Thursday, April 30, 2009

Subject: motion detector trouble

You just answered the following question:

Name: scott

Question: I had 3 motion detector lights on the same circuit outside of my home when I moved in and only one worked. I replaced one of the non working ones last weekend successfully and then replaced the other two this past weekend and now two aren't working properly. I wired everything EXACTLY the way the old ones were wired. What's happening is that two of them are coming on and off almost in sync with each other (one on, other on, one off, other off). They are on different sides of the house and should not have any way to trigger each other. They are staying on for about five seconds then off for about 10-15 seconds then back on and it's constant. The third one is working fine. The one I installed first that worked properly is one that is now not working properly. I got up on a ladder last night and unwired and rewired the two that aren't working right just to make sure everything was tight and proper and I moved the ground wires from the screw on the junction box (I think that's what the base is called) to the screw inside the actual metal case of the new units just in case that had something to do with it and then tested all of the lights (successfully) in daylight. I left them on and once it got dark I had the two on the rear of the house (one of the affected ones and the good one) staying on becuase it was windy so I shut them all off until tonight. Tonight I've turned them back on and I'm now having the same issue I had on the weekend even after going through rewiring and after having them test and work properly last night. The outside of my house is light a light show. I emailed customer support for the manufacturer Sunday night and of course I've gotten no response. Please let me know if this is something that you can advise me on I don't know who to ask and I don't want to pay someone hundreds of dollars to come fix it if it's something simple. Thanks.

Answer: Scott,

Stories like this make me wonder why people don't just hire electricians to start. I'm sorry to hear you are having so much trouble.I train my guy here in Philadelphia to make this type of job look easy. We just changed out three light like this in under 30 minutes in what I think was the Chestnut hill 19118 or Roxborough 19128 section of the city. It sounds like you have spent hours. Let me see if I can help.

I would remove all three motion lights. Test voltage tester to see that there was 120 volt at each location. Then I would reinstall the three motion lights. I'm not sure what kind you have but they should have a black wire and a white that go to your 120 volts. Then the same white wire and a red wire go to your light.

I would set them to the highest level in both light sensitivity and time on. Then I would never turn them of or on at the switch. Some light take a day or so before they start to work correctly. After a week I may go back and adjust the settings.


  1. You are giving great information here. I really like what you are doing.

    As a Licensed plumbing contractor, I understand that it is our responsibility to give sound advice to those who want tho attempt to make repairs themselves. If they cannot do it themselves, then hopefully they will call you to fix the problem. You are an asset to your community.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Greta tips, I will apply these this weekand as I am installing motion lights at my home