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Outdoor Motion Sensor Light Durability

Home Improvement Asked by gatorback on November 2, 2020

A motion sensor light is to be installed where it is exposed to the Florida outdoors. How can one gauge (is there a metric?) if the fixture is durable (last 5+ years).

As you have probably already guessed: I am weary of replacing fixtures every year. Any suggestions or lessons learned are always appreciated: thank you.

2 Answers

Separate the lights from the sensors

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You can buy stalk motion sensors a-la-carte for about $20 from reputable makers. You wire up your lighting as if it's going to be switch-controlled, except you run 3 live wires between the lamps and the motion sensor location (which can share a junction box with one of the lamps, or be located cleverly to get a better view of the geography). You can also put the motion sensor in a more serviceable location.

  • White = neutral (to all lamps and motion sensors)
  • Red = switched-hot (to all lamps and motion sensors)
  • Black = always-hot (to motion sensors only)

Now, when a motion sensor goes kaput, you swap only the motion sensor. There is no reason for valuable/expensive lamps to go into the landfill.

Also, a bespoke setup like this lends a much better aesthetic. It doesn't look like somebody bought a gimpy "2 lights and a stalk sensor" thing from CostCo and slapped on the wall... it's architected lighting designed to fit and flatter the building, with a motion sensor possibly concealed.

You can also expand into low voltage 12/24V LED lighting, which gives a great deal more design freedom. 12/24V motion sensors are definitely a thing, and are half the price of 120V sensors since they don't need internal power supplies or 120V relays.

Answered by Harper - Reinstate Monica on November 2, 2020

Yes if you buy no name china with no UL listing you will be changing the fixtures out regularly.

I would suggest LED and to assure long life you want a fixture that is DLC and UL certified UL underwriters laboratory, Design Light Consortium requires a 5 year warranty. I purchase a large number of fixtures and lamps Every year and find good prices and the above 2 certifications in many products they sell.

Check our LEDMYPlace.com and 1000bulbs.com I have no connection to either company other than having purchased at least 100 from each and the very few problems I have had are quickly taken care of.

But in any case the DLC certification in a lamp or fixture has provided long life in rough environments where non DLC from other parts of the world have had many failures in fact not many have lasted beyond their warranty.

Answered by Ed Beal on November 2, 2020

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