Outdoor lighting is increasingly becoming a necessity in urban areas in these troubled times – and that’s no hackneyed phrase. Yet it is also a necessity in rural or remote regions simply because of their isolation. These lights combine exceptional energy savings with adjustability and fine control.
Motion-Activated Security Lights are much, much more energy-efficient than traditional lights in two ways. First, their lighting source are LEDs, and to produce the same level of illumination as any given incandescent or halogen bulb, LEDs consume much less electricity. Second, they are motion-activated and stay on for several seconds to ten minutes (and Always-On), as programmed, and this is another reason for much lower energy consumption. In fact, the net result is that modern outdoor security lights consume a small fraction of the electricity that always-on tungsten or halogen lights do.
Next, motion-sensing lights have an effect that always-on lights just don’t and cannot. Consider an intruder who has designs on your home. He will, obviously, avoid well-lit parts of your property and sneak along on the unlit or poorly-lit areas.
Now what if you don’t have motion-activated outdoor security lights? You have one smug intruder who fancies his chances. But what if you do? If you do,— Flash! From sneaking along in darkness, the intruder suddenly finds himself floodlit like he’s on Broadway! The startled intruder will not care to warble On the Street Where you Live and take a bow – he will panic and flee. That’s because of the unquantifiable ’Startle Factor’ that these lights bring to your backyard.
Uses and Features
Apart from alarming would-be intruders, motion-activated lights have other, more quotidian, uses. They can light up your driveway when you turn in your car. They can illuminate the frontyard when your children want to have a game of football late on a Saturday. And they can send nocturnal animals scurrying away from your backyard as they prefer to stick to dark and dim areas.
Many Outdoor Security Lights have adjustable heads that can be swivelled from side to side, angled vertically, or both. The lights are activated when the PIR sensor (Passive Infra-Red sensor) detects motion. On some models the detection distance is adjustable. The lighting component itself can be set to be triggered only at night or through 24 hours. Moreover, the period of time that the light, upon triggering, stays on is also settable. Outdoor Security Lights need to be evaluated on such adjustability and various other factors. Merely the specifications include various ratings and measurements. Consider:
- The brightness, measured in lumens.
- The power, measured in watts.
- The colour temperature, expressed in degrees Kelvin.
- The angle of illumination, denoted in degrees.
- The detection angle, denoted in degrees.
- The detection range, measured in metres.
- The IP Code (Ingress Protection Code)
Keep in mind that some manufacturers and sellers make tall claims about the ‘equivalent’ incandescent or halogen light in watts. Be wary of these ‘equivalent’ figures.
Next, features also need to be taken into account; for example:
- Day-night setting switch (motion is detected and lights are activated through 24 hours or only when it is dark).
- Lighting time-period settings.
- Detection distance adjustability.
Over and above these objective criteria there are some non-quantifiable factors. Build quality is a constant, but for these lights we must look into reliable detection and activation, minimal false-trigger activation, and the apparent glare or harshness of the lights. Finally, there is price and the value-for-money equation.
Last update on 2021-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API
Underneath we use these criteria and factors to evaluate five Outdoor Security Lights.
Disregard a minor fitting issue, and Novostella’s top-class set has nary a flaw; nearly a floodlamp with a top-notch motion sensor, it’s a best buy.
With a power rating of 60 watts, Novostella’s set emits 6000 lumens of cool white light at 6000° Kelvin. The lamp’s beam has an angle of 120° and the lighting element comrises of 84 Lumiled-made SMDs. The lamp head, made of lacquered metal, can be adjusted vertically but not sideways. It measures 28 x 24.5 centimetres.
It casts a very bright white light in a broad even beam. Far better than one might expect, it is like a little floodlamp!
The PIR sensor is spec’ed to detect motion at an angle of 120° and distance of up to 12 metres, and delivers on its specs. It is very sensitive and once in a while on the odd unit it will trigger falsely. The sensor head can be adjusted horizontally across 120° and vertically by 90°.
Novostella’s lights have three dials at the rear of the casing. The two-position ‘Lux’ dial-switch lets you choose between 24-hours and night only. ‘Sens’ is to adjust the motion-detection distance from 6 to 12 metres. And ’Time’ sets the duration that the lights stay on, ranging from 8 seconds to 12 minutes. All three controls work just about perfectly.
On one down note, the mounting holes are so large that screw-heads go right through them! The way round this problem is to use washers or flat mending plates, or drill new, smaller holes. Wall fittings are not included. The electric cord is 1.5 metres long.
The unit is solid and sturdy and is rated IP65. It is waterproof in practice.
Though a little costly, this kit is worth the price.
Novostella provides a money-back or exchange warranty.
