How To Wire a Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights

As the sun goes down, everything gets quite dark in your area. Now that you have a family of your own, even the slightest movement and faintest sound outside intrigues you. 

And you have finally cracked and decided to install a motion sensor on your lights. Now that you are all set about wiring a motion sensor to multiple lights, you are probably thinking- how to install a motion sensor to different lights?

The above mention scenario may apply to you. But, if you have come across this article, you are probably thinking the same question.

Using a motion sensor will not only bring you security, but they are also energy-efficient and add a luminous atmosphere to your home and yard. Here we will guide you through the whole process so that you can wire it efficiently and safely.

How To Wire a Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights- Do It Yourself!

Estimated cost: $50–100

Time needed: 1 day 

You will need a full day to complete wiring the motion sensor to different lights. But now that you know the cost and time you will require, let us make sure you have everything you need to wire it.

Tools Needed:

  • A motion detector
  • A 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • A voltage tester
  • Some wire connectors
  • An electrical tape
  • Some wire strippers or Pliers
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw 
  • Safety glasses
  • Some extension cords

Materials Needed:

  • 14-2/ 14-3 cable
  • Junction boxes
  • A motion sensor

Steps on Wiring a Motion Sensor to Multiple Lights

Before diving into the work, you need to ask yourself one simple question.

Do you pay some expert to install it for you, or you want to wire a motion sensor to multiple lights by yourself?

If you are thinking of saving money and doing it yourself, you need to keep certain things in mind. Wiring a motion sensor to light is a tricky thing. Pairing it with multiple lights can make it even worse. 

It is dangerous for people that are not familiar with electrical work and lead to deadly consequences. But, if you are confident enough in your electrical skills, then you may proceed.

Step 1- Safety First

Wiring a motion sensor is a little bit complicated than most electrical projects. If you do not handle the wires cautiously, it may cause fire, might as well electrocute you, or even cause short out. 

To be careful and avoid an accident, apply for an electrical permit so that an inspector from your local inspections department can come and check your work.

Step 2- Installing Junction Box

First, you have to cut holes in your wall for junction boxes. 

Motion sensors and light fixtures need electrical boxes to be set into the wall. You can install new junction boxes or rewire boxes at the existing fixtures. 

You have to place your motion sensor where it can see intruders or visitors clearly when they come near your home. The motion detector will work best if you place it above 6-10 ft of ground level.

To install junction boxes, hold them against the wall and trace the parameter with a pencil. Do not place those boxes directly on the framing. 

Now, on a stucco or brick, drill a bunch of holes around it. With a chisel break the middle of the stucco. Lastly, cut the sheathing with the help of a jigsaw.

Step 3- Wiring

Now that you have installed junction boxes, you will need to determine how you will wire the system.

The easiest method is to draw power from a switch box and then running cables to the sensor and light fixtures. 

Or you can run them to the fixtures first and then run them to the sensor. In this method, cable and connection detail may vary a little.

You will need a switch to power off the sensor and light fixtures. You can use an existing one in a junction box or add a switch to your junction box. Keep in mind, junction boxes need to be a certain size to contain all that wire.

Step 4- Running Cables

At first, you have to create a path for the cables. For that, you have to drill 5-8-inch holes in the middle of the wall framing. 

After that, run them between your junction boxes. You can fasten them to the wall framing with some cable staples.

After choosing a wiring system, you have to run the cables between junction boxes. You can power the sensor and lights with existing cables. Remember to buy cables with the same amount of gauge as the existing cable.

While planning for the paths of the cables, do not go for the shortest route. And avoid paths that will make you drill holes in heavy framing members. The wires need to be high in the wall where they will be less dangerous.

If you have completed creating paths for the cables, run them from one box to another. Then fasten the cable to your wall framing with some plastic cable staples. 

Within 8 inches of each junction box place a staple and do not keep them more than 4 ft 6 inches apart.

Step 5- Wiring the Sensor and Fixtures

To make a connection, hang fixtures on an excess piece of wire.

After all the cables are in place, connect the sensor and fixtures. Take your time while doing this part. 

Do not rush through while connecting. If you mess up even one connection, the system will not work. And finding where you went wrong can be a lengthy process.

If you are working with existing wire, you have to cut off the rear ends and take off the insulation. This will expose fresh wires to your connection. 

When the connections are complete, turn on the power. To make sure that the system is working fine, set the sensor to “Test” mode. And then adjust the sensor.

Do not forget to turn off the main power before removing the cover of the box that you will use as a power source. With a voltage detector, check the wires inside to verify that the power is off.

FAQs

Do motion sensors work only during nighttime?

There is a misconception that motion sensors only work during nighttime. Because they only see motion sensors working at night. But motion sensors can work both during nighttime and morning. 

You do not see motion sensors during the day is because motion sensors are used to alert you about intruders. 

During day time, you will not need a motion sensor to warn you about intruders, you can do it yourself. That is the reason why most people program motion sensors to only work at night.

What causes a motion sensor to get triggered?

A motion sensor can detect the presence of someone or an object. 

Motion sensors have infrared waves which can detect temperatures. When a visitor or an intruder is near, a motion sensor can sense the change in the temperature of that particular area. 

At first, the motion sensor captures the person’s heat signature. It causes the camera to be activated, which triggers the alarm, and you get an alert.

Can motion detectors be added to an existing light?

Yes, you can add motion detectors to an existing light. For this, a remote-style motion detector will be a good choice. You can connect this type of detector to any fixture including the existing ones. 

Then subtly mount it off to the side. But running the wires to connect the sensor to the existing light fixtures is complicated and the hardest part of the whole process.

How long does a motion detector stays alert/triggered?

It can vary from one model to another. Some motion detectors can stay alert for 30-40 minutes, whereas others go on for about a minute and then shut off if they stop sensing any motions around them. 

But on average, a motion detector can stay triggered for up to 15-20 minutes. And the light should stay on for about 20-30 seconds after being alert.

You can program your motion detector to stay triggered for as long as you like.

Final Words

As crimes are increasing day by day, a motion detector is a great way to increase the security of you and your loved ones. You can install motion sensors in your home as well as outside of your home. 

They will not only alert you when someone is within the range of the sensor, but when there is no activity, they stay off. That improves your security while preventing lights from remaining on all night long and draining your electricity bill.

Wiring a motion sensor to light is tricky, and wiring it to multiple lights can be extremely hard. You do not have to be a pro at electrical work to wiring motion sensors. But you do need more than a little bit of knowledge to wire it. 

If you do not have any idea regarding electrical work, you might want to leave this job to the professionals. But if you are confident enough in your electrical skills, then you can do it in your home within a day. 

And this article will surely help you along the way so that you do not mess up the whole process and add security to your loving home.

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