A great way to shed some light on a burglar is to make them visible using motion activated security lights.
These lights will turn on whenever they sense movement nearby, shining a bright light and often scaring away the person – or critter – that triggered it in the first place.
Installing Wireless Security lights is something anyone can do at home. All you need is a basic set of hand tools, about an hour of your time, and the drive to get it done.
Wireless security lights provide even more utility because they can be placed anywhere sunlight is available.
These units often use a solar panel and battery system to conv and rot the sun’s power during the day into useable electricity for the night time.
In this post I will discuss some ways to pick out a security light, find the best locations in your home, and learn how to install the lights and make sure they work.
- Wireless security lights are battery-powered security lights that don’t require any wires for installation.
- They use motion sensors to detect movement and turn on quickly when movement is detected.
- Wireless security lights are compact, allowing you to install them in inconspicuous locations, and often use LED bulbs for brightness and energy efficiency.
- When choosing a wireless security light, consider your home’s layout and the amount of sunlight the area gets.
- Traditional wired security lights are also effective for home security but may not be feasible in certain locations.
- To install a wireless security light, you will need a screwdriver, pen or marker, and drill/drill bit, with a cordless drill, step ladder, and level being optional but helpful tools.
What are wireless security lights?
Wireless security lights are pretty much what they sound like. They are security lights which don’t have any wires.
These lights are usually turned off, waiting for something to move in front of them.
Security lights use a motion sensor to detect movement within their range. The range of detection varies from light to light and can often be the selling point of a certain model.
When the security light detects motion, the light turns on quickly and shines bright light on whatever set it off.
This light helps alert the people at home and neighbors that something or someone is moving around outside.
It’s also intended to scare away a would be intruder as the bright light makes it hard to be sneaky and avoid detection while they break in.
Traditional security lights are installed using what’s known as “hardwiring”. This basically means that they are connected directly to a power wire that feeds electricity from your homes electric panel.
Traditional security lights have the benefit of always having power – as long as your home still has power that is.
The main drawback though, is that you have to either install these lights where there is already a power line or you have to run new power lines to the spot you choose for installation.
Wireless security lights use battery power to run at night, so they don’t require any power wires.
Unlike security cameras, these lights don’t transmit any data, so there’s no need for a data cable either.
What are the benefits of wireless security lights?
As I said before, wireless security lights have the main benefit of being wireless and battery powered.
This means that you are much more free when it comes to choosing the location for your security lights.
Being battery powered also has the added benefit of being very compact yet powerful.
Using LED varieties, or lights which have LED bulbs instead of traditional incandescent ones, is also a major benefit and something I recommend.
LED lights are a lot brighter than traditional bulbs while also using much less energy. This means a much smaller LED light can be many times brighter than an incandescent light and also last a lot longer on the same battery.
If that’s not a win win situation then I dont know what is!
The compact size also allows you to hide wireless security lights in inconspicuous places so they arent easy to see.
These days it’s also common to find security lights at really affordable prices, and if you get ones that run on solar power you don’t even have to foot the bill for electricity.
Thanks Mr. Sun!
How to choose a wireless security light
As usual, choosing the right home security equipment for your home depends a lot on your situation.
If you have a large home, you’re going to need either a few large security lights (ones that cover a lot of space with their light) or many smaller ones.
If you have a small home, you might only need a few small security lights, but you might not have a great location to install them.
Luckily, there are a couple things you can do to figure out a solid option for your house.
First things first: Do you get a good amount of sunlight in the area you’re thinking of?
If you don’t, or if you have a large number of trees shading around your house, you might want to think about using traditional wired security lights.
Because wireless lights use solar power to recharge their batteries, they really need direct sunlight for at least a couple hours a day.
Now the exact amount of time they need sun to charge up really depends on the model, and some are more power efficient than others, so they don’t need as much electricity to run at night.
If you’re not sure if you have enough sunlight to run a wireless security camera, you can always buy a cheap one to test it out.
