How To Wire A Motion Sensor To Multiple Lights (Do This!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

A motion sensor is not something that you should take lightly when you’re installing a lighting setup. It can help keep your lighting convenient, improve security, and also just make things look better at home. In typical setups, you will need to have one motion sensor for each light. But, what happens when you want to wire a motion sensor to a bunch of different lights?

To use one motion sensor for multiple lights, you will usually need to have some serious electrical engineering knowledge. A faster way to make sure that you get lights triggered through one sensor is to do the following:

  • Reroute the lights from their current power sources, and attach them to the same power source hub.
  • Use the motion sensor to trigger the power source hub.
  • When motion is sensed, you should be able to see multiple lights light up.

Trying to get a single sensor to trigger multiple lights can be difficult, especially when you’re talking about more than one light. Here’s what you need to be aware of if you want to make this happen.

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Is It Safe To Wire A Motion Sensor To Multiple Lights Yourself?

Before you get started and grab some tools, I’m going to stop you right there. This is not an easy task to do and can be dangerous for people that are new to electrical work to do. Due to the danger that it can hold, we do not suggest this project for people who have not gotten training in electrical work.

Remember: electrical wires can cause fires, electrocute you, or even short out if you do not know how to handle them correctly. Rather than risk the electrical bills, we want to emphasize again that it’s a bajillion times smarter to call a pro.

How Risky Is Wiring The Lights Yourself?

Honestly, it all depends on how much you know about wiring lights. If you take no precautions, then it’s possible that you will have electrocution or electrical fire occur as a result of a bad install. Even beginners who take precautions can have a fire sparked if they are unlucky.

The bigger risk with intermediates, though, is just having a circuit that won’t work. Each circuit and setup that you’re modding will be different, which means that you might end up pulling out your hair trying to make it work. While we make a lot of effort to give our directions, you will need to use your own judgment to make sure that you get your circuit to work well.

A Walkthrough Of Wiring Your Motion Sensor To Multiple Lights

It’s important to emphasize that the instructions (or actions) that follow below are a generic example of what you would need to do. Since each circuit is going to be different, you will need to use your own judgment to determine what you will need to do. With that said, we’re also going to be vague with the steps simply because you need to have enough knowledge to know what to do ahead of time. Here’s the basic gist:

  • Start off by turning the power source to the lights and sensor off. You do not want to work on a live circuit, ever. If you have multiple power sources, make sure they are turned off. On a similar note, turn all the electronics you’re working on off as well.
  • Determine the source of the lights’ power. Most lights will have multiple sources of power. You need to figure out where they are and mark them off.
  • Cut the lights off from their power source and run the wiring to a new power source. Establish a relay to ensure that the circuit that runs through all the lights has enough wiring to flow without a short. More specifically, the black wires need to join together.
  • Add a switch that’s controlled by the motion sensor. Splice together the black wires to ensure that you get connectivity to all the lights and give yourself extra leeway so that you have enough wiring to ensure that installing your lights will be easy. Add the switch to a power source of your choosing, and add resistors as necessary, if necessary.
  • Ensure that all the wiring is taped up, then try to turn on the power source. Give your setup a try before you install it. We suggest using an outdoor electrical outlet.

What Is An Easier Way To Make This Work?

Lately, there have been more techy ways to set things up. The easiest way to make sure that you get the lights linked up together is to buy a brand new kit that features one sensor and multiple lights. Many of them are wireless, can be controlled via a smartphone, and don’t require additional wiring to be worked in.

If you are open to getting a kit, then it’s often worth doing it. While it does cost a little extra, the money that you spend usually pays for itself when it comes to installation costs. Choosing a kit means that you don’t have to worry about hiring a professional in most cases. So, it’s up to you to determine if this is a good option.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Lights Wired Professionally?

Since you already have the lights and they’re installed, worrying about supplies is not a thing, per se. However, that doesn’t mean that you will have a totally cheap price tag. On average, you will need to pay around $75 to $130 for the labor of a professional electrician, assuming that you have a small number of lights you want to string up.

The number of lights that you have to wire together makes a big impact on how much you have to worry about labor. You should expect to pay between $50 to $70 per hour of labor from a professional electrician. You also might have a nominal fee for wiring replacements or a switch, if you haven’t bought them.

How Can You Tell If Routing Your Lights Is A DIY Project?

Routing your lights is not something we suggest doing if you’re a shadetree DIYer. However, you may be able to get good results if any of the following is true:

  • You’ve done a bunch of electrical work in the past. You’ve wrapped wire, added resistors, showed that you can rewire a circuit, and more? Well, you might be okay with doing this. Like, if you’ve replaced an electrical panel at your home, you probably are going to be able to figure out how many circuits you would need for some lightbulbs.
  • The wiring work is easy for you and pretty apparent. If it’s a single circuit through three different lights, or the lights came via a kit meant to be strung together, it’s probably safe.
  • You have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the kind of wiring you need to do. Sometimes, a little schooling can do a lot of work in terms of your safety and your ability to make things work. If you’ve had quite a bit of mentorship or watched a lot of videos involving electrical work on YouTube, it might be worth a try.
  • You’re stringing together less than five lights. Honestly, if you are stringing together more than five lights to an outlet, you might just want to get a professional. It’s tedious work.

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Related Questions

Can you add a motion sensor to any light?

Believe it or not, you can. Motion sensors are now incredibly easy to install as long as you have the right kit to do so. The best thing to do is to choose a remote motion sensor that can be hidden in a corner when you’re installing it. While you can always make sure that you find a sensor that works with your light, you still will need to do some wiring work in order to get it installed.

Do motion sensors work during the daytime?

Most people assume that motion sensors only work at night because they are most commonly seen doing their job at night. Contrary to popular belief, motion sensors can and do work during the day. The reason why you don’t see them working during the day is because most people program motion sensor lights to work exclusively at night.With that said, how effective motion sensors are during the daytime and during unusual circumstances is up to debate. If you need them to be used during the day, make sure you find a sensor that’s marked for daytime use.

How long do motion sensors stay triggered?

This changes from model to model, and the answer itself is up to debate. Some may remain triggered for as long as 40 minutes, while others will shut off the minute they stop sensing any motions near them. On average, you can expect your motion sensors to stay triggered for around 15 to 20 minutes.It’s worth noting that most motion sensor kits can be programmed to stay triggered for a set amount of time.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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