Best locations for security motion lights

Motion Sensor Light Location and Best Height

Thoughts and opinion on where to put motion sensor lights, as well as the best height for the security light.

Motion lights are put up outdoors for two reasons. Convenience and Security.

Outdoor Motion Sensor Light Locations

Other than ordinary convenience, location placement is about deterrence.

A key to the thought process of where to put your motion sensor lights, are places where you’re likely to deter a burglar. The sooner the better.

A thief is going to be ‘jumpy’ to begin with. The sooner you have light bathed on an intruder, the better. An unexpected illumination will absolutely be a deterrence.

So in addition to your convenience-oriented locations, consider the direction an intruder might use to avoid detection. Read on for some ideas.

First I want to address this issue:

The Best Height For Security Lights

How high up should you mount a motion security light?

You might think that it doesn’t matter. However, it does for best performance (and another reason I’ll mention in a minute).

You might not always be able to get the best height because you might be restricted due to existing design parameters of your home. And /or the accessibility to install the electrics to power the motion security lights (see the article link below for solar motion lights).

For most outdoor motion security lights, the optimum or best height is between 6 and 10 feet up off the ground. If you’re looking for maximum sensor detection distance, mount the security light 8 – 10 feet up. If you go much higher than that, you will likely start to lose motion detection distance.

For example, the RAB Stealth outdoor motion light (being the overall best in my opinion) will reach 60 feet. Their technical specs indicate an optimum mounting height of 10 feet for that:

RAB STL360 mounting height

Here’s the other reason that’s important for the best height… High enough so that the unit cannot be easily accessed. A burglar who is casing out a neighborhood will approach a house during the day (while most are at work) and unscrew the bulbs. That night, they’ll return. I’ve actually seen this happen.

#1 Location To Mount A Motion Sensor Light Is Above The Garage Door

The #1 motion light location where you’ll see them mounted is above the garage door. This makes sense for convenience, practicality and basic security if you only have one location in mind.

#2 Location – Home Entrance Walkways

The second most popular location are walkways to /from entrances of the house. Again, convenience. Makes sense.

Other Places To Put Motion Sensor Lights…

Back Door Motion Light

Pretty much every home will have at least an ordinary switched light at the back door. But how many have a motion light there too?

It’s fairly easy to install because there’s already a light fixture there to access power from inside. You might either replace the existing light, or add a separate motion sensor light nearby – next to that location. The issue with adding a motion security light with an existing porch light is that the existing light is switched. An electrician (or DIY if qualified yourself) would need to tap the hot wire and feed it through to the new motion sensor light.

Motion Sensor Light At Each Side Of The House

When home security is of a greater concern, here’s what I recommend: Mount one on each side of the house somewhere.

Motion light locations will be somewhat dictated by the layout of your home’s exterior and the surrounding land configuration including driveways, walkways, property entrance points, etc.

With that said, the objective is to eliminate or minimize any dark areas upon approach to the house from any direction.

A burglar might be more likely to approach from the back or sides of the house if they can. Why? Because it’s usually darkest there and obviously away from the front / street where there’s a better chance of being seen. So cover those areas of ingress. Bathe them with light when there’s motion sensed.

Motion Sensor Lights That Are Further Away From The House

This is more doable for those who have more land to cover, especially those who may live rural. For example, I live at the end of my 1/3 mile long private road. I have lots of areas to cover! And what about covering areas where there is no access to grid power?

Motion Light Locations Without Electricity – No Power? No Problem

Lets face it. Unless you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person with enough electrical knowledge to do so, installing a new motion light where there’s no existing fixture or access to AC power – will require an electrician.

Instead you might consider solar powered outdoor motion lights. The technology is getting better. Brighter illumination (lumens), better panels and batteries.

I live off the beaten path on a private road. There’s no readily accessible power along the road. The issue is easily resolved with LED motion lights powered by lithium batteries – which are charged by a solar panel.

A solar powered motion light may be a relatively simple way to get more coverage outside your house.

This type of lighting can be mounted nearly anywhere. However the more exposed to sunlight, the better for charging the internal batteries. With that said, I’ve found that indirect sun seems to work pretty well too.

I have purchased a number of various makes and models with this technology as it has evolved over time. Such as the following, because you can set it to stay on for 2 minutes upon sensing (whereas many solar-powered models these days only stay on for 15 seconds or thereabouts upon motion sensing – not long enough in my opinion).

LEPOWER 1600 lumen

Motion Light Location: SUMMARY

If your property is big enough, I believe a best case scenario is to have two perimeters of light around the house. One installed farther out, which would be triggered first (probably solar lights). The second perimeter is based on the home itself.

The first perimeter (furthest away) will require either permanent installed 120-volt AC wiring to each location, or the use of solar powered lighting systems.

The second perimeter (at the house) can also be handled either way, but you will get more light (lumens) with a 120-volt AC system (normal house power).

In summary, consider outdoor motion lights for your home and property. Go outside and walk your perimeter. Visualize yourself as the intruder and discover the weak spots where you may get on to your property undetected. Bathe these locations with motion lights.

[ Read: One Of The Better Outdoor Motion Lights For Home Security ]

[ Read” Solar Motion Lights For Outside – Bright Enough To Be Useful ]


  1. – One consideration for “security” lighting is they need to be out of reach for a six-foot man standing on the ground under it, otherwise you may find your light bulb missing. Try to avoid having rocks and the like around if you have a more rural location, in town someone might notice a light going out but it is unlikely in the country. Ask me how I learned this?

    – Papa S.

  2. If you have neighbors DO NOT just wall mount the most powerful thing to your wall or allow it to shine more than 45 degrees up. Two morons on my street are doing just that. It blinds drivers coming up the street, it creates even more light pollution and it creates shadows for an intruder to move in. Lastly it blows out the night vision on other peoples cameras so they area you are trying so hard to see is now blind to the camera looking at it. Put them up high and aim them low.

  3. TMac,
    Re: your goofy neighbor’s lights. That’s what they make pellet guns for.
    Have had similar issues with yard lights, but found that after I presented my case for preserving the dark night sky, the offending parties turned them off permanently. Maybe mail them an anonymous note might have some effect?

    1. Minerjim – 3 generations living under one roof, all on public assistance, 11 vehicles domiciled at the address, the Amazon wagon makes 3 stops per day there, they throw blowout parties for every occasion. After we moved there 19 years ago and after asking nicely I put an aggressive stop to their 5 am early-bird yard sales on Saturday morning, ya know because we were imprisoned in our home by the ‘tard parade blocking driveways with their ‘be-back’ lights flashing. Every one of them has held a vicious grudge against me for two decades over that. If any projectile took out anything over there the police would be at my door in a minute. And then they’d just order more stupid crap on Amazon and paste it randomly on their walls. Dull, blank-stare, maggot-brained, abject stupidity.

      Oh BTW, this household has been victimized by petty night time vehicle crimes more than anyone else on the street. Apparently when you don’t pay for living expenses you one can afford a $100k truck with a $3,000 catalytic under a conveniently lifted body. Stupid useless eaters and breeders.

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