The great thing about most wireless security cameras is that they’re pretty cheap.
This means you can pick one up, test it out, and if it works well, you can order a few more.
Otherwise, if it doesn’t work well for your situation, you can return it or – if you cant return it – you’re only out a few bucks.
Here are a couple of my choices for budget wireless security lights. You’ll find these on amazon.
I personally use these, and I can vouch for their value and effectiveness, but more on that another time.
Other types of security lights
Now, as I said before, the type of security light you need depends on your homes layout, the sunlight you get, and other factors.
My preferred type of security light, the kind I use around my house, are wireless ones.
They don’t necessarily have to be solar powered (although I really haven’t seen any lately which don’t have solar panels), but having wireless lights really gives me the flexibility in choosing a spot to mount them.
Wired security lights, or traditional security lights/ flood lights, also work really well for home security.
These kinds of lights are ones which are wired right into an electrical source so they don’t need batteries or solar panels.
Not needing solar panels is something that can end up being the deciding factor for which type to use, and in a couple places in my house, it was really my only choice.
In this spot on my house below, there’s an overhang which basically covers the entire length of the area I want to put a light in.
On top of that overhang is my roof, so I cant really mount a security light above it (well I probably could but that might look a bit weird having a security light sticking out of my roof).
This basically eliminates the option of using a solar powered wireless security lights in this spot, and means I really need to start shopping for a traditional one.
I’ll be writing a walkthrough on buying your own security lights, and when I do I’ll come back and post the link right here.
What tools do I need to install a security light?
Here’s short list of the tools you are definitely going to need to install a wireless security light:
There are also a couple tools which I would also recommend to make installs a ton easier, but they aren’t 100% required:
A cordless drill makes quick work of drilling pilot holes and putting in screws.
Cordless drills will allow you to do the drilling and screwing required much quicker, so having one is especially helpful if you’re going to put in multiple security lights.
If you don’t have a cordless drill and are looking for an entry level tool, check this Black and Decker out.
It’s a great price and will handle a large number of jobs around the house.
If you have a beginners drill but are looking for an upgrade, I personally use a Milwaukee M12 for all my handyman jobs, but here is the latest and greatest M18 version.
Ladders are really a you either need one or you don’t kind of tool.
Depending on the location you’ve chosen to install your security light, you may be tall enough to reach that spot and comfortably perform the install.
I do recommend, however, that you choose a spot that isn’t too easy to reach, because if it’s easy for you to reach, it’s probably just as easy for an intruder to reach and quickly rip down.
That is, unless you’re an NBA player, then you can probably disregard the height concern (and probably just pay someone to install your security lights for you lol).
The last tool I suggest having, but which you don’t absolutely need is a level.
A small and speedy option – torpedo levels are cheap and exactly what you need for the job. Check my recommendation here.
Sometimes when you’re mounting something on a wall, whether it’s a security light or a painting or photograph, you can get tricked by your eyes into thinking something is nice and level.
You assume you’re finished, pack up your tools, and step back to admire your work only to realize the security light you just installed is ever so slightly crooked…
That might be fine for some, but to others that slight angle is enough to drive them crazy.
For that reason alone, I always use a level to get things as straight as I possibly can.
Picking the best spot for my security light
Before you go about doing the actual installation, you have an equally important task: choosing where you want to install your security light
The location of your light might not seem like it’s very important, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
You need to identify the perfect spot to balance ease of installation, distance from your target area, and the amount of light in that area (both sunlight if its solar powered and the light it will project).
As I discussed earlier, solar powered lights are my favorite kind of security light, but the one drawback is that they require sunlight during the day to recharge themselves.
Without that direct sunlight during the day, the batteries cant be charged up by the panels and the lights wont have the juice they need to turn on at night.
To figure out if you get enough sunlight, I suggest you can do a sort of trial run.