In a field quite crowded with very good products a couple of other offerings edge Novostella’s kit on some or another criteria. However, Novostella’s kit has its own strengths with the biggest ones being the quality and power of its illumination and reliability of its controls; hence, it nicks our Best Pick slot.
- Broad, brilliant light beam is as good as it gets.
- The motion sensor is also as good as it gets, and reliably detects motion at up to 12 metres.
- Solid and sturdy unit of excellent build quality.
- The fitting holes are so large that screw-heads go right through them.
- No screws nor any other fittings are included.
Two sets of three bright lights, solar panel, excellent sensor, individual head angles, and always-on mode – YIQIBRO gives so much for so little.
Boasting a solar panel of 1.5 volts, YIQIBRO’s set emits cool ‘daylight’ light at 6500° Kelvin. The lighting elements comprise of 74 LEDs. This product includes two sets of three independently adjustable lamp heads each. In other words, this item is a two-pack.
YIQIBRO’s clever design gives you the option of focussing the three lamp heads’ beams in a small area or diffusing them up to an angle of 270° to illuminate a larger area. The heads, made of ABS and PC material, can be turned vertically as well as sideways. The central lamp measures 10 x 7.3 centimetres and the two subsidiary lamps 9 x 6 centimetres.
This kit casts a bright white light that is not unduly hard or harsh.
The solar panel and integrated battery are spec’ed to require 6 to 8 hours of sunlight for a full charge. However, they are amazingly efficient as the lamps do not want for juice even when the day has not had full sun or has been fairly cloudy.
The PIR sensor is rated to detect motion at an angle of 120° and distance of up to 8 metres. It is quite excellent and consistently picks up slight or stealthy movements yet does not trigger without cause. The sensor is integrated into the central lamp head and cannot be adjusted independently.
YIQIBRO has a white button at the rear of the casing. It has three modes, controlled by the number of times the button is pressed. The first is a test on/off mode, the second is a sensor-based mode in which the light stays dim when not activated, and the third is a genuinely very useful always-on mode. In the second mode, if the sensor is triggered the light will activate for 30 seconds.
Electric cord? What electric cord? Now there’s a bonus in getting solar-powered lights – nothing to wire.
A much-too-optimistic working temperature of -40° to 85° centigrade is claimed. This good quality unit is rated IP65.
A mouth-watering value for money, YIQIBRO is our Value Pick today and tomorrow, and also yesterday.
- Two sets of lights and a total of six individual lamp heads.
- Nothing to wire and the ‘electricity’ is free!
- The solar panel and the motion sensor – both first-rate.
- If you get a really dark dreary day you will not have sufficient battery power.
- Motion-activated light will not stay on for more than 30 seconds.
- Motion sensor is integrated with the central light and cannot be independently swivelled.
Now and then a unit has a flaw, otherwise MustWin’s set is a winner, boasting powerful light and high-quality sensor but at a very affordable price.
With a power rating of 30 watts, MustWin’s set emits 3000 lumens of cool white light at 6000° Kelvin. The lamp’s beam has an angle of 120° and the lighting element comprises of 42 SMDs. The lamp head, made of graphene material, can be adjusted vertically but not sideways. It measures 25 x 22 centimetres. The non-conductive graphene means that this lamp’s cord has no ground wire and none needs to be connected.
It casts a very powerful, bright light which is especially impressive considering this kit’s very reasonable price.
The PIR sensor is rated to detect motion at an angle of up to 180° and distance of up to 12 metres. It is a very good sensor that reliably triggers when it should with next to no false alarms. The sensor head can be adjusted horizontally across 120° and vertically by 90°.
MustWin’s lights have three dials at the rear of the casing. The two-position ‘Lux’ dial-switch lets you choose between 24-hours and night only. ‘Sens’ is to adjust the motion-detection distance from 0.5 to 12 metres. And ’Time’ sets the duration that the lights stay on, ranging from 10 seconds to 13 minutes. All three controls are easy to understand and set, and work just about perfectly.
A very few pieces have some or another defect, like staying on continuously or not lighting up.
Mounting accessories are not included but the electric cord is a generous 2 metres long.
This product has a working temperature of -20° to 40° centigrade. The lamp and casing are rated IP65 while the sensor is rated IP64.
MustWin provides a money-back or exchange warranty, and their customer service is top notch.
- In view of the price and specs, surprisingly strong, bright light.
- The motion sensor is excellent – triggers on slight motion but no false alarms.
- The very affordable price makes this kit a very good value for money.
- No mounting accessories – not even a screw.
- The occasional unit has some or another defect.
