Having motion sensor lights outside your home is a beneficial security measure. However, some technical difficulties may arise, and you should be prepared on how to troubleshoot the issues. Some common problems with motion sensor lights include setting the right time, adjusting and aiming the sensor, cleaning the lights and replacing a bad photocell.

Motion Sensor Security Light
credit: Incomel/iStock/GettyImages
How to Repair Motion Sensor Lights

Light Staying on Too Long or Not Long Enough

Whether you wish your motion sensor lights would shut off sooner or if the lights are staying on too long, adjusting the correct time should solve the problem. On the front or back side of your light, you should see a timer and range button. Adjust the timer to your preference, but don't forget to adjust the range as well. If you live in a busy neighborhood or even have a couple of neighbors, it could pick up movement on their property and waste your electricity.

Properly Adjust and Aim the Sensor

If your motion sensor lights aren't turning on at the right time, they become useless to have. However, there's usually a quick solution. Choose which area you want the light to detect motion in. Next, hold the detector and tilt it slightly so you can aim it towards the area you chose. Now, set the distance of your light and choose low, medium or high to set the light's sensitivity.

Light is Not as Bright

If the light isn't as bright as it once used to be, it's time to clean it. Insects, dust, debris and mildew can also get sucked into the sensor, making the light not function properly. All you need is a cloth and cleaning solution. Clean the fixture, sensor and surfaces of the light bulbs, and the problem should be solved. If not, you may need to purchase new bulbs.

Test and Replace the Photocell

To determine if the photocell is the issue, disconnect it and the motion sensor from the terminals. Next, relocate the photocell to the controller. Hook the photocell directly to the controller terminals. Wrap the photocell with black electrical tape to trigger its response to darkness. Set your controller to come on within three to five minutes and set it to cut off after five minutes. If the lights come on, remove the tape from the photocell, and the lights should shut off. Repeat this process a few times. If the lights go off and on through this process, you'll know your photocell is working correctly.

If the light doesn't come on, it means the photocell is bad. While you have the light taken apart, replace the photocell with a new one. Reinstall and make sure all wires are connected to the controller. Repeat the steps of checking the function of the photocell to ensure the new one works. The last thing to do once the light is put back together is to test the motion sensor to ensure it's working correctly.