Get out some tape (something strong enough to hold the security light) and tape the light in the spot you want to try out.
I like to use duct tape for this method, but sometimes it can leave residue when you take it off so be careful and use the right tape that wont damage your paint or siding.
Before you tape it in place, make sure you setup the light so its ready to operate.
Often times there is a little button that needs to be pressed or a switch to turn the light on, sometimes on the back side.
You probably wont notice it’s on because the light only works in the dark, but some lights will work in any amount of light as long as the battery is charged up.
Follow your specific instructions that came with your security light or reference your manufacturer’s website to make sure you have the light ready to go.
Once you have your security light turned on and taped in place, you just need to wait till it’s dark out.
Sometimes finding a good spot for your wireless security light can be challenging…even more than you might think at first.
If at first you don’t succeed…well then you might the help of an infographic!
I decided to make a quick little guide below, so check it out and share it if you think its helpful.
Installing my wireless security lights
Once you have a location all picked out, and you’ve done your dry run to make sure it’s an ideal spot, it’s time to do the actual install.
If you need a quick refresher on the tools you need for this install, scroll back up the page!
Here are the step by step instructions for installing wireless security lights:
Step 1) Place the Security light in position
First begin by putting tape on the back side of your security light.
Make sure its sticky on both sides, I like to use double sided tape but you can use regular tape that you roll over your finger to get the same effect.
You want it to be sticky on both sides so that it sticks the security light to your mounting point and holds it there for step 2.
If you’re happy with the angle of your light, stick in in place with a little pressure.
Avoid too much pressure as you don’t want to damage the light.
If you want to take that extra step to make the light install look nice and professional, go to step 2, otherwise you can skip to step 3.
Step 2) (Optional) Make sure your security light is level
Like I said before, this isn’t 100% necessary but it definitely makes the install look cleaner and more professional in my opinion.
Using your level, place it on top of the light and make sure the bubble is right in the center of the two middle bars.
If you don’t have a level you can usually find one in app form for your smartphone. Just search for level or bubble level on your app store.
Once the security light is nice and level, you can press down firmly to make sure it sticks in place.
Step 3) Mark your holes for drilling locations
Use the marker or pen you have to mark the locations for where you want to drill.
Dont worry about having pen marks on the side of your house, they’ll be drilled out and covered up by the security light when were done.
Each model of security light is going to be a little different, but you should be able to notice small mounting holes around the edges.
If you cant figure out where the holes are, your user manual is where I suggest you look.
Step 4) Drill your pilot holes
This step is pretty straight forward.
Remove your security light by peeling it off the mounting surface and revealing the Marks you just made.
If you have an electric drill, load your drill bit and click over the chuck until it grips nice and tight.
We dont want any pieces or parts flying through the air for this project!
If you don’t have a drill, you have a couple options.
You can still use a drill bit and turn it by hand.
This will take a while, and require some elbow grease, but if you’re on a strict budget it’s definitely doable.
You could also try using a small nail to make a pilot hole.
Using a hammer you can pound the nail in place, but not all the way in. You then pull the nail back out of the hole, creating a good pilot for your mounting screws to go into.
Step 5) Attach your Security Light
So now were finally at the biggest step, actually “installing” your light.
Using the pilot holes you just made, line the light up.
There should be one pilot hole right in the middle of each of the mounting holes on your security light’s housing.
Using the screws provided, screw in one at a time, adjusting and rotating the security light as you go to make sure it is centered properly.
If no screws were included in your kit, I’ll put a small section at the bottom of this article on how to choose the right length screws. You can jump to that section by clicking here.
Once you have all of the screws put in, its time for the final step…testing that puppy out!
***On a short side note, totally related…
Some security lights come with a little tool that looks like this:
You have to insert this into the light to “activate” it.
If you dont, the light wont turn on at night and you might start worrying that the unit is broken.