CLY’s motion sensor is sub-par and some units are not durable but the build quality is good, the light is even better, while the price is so low.
With a power rating of 20 watts, CLY’s set emits 2000 lumens of cool white light at 6500° Kelvin. The lamp’s beam has an angle of 120°. The lamp head, made of aluminium, can be adjusted vertically but not sideways. This compact light measures 16.6 x 14.6 centimetres.
This is a hard white light which may appear harsh to some. It is of more than adequate intensity and is perfect for small yards. For those who prefer a warmer light, CLY also makes a variant with the same wattage and lumens but a colour temperature of 3000° Kelvin.
The PIR sensor is rated to detect motion at a horizontal angle of 180° and vertical angle of 90°, and distance of up to 12 metres. Some units’ sensors are overly sensitive and get set off by . . . nothing.
CLY’s lights have two sliders at the rear of the casing. The two-position slider with infographics lets you choose between 24-hours and night only. The other slider sets the duration that the lights stay on, settable to 10 seconds, 45 seconds, 2 minutes, and 10 minutes. They are shielded by a rubber strip. The motion sensor’s detection distance is not adjustable.
Now and then the light flashes continuously; should this happen disconnect from the power source and reconnect after some time with the first slider set to night mode.
The build quality is impressive, and more so at the price. The lamp and casing are rated IP66 while the sensor is rated IP55.
Some units conk out after about one year but most operate perfectly well making this product a very attractive bargain buy.
The cord is way too short at only one metre; on the other hand screws and rawls are included. Installation is simple and straightforward
CLY provides a 90-day money-back guarantee and a 24-month repair/replacement guarantee, and their customer service is excellent.
- Very good build quality.
- Comes with screws and rawls.
- Very low priced and quite an excellent value for money.
- On some units the motion sensors are erratic and trigger falsely.
- The electric cord is only one metre.
- The odd unit breathes its last after about one year of service.
The motion sensor may be dodgy and the price is a bit high but Auraglow’s set has top-of-the-line non-glare neutral light, settable to always-on.
Cost: Price not available
With a power rating of 46 watts, Auraglow’s set emits 3400 lumens of neutral ‘day white’ light at 5000° Kelvin. It comprises of two independently adjustable lamp heads. Each lamp head, made of plastic, is adjustable vertically through 120° and horizontally through 90°. Each one measures 15.5 x 7.2 centimetres.
It casts a bright light of a very pleasant colour temperature. What is more, the ‘anti-dazzle technology’ meant to ‘not temporarily blind you’ really does work!
The PIR sensor is rated to detect motion at an angle of 120° and distance of up to 18 metres. However, the sensor is poor and it may or may not detect motion past 10 metres. The sensor head can be adjusted both horizontally and vertically by 90°.
Auraglow’s lights are controlled by three dials. The ‘Lux’ dial-switch lets you choose between 24-hours and night only. The second dial adjusts the motion-detection distance from 2 to 18 metres, though count on no more than 10 metres. The third dial sets the duration that the lights stay on, ranging from 5 seconds to 2 minutes.
And, lastly, you can set the light to a truly very useful always-on mode by turning the main switch on and off twice within two seconds.
No electric cord is supplied. The entry for the cord is not protected by a proper gland but has only a rubberised cover.
On the debit side we have to call out the build quality as the plastic casing is flimsy and rather thin in spots. The unit is rated IP54.
All said, this light is somewhat costlier than the others reviewed here and not as good a value.
Auraglow provides a 2-year warranty.
- A really pleasing colour temperature topped off with ‘anti-dazzle technology’.
- The two lamp heads and sensor head are independently adjustable both horizontally and vertically.
- The uncommon Always-On lighting mode is a standout useful feature.
- The motion sensor is poor and ‘near-sighted.’
- No electric cord.
- In the balance, this is a costly kit.
How To Wire A Security Light
Whenever you do any electrical work, wear electricians’ insulated gloves.
Before you start to wire your light, pull out the fuse-plug that will cut the electric circuit to the junction box with which you will wire your security light, then use a tester or multi-meter to check that the junction box is not still live. Better yet, just throw the main switch.
If the electric cord of your security light does not already have the inner wires exposed, strip it to do so. There will be three inner wires coloured brown or black, blue, and green or yellow. You will need to strip the outer covering to expose the copper, after which crimp or twist the copper wires.
If your outdoor security light has a ‘Mode’ dial or knob, set it to Night or Dark.
Open your junction box, and choose an unused branch circuit inside it. Connect the brown or black wire (its copper) to the live/active terminal, the blue wire to the neutral terminal, and the green or yellow wire to ground. Properly close the junction box.
Insert the removed fuse-plug or turn on the main switch.