Motion lights mounted on your home or garage can increase security and discourage would-be burglars from approaching. While they're usually reliable and only turn on when they detect motion, motion lights sometimes get stuck on, and you need to troubleshoot the motion-sensor light to fix it. In most cases, resetting a motion-sensor light that's stuck on will do the trick.
Why Motion Lights Stay On
Your motion-sensor light is designed to click on automatically when it senses movement from a person, vehicle, animal, or other moving object. It should stay on for roughly 30 to 60 seconds after it no longer senses movement before shutting off automatically. This cycle repeats each time the light senses movement.
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If the light stays on nonstop, it could be the settings you've chosen. Check your owner's manual for specifics, but you can usually adjust the sensitivity and the duration of the light. If you have the sensitivity level set too high, almost anything can set it off, keeping it on almost constantly. Likewise, a longer duration time can keep it on for an extended period, sometimes 30 minutes or longer. Adjusting the settings can fix this issue.
Some lights also have an auto-on mode, which keeps the light on constantly. You might not even realize you switched it into this mode. With some models, all you have to do is shut the switch off and turn it back on immediately, with the light being triggered during that time. If this happens, resetting the light can usually fix it.
Resetting With the Switch
If your motion light somehow got stuck in the mode that keeps it on, review the manual to see how your light gets set to this mode. If it's the light-switch method, resetting it can be as simple as cutting the power for a brief period and turning it back on. Turn on the light switch if your light has one and then turn it off for a few seconds before turning it back on and testing the lights.
If this doesn't work, flip the light switch on and off quickly, making sure you do on and off each four times, stopping in the on position. Once the light turns on, flip the switch to the off position and wait five to seven seconds. Turn the switch back to the on position. This should reset the light to only turn on when it senses motion. However, this method doesn't work for every model, or there could be a different sequence of flips that reset it.
Some lights have a switch on the light itself for a dusk-to-dawn feature. With this mode, the light automatically turns on at dusk and shuts off at dawn. If your light uses this method, you'll need to move the switch so it only turns on when it senses motion.
Resetting With the Breaker
If your light doesn't have a light switch or that method doesn't work, head to the circuit breaker to reset the light. Flip the breaker that controls the motion-sensor light to the off position. Wait 30 to 60 seconds before turning the breaker back to the on position. Test the light to see if it works correctly.
If this doesn't work, try leaving the breaker off for a longer period. Some lights require more time to reset after cutting the power. If you still have your manual, it should tell you how to reset the light. If you don't, trial and error can help you figure out the timing.
Adjusting the Settings
If simply resetting the light doesn't make much difference, investigate the light settings. Look at the sensitivity and duration settings particularly. Reduce the sensitivity setting to see if this helps the light shut off more between triggers. Shorten the duration setting if it's set to a longer time and then test it to see if the light shuts off sooner after sensing movement.
Fixing or Replacing the Light
If these troubleshooting methods don't work, you might need to install a new motion sensor light to correct the issue. Sometimes, the light stays on due to old age, storm damage, power surges, or installation issues. In these cases, you'll either need a professional electrician to help or a new fixture to replace the old one.