They leave trash everywhere, so in an effort to discourage them, the company left the lights on at night. The bums just unscrewed the lights and shattered them on the ground.

What do you do when you are worried about vandals breaking your lights? There are remarkably few products out there that are specifically designed for the task, but I’ve started compiling resources here to help you put together a simple system yourself. These tips are primarily tailored towards commercial outdoor lighting, but may have use on your home as well.

Outdoor motion lighting is great for keeping out vagrants, even in poorly patrolled areas, because it keeps turning on and waking them up, and also exposes their location. The trick is making it vandal resistant. With this DIY motion sensor kit, you can make any light motion sensitive. The advantage with this kit is you can use lights built for durablility, and you can put the wireless motion sensor in a place where it isn’t lit up by the lights, and where it targets the desired area.

Finding durable lights isn’t easy, but they are out there. I’ll post links below to the better lights I found. I started my search by looking for what they use as prison lights. Prison lighting has to stand up to the worst sort of abuse, but prison light fixtures are also really ugly and surprisingly hard to obtain.


There is a large selection of vandalproof lighting available out there. Henry  Ford once said that you could by his automobile in any color you want, as long as it’s black. These polycarbonate lights come in a wide variety of slightly different sizes and shapes, all of them ugly, none of them cheap. They redeem themselves in not having to be replaced, and by coming in a wide variety of light bulb styles. I don’t recommend fluorescent bulbs for motion lights. The ballasts just can’t take that many on/off cycles.


Whichever light you choose, or even on existing lights in vandal prone areas, it’s a good idea to use a Teflon coated shatterproof bulb. This kind of rough service bulb is a bit more resistant to breakage, and removes most of your cleanup if a bulb breaks, as the shards stay inside the coating. Some of these bulbs are also 130 volt (works in a normal socket) which prevents them from burning out with small voltage spikes (the most common cause of an incandescent burnout). Once these bulbs are fortified and tamper-proofed, you don’t want to have to get In there to replace them all the time. Alternately, you could use an LED bulb or fixture. They are a bit more durable by nature since there is no filament to break, but they are also dimmer.


My choice for the moment are these lights by Designer’s Edge. It’s important to get the bulb up high out of their reach to reduce their options for tampering with the light. Vagrants aren’t going to stand around throwing rocks at a fortified fixture for any length of time. It may be that even the appearance of durability will be a good deterrent. These lights have a metal shell surrounding a tempered glass enclosure. They look durable, but not ugly, and they come in both wall mount (pictured top) and ceiling mount varieties (left). The ceiling mount light has 1/2-inch IPS thread on the top and sides for convenient wiring and a good weather seal.

Motion Sensor Outdoor Lighting

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 Sensor Outdoor Lighting

Twin Security Lighting | Heath Zenith SL-5318

May 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


If you are looking for inexpensive outdoor motion lighting that puts function above form, this is your light. At 240 watts for around $25, it is plenty bright for outdoor lighting, and the motion sensor will keep the bills down. It has some good adjustments for sensitivity and brightness, and features pulse counting to reduce false triggering from wind, adjustable detection range, swiveling sensor and lights, 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 100′ range and 240° of sensitivity, making this double light ideal for corners. It isn’t built to handle a lot of abuse, but it it’s cheap, the manufacturer does provide a 10 year warranty, and it should hold up under normal outdoor use. The company provides good customer service. Many sites seem to be implying that 300 watt bulbs can be used in this light, but they are mistaken it has a 150 watt maximum per bulb. Click here for the very thorough owners manual (pdf). This lighting is available in black or white. If you want to just click and be done, you can get them through amazon, with free prime shipping if you have a prime account: Heath Zenith SL-5318 You can get bulbs for it here, or pretty much anywhere that sells light bulbs. If you don’t have an amazon prime account, it may be cheaper to get them through the Plumber Surplus links below. The price is a little higher, but they have free shipping and I’ll try to post any promotional codes I find below as well.

Heath Zenith SL-5318-BZ Dual Brite Motion Sensor Light Control with Full Metal Covers, Bronze

Heath Zenith SL-5318-WH Dual Brite Motion Sensor Light Control with Full Metal Covers, White

If you are willing to pay more for increased quality and construction, check out the Twin 300 Watt-Heath Zenith sl5512 Security Light

Motion Sensor Outdoor Lighting

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 Sensor Outdoor Lighting

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.

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