Best locations for security motion lights

The best places to put outdoor motion lights. Is this topic even worth writing about? Yes! Why? Because home security is important. It begins at the perimeter.

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


Outdoor Motion Light Locations

First I want to address this issue:

The Best Height For Motion Lights

How high up should you mount a motion light?

It may seem somewhat irrelevant. You may be restricted to the existing design parameters of your home and the accessibility to install the electrics. However height does make a difference for a motion light.

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

The RAB Stealth (being the best) will reach 60 feet. Their technical specs indicate optimum height of 10 feet for that:

RAB STL360 mounting height

Before I suggest motion light locations that you might not have thought of,

Most Are Above The Garage

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.



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

Additionally, you will find most lights to be on the front side of the house. That’s fine. However it’s important to understand the mindset of a burglar. They love the shadows (read on).


The Back Door

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

It’s fairly easy to install because there’s already a light fixture there. All you have to do is replace it with a good outdoor motion light. Or, leave the original light and tap off the circuit to install the motion light nearby.

I wrote about what I consider to be the best one in this article.

Have you thought of this?

Each Side of the House

When home security is of a greater concern though, here’s what I recommend:
Each side of the house.

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 is more likely to approach from the back or sides of the house. It’s usually darkest there and obviously away from the front / street where there’s a better chance of being seen. The burglar is not going to walk right up a walkway so bear that in mind when you’re considering a motion light location.


It’s About Deterrence

A key to the thought process of where to put your motion lights, is early deterrence.

A thief is going to be ‘jumpy’ to begin with. The sooner you have light on an intruder, the better. An unexpected illumination may send him running…

So in addition to your convenience locations, an important motion light location is along the sides and back of the house. Consider the direction where an intruder might use to avoid detection. Ideally you will want to cover the entire perimeter around your house with motion light coverage.


Motion Light Location
No Power? No Problem

Lets face it. Unless you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person with enough electrical knowledge, installing a new motion light where there’s no existing fixture 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 there. I wanted to illuminate part of the road which I could still see from the house. I chose a solar motion light which so far is doing a good job (mounted on a makeshift pole that I put together).

The point is, a solar motion light may be a relatively simple way to get more coverage outside your house.

This is the one I bought. So far so good. The sensor distance is about 30 feet. You’ll never get as good as the RAB Stealth, but not bad for a solar motion light.
Sunforce Solar Triple Head Motion Security Light
sunforce solar motion light

This type of lighting can be mounted nearly anywhere, but will require a mounting position which receives enough direct sunlight during the day to keep the batteries well charged. Though it will still charge in indirect sun – just not as much.


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 with a 120-volt 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.

Related: Solar Motion Lights For Outside – Bright Enough To Be Useful

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