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In Lighting tips and advice

By Steven Roziers

LED floodlights with motion sensors: the ultimate guide

On 15, Feb 2017 | One Comment | In Lighting tips and advice | By Steven Roziers

On our blog, we sometimes fail to shed enough light on outdoor lighting. We aim to change that today. Below is a list of the best tips for LED floodlights with a motion sensor. You will learn all about the type of sensors, the positioning, connections and more.

The advantages of a motion detector

Outdoor lighting combined with a motion detector is definitely a good idea, for following reasons:

  • You save energy because the lights only come on when someone passes by.
  • It can be operated hands-free, which certainly comes in handy when you are carrying in your shopping.
  • Turning on the light based on movement can help deter burglars.

Steinel outdoor lighting

Fixtures with or without a built-in sensor

LED floodlights for outdoor use can be subdivided into two groups. On the one hand, there are fixtures with a built-in motion detector. On the other hand, there are the free-standing models, for which you need to install a separate motion sensor.

Built-in sensor

These lamps are fitted with an internal sensor. So it is not necessary to buy a separate motion detector.

The limited choice is a disadvantage with this type of outdoor lighting. You can add an external sensor to any fixture, but there are only a few models with a built-in motion sensor.

However, there are two important advantages to counterbalance this. Firstly, it is a little easier to install these lamps. Secondly, the designs are somewhat more stylish because the fixture and sensor go perfectly together.

External sensor

Naturally, you can always combine an LED floodlight (or another wall lamp) with a separate motion sensor. That is possible for any type of fixture, regardless of the light source. In this way, you have a lot more choice in terms of styles and models.

Moreover, it is possible to connect multiple lamps to one sensor. One, two or three outdoor lamps: no problem! All you have to do is ensure that the total consumption of all the lamps together does not exceed 1,000 watts.

The disadvantage in case of an external sensor is the extra step required for connecting the sensor. Finally, purchasing an LED floodlight with a separate sensor can be a bit more expensive than a fixture with an internal motion detector.

LED floodlight mounted on outer wall

Placement of the LED floodlight and sensor

The positioning of an LED floodlight and motion sensor is more important than you think. A poorly placed sensor will give rise to a lot of frustrations if the light comes on at the wrong moment or not at all.

That is why it is a good idea to carry out some tests in advance. Draw an angle of 220° on a piece of paper (this is the average opening angle of a sensor) and use this to estimate the detection radius. Take into account a detection distance of about 8 metres. Is this too little? If so, you will perhaps need to buy a stronger sensor.

Which sensor do you need?

When purchasing a motion sensor, you should consider the positioning. For example, there are models with a 360° detection radius, but also sensors that only pick up movements within an area of 120°. The opening angle has a role to play in this.

PS: Some motion sensors come with covering plates for adjusting the detection area.

You should also take into account the detection distance. Standard sensors can detect up to distances of 8 metres, but there are also variants which go up to 16 metres. Depending on the positioning, this is something to be taken into consideration.

The cabling and connection

First things first: provide for the cabling. A newly constructed house has the advantage in this regard. Here, you choose the position of the LED floodlight and sensor, so that you can conceal the cables easily.

Sometimes this requires a bit of planning. If you want to, for example, attach a lamp to an extension with a flat roof, then you should place the cable in the slope screed of the roof. This will neatly hide it away.

An existing home often does not provide this luxury. Here, you will possibly need to install an external cable against the outer wall.

The connection diagram

The cabling is fairly easy. For LED floodlights with either an internal or external sensor, you need a 3 wire cable (of 1.5 mm²).

In case of an LED floodlight with built-in motion detector, connect the three wires (phase, neutral and grounding) in the standard manner. In case of a separate motion sensor, you must first connect these wires to the sensor and lead them from here to the lamp(s). You can provide for another switch indoors, if you wish.

Tip: do not forget to turn off the electricity when you connect the lamp and sensor!

Light sensitivity and time

Have you finished connecting the LED floodlight and motion sensor? Then the next step is to set up the light sensitivity and burn time. This is usually done via a small turning button on the sensor, although there are also models with a remote control.

The light sensitivity determines when the lamp comes on (based on the amount of light). The burn time determines how long the lamp radiates light. 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, etc.: the choice is yours. It is best to test the settings over a few evenings and adjust them as required.

The direction of the LED floodlight

Virtually all LED floodlights can be vertically oriented. Many people make a mistake here. They direct the LED floodlight into the distance. This can create a blinding effect. For example, if you have an LED floodlight with motion sensor installed above the garage door, direct it downwards. In this way, you can ‘walk towards’ the light. That is more pleasant and safer.

Alternative: a timer

A timer is a good alternative to a motion detector. Especially since LED lighting consumes very little energy. Set the timer to turn on the light when you leave for work in the morning and come back home in the evening – useful during the dark winter days.

Too dark on your terrace or around your home?
View all adjustable surface-mounted wall lamps


  1. Great blog here! I love to gather information regarding LED Lights thus to enhance my knowledge.

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