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Recommendations on outdoor motion sensor lighting

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 29th, 2020 4:37 pm
Sep 25, 2017
91 posts
Edmonton, AB

Recommendations on outdoor motion sensor lighting

Hello Rfd’ers.

After a recent car theft, I’m updating a bit of security around the house.

I’m after some recommendations for outdoor motion sensor lights.

I’ve seen some of the mr beams lights on Amazon that have decent reviews but just wanted to see what others used here.

Also, I’m in Ab so lights that would handle the harsh temps here would be great.

3 planned locations for the lights will have rain cover, 1 will not (side of house facing fence line and gate).
5 replies
Sr. Member
User avatar
Feb 26, 2011
739 posts
Do you have existing lighting you could just swap?

If not:
-look into the cost of locating new power
-consider adding ethernet cables for security cameras since you're pulling wires anyways
-Wireless/solar charging ones will definitely not perform as well as you'd think, especially in AB temps.
Deal Addict
Aug 19, 2005
1727 posts
Not sure if it's what you're looking for, but we installed these solar-powered LED lights down our alley between two houses and they've been very reliable even in the snow. Solar-powered so no need to run power, and they're motion activated.

Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
15385 posts
Vancouver, BC
WIth solar units, it's more about how they are set-up and type of batteries rather than actual temperatures.

Solar lights only work well if the solar panel is exposed to enough light so that the power used overnight can be recharged by the day's available light. If the power used can't be recharge, the power levels in the lights batteries will drop in the next few days until the light no longer works. Realistically, three things to think about:

1. The type of battery. Lith-ion batteries typically have more capacity and perform better in cold weather than many of the mass marketed lights with NiCAD or NiMH batteries. So, look for ones with Lith-ion batteries! Some of these lights have easy to replace batteries so replacing the OE supplied batteries with better quality batteries will give longer run times and better performance in cold weather.
2. The placement of the solar panels. Most lights have solar panels built into the light so where the light goes is where the panel goes. While this arrangement makes it easier to place the light and have it weatherproof, the ideal location for the light may not be the ideal location for the solar panel so that it gets enough light to actually recharge the battery especially in darker Winter days. Panels should be exposed to direct sunlight for as long as possible in order to get the most charge. However, you might not need the most charge if you don't consume much power during the night...(see point 3 below). Otherwise, there are units where the solar panel is separate from the actual light and they are connected by a cable so that you can place the light where you need it and place the panel in the best location for direct sunlight. Also, placing a solar light out in the open in the Winter time might seem light a good idea for direct sunlight exposure but keep in mind that out in the open will mean that the solar panels may get covered with snow.
3. Most of the lights have various operational modes which consume different amounts of power. By picking the right mode for the situation, you can place a solar light in areas were there isn't direct sunlight and have it perform very well even in the Winter. For example, I have one set of lights that have 3 modes - bright motion control light only, softlight normally but bright motion control light, and medium light all of the time. The last two will consume the most power as the light is on all of the time while the first mode will really only consume lots of power if the motion control is tripped. I placed one light set to motion control only on the North side in the shade of my house since I only want it to trip when there is movement - I didn't need constant light - and I've had no issues with the battery lasting for the past 4 years in any conditions.
Jr. Member
Dec 26, 2017
187 posts
Sephora wrote: Not sure if it's what you're looking for, but we installed these solar-powered LED lights down our alley between two houses and they've been very reliable even in the snow. Solar-powered so no need to run power, and they're motion activated.

I have some similar to these as well. For over 3 years now they're been out in the elements in nothern Alberta subject to the high and low temperatures throughout the year. I live on a corner lot and the one pair in the front as well as the pair in the back come on every night with every passing vehicle and haven't failed yet; it's not a crazy busy street but probably a few dozen times from dusk to dawn. They also aren't in full sun exposure either so i'm pretty happy with them. Two of my sets are exposed to rain as well, no problems there. I would recommend something like them for you OP! No need to break the bank on something pretty simple!
Deal Addict
Nov 16, 2011
1276 posts
First and foremost, a motion sensor security light will not stop your car from being stolen if the thief is an experienced one. It will only discourage the true amateur.

Get a car alarm or cheap yet, use a club on the steering wheel.

2nd ...... the theft of a vehicle in your driveway is something that happens daily....... an inconvenience yes but not life altering in most circumstances.

But, I have both the solar and hydro powered ones for my home. I find that for the amount of time that the lights will actually be on. I should not have wasted my time with solar. The cost saving is minimal to nothing with solar. The only plus to solar is that you do not have to run power to the fixture. I do however run LED bulbs.

The lights coming on are super handy for when I am coming home in the dark. Lights up my driveway and provide light to access my home. I live rural.

I find them handy if I have to go outside at night as the lights come on and go off by themselves.

Many people feel the lights provide security around the home.

To a minimal extent.... yes. but, if you are in bed sleeping, are you going to be able to see that the lights are on ??
No, you won't, so you are relying on the lights to scare away an unsavory person. It may also help if you have a neighbor who is stays up late as they would be able to see the person and hopefully call you.
You could point one of the lights in your window which would certainly wake you up, but the night time critters walking around may set the lights off and disturb your sleep so not a good idea.
Many people have lights under their eves that stay on all night.

For me, I rely on having good doors and locks to slow down potential thieves and hope that the light will give them 2nd thought on being in the open and in the motion lights that I have.

If I am not home, lights are on indoors on timers, there is no shrubs around my windows or doors. Open areas around front of house. Neighbors know my vehicles.

Costco has a fairly inexpensive one you could try that is solar if you just want to try it out and see if the whole idea works for you.