If your light seems like it’s not working or it’s just not turning on at night, this is the first thing I suggest you check!***
Step 6) Test out your new security light
Congratulations! You did it! If you’re reading this that means you have gone through 99% of the hard work required to install your new wireless security light (well…maybe closer to 84%, technically, but whose counting?).
Now you have to wait…staging a stake-out of sorts.
The best time of day to test out a security light of any kind is when the day is done. Night time.
I like to wait until it’s really dark, pretty much as dark as it’s going to get.
The exact time this will be depends on where you live and the time of year, but you can test it out whenever you think it’s dark enough.
Just know that the light sensor in your security light will keep the light from turning on if it isnt dark enough, even if you jump up and down right in front of it.
Speaking of jumping up and down, once it’s dark that is exactly what I like to do for my test!
Usually on most models it only takes a second for your light to turn on, and just walking in front of it will probably do the trick.
You can get an idea for how sensitive your light is by walking a toward it from different angles and distances too.
Some motion detectors are more sensitive than others, and some models even have adjustable sensors so you can dial it in to make sure that “burglar” causing a commotion outside isnt just a squirrel or the neighborhood cat.
Once you feel confident that your light is working as it should, all that’s left to do is cleanup your tools and any trash from the install and call it a night. Great job!
What if my Wireless Security Light doesn’t turn on?
Like any project, whether its building a computer or installing a new part on your car, the final moment where you test everything out can be a little stressful.
You cross your fingers and hope that everything you did was correct, no mistakes were made, and that everything is going to work as it should when you flip that switch, turn the key, or do a little dance for your motion detector.
Sometimes everything works flawlessly, but other times…well…they just dont.
There can be many reasons why your security light doesnt work, and there are a few things you can troubleshoot to identify the root cause of your issue.
I’ll cover all of that and more in my security light troubleshooting guide, right here!
Bonus Section: How to Choose the Right Screw for my Security Light Install
Imagine this: You’ve got it all planned out, the tools you need, the security lights just got delivered by Amazon, its go time.
You get halfway through the install, ready to secure your light when you realize “crap, there arent any screws included in this kit”.
Unfortunately this happens every now and then, especially with the lower priced models (which I particularly like because of their overall bang for your buck).
Sometimes too, the kit might come with some screws or other fasteners, but they just wont work for the application because they’re too short, too long, or just arent strong enough to go into the material you need them in.
Below is a quick attempt at explaining first: what kind of screw do you need, and second: what size screw do you need for your security light install?
What type of Screw to use to iinstall security light?
So luckily, this is a pretty easy question to answer. The type of screw you need for your install depends entirely on the material you want to mount your light to.
If you want to mount your Security light to a wood surface, you will want a screw designed for wood, like this:
For concrete block, brick, or stone, you’ll want a screw designed for that material, something like these:
Finally, if you’re installing your security light onto a metal surface (in my example I installed my light onto aluminum siding) you would be wise to use a screw meant for metal, like the one below.
Note that if you are using a drill bit for making your pilot holes, there are different types of them for each of these three materials. Make sure you use the right one for the job!
How to choose the right length screw for my Security Light
So while it might seem really unimportant, using the right size screw for your Wireless Security Light (or any other security device you install in your home) is actually pretty crucial to its effectiveness.
These screws – or other fasteners if you choose to go a different route, are pretty much the only thing keeping your security light from having a face to face meeting with mother earth.
If you want to skip a step, this isnt the one.
Now when you go to choose a screw length, it’s a pretty simple process.
You need to find a screw that’s just a bit longer than your light, usually I like something about half an inch (12~13mm) longer.
To check, simply hold your light and measure the length (the direction you will be installing the screw). Now add half an inch.
See? You got this no problem!
And that’s about it! You’ll want to make sure theres nothing behind your pilot hole that a half inch of screw is going to touch.
Be especially cautious to make sure there arent any wires in the path of your mounting screws.
Thanks for taking the time to read this guide. I hope it helped, and I’ll see ya next time!