Of the three kinds of motion sensors available, your lights usually make use of only two of them; the third employs lasers and is used mostly in alarm systems. The sensors for your outdoor lights are often small radar generators, and those for your indoor lights usually work by detecting infrared radiation -- that is, body heat. Many manufacturers include a simple feature that allows you to disable the motion sensors and leave the lights on.

Disabling Outdoor Motion Sensors

If the manufacturer has included a disabling feature into your outdoor lights, the procedure for executing it is simple:

Step 1

Locate the "On-Time" switch in the fixture; it's usually located just under the motion sensor. Set this to any position except "Test."

Step 2

Locate the wall switch that powers the lights. If you don't know where it is, it may take some trial and error: Get a helper to walk in front of the light to trigger the sensor while you try various switches in the house.

Step 3

Flip the switch off, then switch it on immediately. You can now control the light with the switch -- it will remain on until you turn the switch off, and it will come on when you turn the switch on.

Step 4

Flip the switch off and then immediately back on to restore the functionality of the motion sensor.

No Override Function

You may not be able to disable the motion sensor by using the wall switch, or the unit may not be controlled by a switch. The alternative is to disconnect the sensor from the circuit. Sometimes the sensor is in a different location than the light, but usually it's is part of the light fixture. To disconnect it from the circuit. you need to first turn off the power, ensure the power is off with a noncontact circuit tester, then take down the fixture and open it up to reroute the wires. All in all, it may be easier to simply replace the fixture with one that doesn't have a motion sensor. If you do that, don't forget to install a switch.