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Outdoor Motion 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.

Outdoor Motion 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.

Outdoor Motion 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.

Outdoor Motion 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

Outdoor Motion 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.

Outdoor Motion Lighting

Twin Heath Zenith SL-5512-BZ-B 300-Watt Security Light

March 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 



If you are tired of dim security lights, then this is the light for you. With 300 watts of halogen, this heavy duty security light will put out enough light to turn any lurking vampires to ash.

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. It 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 70′ range and 240° of sensitivity, making this double light ideal for corners. It is built to last with a heavy duty cast metal shell and bulbs are included. Many sites seem to be implying that 300 Watt bulbs can be used in this light, but I believe they are mistaken. The product just advertises this number as a total.

Available via amazon in white or bronze.

A single version of this floodlight is also available.

Outdoor Motion Lighting

Sylvania Wireless Motion Sensor Anywhere LED Lights

March 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


These Wireless motion sensor lights by Sylvania are easy to stick anywhere. They have a strong magnet on the back, come with  a piece of sticky foam, and have screw holes for more permanent attachments (the mount has a nicely designed detachment if you want to remove the light). The lights are about the size of a racquetball, and have a small switch on the side with three settings: on, off, and auto (motion sensitive). They take three AAA batteries, and after being triggered many times every night by me and my pets, the batteries last about four months, six if you don’t mind it being dim.

The motion detector is quite sensitive and only triggers in the dark. The smooth light output is about that of a bright flashlight. They have rubber seals on the major seams, and I’ve had one outside for most of a year now getting hit by rain and hail, and it is no worse for wear. The way the motion sensor sticks out one side makes it easy to boost its sensitivity in a single direction, and the head swivels about 80°. I’ve found them useful as closet lights and cupboard lights, and I’ve stuck some to my forced air heating vents on my ceiling as motion activated night lights so that I can walk around at night without squinting, waking up the family, or tripping over the cat. Using the magnet means they are easy to just grab and take with me if need be. Looking inside them, the actual circuitry takes up very little space and seems like it would be easily converted to other use for robotics or other motion sensitive applications.

I’ve seen these at Costco, or you can save yourself the trip and have it conveniently delivered from amazon.

Outdoor Motion Lighting

Motion Sensor Security Camera and Floodlight by Stealth Cam

March 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 




This motion detector light with built in digital camera and card reader is at the top of its class because it is in a class by itself. To the look at it, it appears to just be a normal motion sensing light, but it has a hidden security camera (two megapixel) built in. The wiring is as simple as any motion detector. They accomplish this by incorporating a digital card slot for SD digital camera cards. Just pull the card out and put it in your computer to view the pictures. It records video in ten second increments as well! When the card fills up, it overwrites the oldest files, so no worry about having to empty it all the time. With a couple gigabytes of memory card, you can get a lot of data. It is full color. It time and date stamps every image. This gives you not just security, but evidence. The light is a 500 watt halogen, so this thing will really light up the yard.

There are some problems with this light. There is very little customer support. While the light will only be triggered at night, the camera takes pictures all day. This may be a good feature, but you have no option to disable it short of wiring it to a switch, which brings me to the next problem: when the light loses power, it loses track of time. There is an LCD screen for programming the device, but it is placed in an awkward location and upside down. The motion detector will detect things that are outside of the camera’s 52° viewing angle, which could be good considering there is a long shutter lag, but it will also give you some pictures with nothing in them. The camera does take two pictures each time it detects motion. The light can be swiveled up and down, but not side to side. There is no sensitivity switch, so end up with lots of pictures of your cat.

I hate to recommend a light that has so much room for improvement, but it really is in a class by itself for the moment. If you want this functionality at this price, this is your light. If you have a problem and the light snaps a shot of it, it has likely already payed for the additional price for the motion camera. Costco used to carry this camera, but I don’t believe they do any more. It is available through amazon.

Update: I recently had a trackback from a post on West Seattle Blog. Apparently, the author came home from work on a bright rainy afternoon to find that someone had squeezed through an eight by twelve window, stabbed their alarm system with a kitchen knife, and made off with their TV, wrapped in their favorite blanket. I know how hard it can be to come home to this. It is an awful feeling that doesn’t go away for a long time. After reading this, the feature set of this light really came together for me. The camera being hidden prevents it from ending up stabbed with a kitchen knife, and the photos being taken during the day is really nice when thieves don’t wait for dark. With this hidden camera light, the story above could have ended with them pulling the card out of their light and handing photos of the perpetrators to the authorities and having their favorite blanket returned, possibly still wrapping their television.

I’ve also found a near identical light under a different brand name with a slightly expanded feature set at Brickhouse Security: 
Catch ‘Em Motion-Activated Light, Camera & DVR (Black)

Or, alternatively, there is a very nice networkable security camera with night vision put out by Logitech, which is similarly easy to set up.

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