The sensor is a device that detects the presence of movement and turns on the lights in your house when you enter. It does this by sensing sound, heat, or infrared waves emitted by humans or animals.
The light fixture’s power is cut off if movement is detected for 15 seconds and then switches back on again after 30 minutes of no activity has been detected.
Sensors are most commonly used to turn exterior porch lights on at night when it gets dark outside but can also be purchased to work with interior fixtures as well.
This guide will show you how to wire a sensor to multiple lights so that you only have one motion detector instead of separate ones plugged into each individual light socket!
How to Wire a Sensor to Multiple Lights – A Complete Guide
We are going to follow the steps below in order to wire a sensor to multiple lights.
Estimated cost: $50
The time needed: 20 minutes
Tools and Materials needed:
- A screwdriver
- An electrical socket with a switch
- Two extension cords or a multi-outlet extension cord
- Two light sockets and two light bulbs
- A motion detector or PIR sensor
- Wire or wire strippers
Steps On Wiring a Sensor To Multiple Lights
- Turn Off Power to The Light Fixture You are Working On
You can do this with a circuit breaker (find it in the fuse box) or by flipping off your circuit switch at the wall.
So that you don’t get shocked, make sure the wire that powers your light is completely detached from both the switch and the outlet.
- Make a Simple Electrical Diagram of How Your Wiring Looks Right Now
So that you can see more clearly what wires need to connect where later on, lay out all of your wires into neat lines based on which fixture they are attached to.
If you are working with two or more fixtures, it might help if you label each line for what room each cord belongs to.
That way, when it comes time to reconnect everything together, you will be able to change any of the names without having to draw a new diagram.
It’s also helpful if you include in this drawing an image of the motion sensor so that you know exactly where to attach it.
- Locate Your Sensor’s Wires
The motion detector will have at least three wires on it for power, light, and ground. Depending on the model you purchased, there may be a few more than that. Just make sure you don’t cut any wires that aren’t connected to each other yet!
- Turn Off the Power in the Damaged Area
If you can see exposed wiring from either the wall or the fixture itself (where the wiring is broken), then turn off that area, so you don’t touch any of those live wires while working on this project!
- Cut Open Both Ends From Both Cords
Cut open both ends from both cords with a pair of wire strippers or scissors that are safe for working with electricity.
You can tell which wires are the live ones by noticing if they emit any warmth from where they have been exposed to air, or you can simply touch them to see if there is a current running through them.
The wire inside one of my cords had all sorts of information printed on it telling me what each colored wire represented in terms of electrical voltage, but that may not always be the case for your cord!
- Strip Off Just Enough Insulation
Strip off just enough insulation so that both ends will fit snugly into the other cord’s casing.
The amount you need to remove depends on how large your wire strippers are and how thick the surrounding casing material is (the thickness of which you might not even be aware of until after you start trying to work with it).
You can always strip off more if you need to, but be sure not to take too much off, or your wires won’t fit anymore!
- Connect the Exposed Ends of Both Cords Together
At this stage, it may help to label each wire (using tape and a marker) so that when it comes time to connect them elsewhere, you know what goes where.
The live wires will most likely have a white coating on them, while the bare copper wire inside should be completely silver-colored.
- Take One of Those Wire Connectors That are Shaped Like “U”-Forks and Use That on one End of your Cord
When connecting two ends of the wire together during this stage, you want to get the other end of the connector as close to the casing as possible without actually connecting with it.
That will give you a “loop” of wire that is ready to be connected elsewhere.
- Cut Open the Casing of Your Sensor’s Cord
With your newly-created loop ready to be used, cut open the casing of your sensor’s cord about three inches away from its connection to the device.
Don’t take off any more than that: you still need a portion of the casing (with the wires in it) left on so that you can connect with it later!
- Expose Both Ends Inside
Maneuver and push the piece of wire with a connector at one end into this hole.
Make sure that before you do put one end in, if there was an internal layer between the two pieces of cord’s casings, then detach it first so that both ends are now exposed inside.
- Attach Each Side
After getting all of that setup, attach each side of where your connectors meet to the live wires on the inside of that casing.
The connector will only fit onto both ends if they are in the same orientation towards each other (you might need to turn a piece around to get it to fit).
Make sure you put enough pressure so that there is no exposed copper and connect them together tightly. You’re almost done!
- Next Step
Take off the end of your second cord’s casing, exposing the two sections of wire inside.
- Wrap Up the Exposed Wiring
Cover up any exposed wiring from either the wall or from the broken fixture itself with electrical tape before attaching one end to your sensor.
After this step, even if someone touches any exposed part that you did not cover, they will do so at their own risk since it will be impossible to touch the live wires.
- Attach the Motion Sensor with the Wire Connector
Attach the sensor with the wire connector you just created onto one of those two exposed ends.
Since I already labeled them in step 7, I had no trouble attaching this end along with the other cord’s exposed wiring (which is still covered by tape since it will eventually connect to the wall).
- Check The Device Initially
See if your device works now! If so, you can take off any electrical tape that was covering up your wiring and then proceed to add the second part of your sensor anywhere else it needs to go.
If it doesn’t work at first, there could be a problem with either the connections or whether or not you have all the parts properly turned on/off before testing.
- Things to Do If it’s not Working
Wiggle the wires a bit and fluff up the ends where you’ve made connections to make sure they are all snugly in place, and then test it again.
If it’s still not working, reread steps 8-14 by taking off part of the wall sensor’s casing first so that you can add another wire connector (this time with only one end) into place.
Be sure to label this wire as “neutral” if your motion cord is already labeled as “hot.”
But be warned: if you’re doing this because the device isn’t connecting correctly, then you may have gotten a faulty item, in which case is throwing it away, and getting a new one would be easier than trying to fix something like that.
Congratulations! You’ve now created a sensor that gets more than one device working with just one movement!
Now you’ll save money and can turn on a whole bunch of lights when you enter or leave a room, which is easier than getting up to turn them all off after leaving.
Can one sensor control multiple lights?
As long as you have a power source near each light, then yes, any number of lights can be controlled by one sensor.
But if you have a bunch of lights scattered around your home, make sure that the power source is close by and that the wires are fairly long (a few feet).
How do I keep my sensor lights on all the time?
You can hook up a toggle switch to the sensor. This way, you can have one sensor power multiple lights that you turn on and off with a flick of the switch.
To conclude, wiring a sensor to multiple lights is really not that hard at all and can be done in less than 10 minutes with a step-by-step process. It’s also cheaper than buying a bunch of separate sensors, each plugged into your own light fixture.
And, since it will save you money on your electricity bill while giving you the convenience of turning on a whole section of lights with just one movement, why wouldn’t you want to do this?