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Outdoor Flood 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.

Outdoor Flood Lights

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.

Outdoor Flood 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

Outdoor Flood 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.

Outdoor Flood Lights

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.

Outdoor Flood 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.

Outdoor Flood Lights

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

Outdoor Flood 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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