I want to install a motion sensor flood light in my yard. However, I want it to always function as a motion light, but when I want constant light back there without worry about the sensor.

I want to be able to turn a light switch on to have constant light, thus “overriding” the motion sensor.

Is this possible?

I’m rather experienced with home electrical work, but can’t seem to reason through a way to make this work.

  • 3
    I have seen some motion sensing flood lights with this ability built into them. You flip the switch once on and then off and on again to override the motion sensor have constant power. – Alaska Man Jun 27 '20 at 23:58
  • Do you want the motion sensor to be an integral part of the flood light, or are you OK with a separate sensor? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 28 '20 at 0:47
  • I don’t really care whether it’s part of the light or not. Also, any chance you can give me a link to one of those style lights with that function? Thanks! – Tyler Nayavich Jun 28 '20 at 1:35
  • After some digging it turns out most motion lights actually have this feature built right in by turning the light switch off then back on again pretty quick. – Tyler Nayavich Jun 28 '20 at 1:45
  • Most motion lights DO have that feature. And most motion lights fail after a few years. See if you can find one with a long warranty. – Steve Wellens Jun 28 '20 at 14:22

I have hooked up motion lights and used a 12/3 wire the normal black feeder conductor to the hot black for the sensor and the red feeder to the red of the light using a 3 way switch with the switch in 1 position the black is fed in the other position the lights are on. At first to turn this off I had to use the breaker. I later replaced the single 3 way switch with a double 3 way and fed the power through 1 switch so that would kill the power and still have my motion / override function.


My approach (which may not be your approach) is to use relays in parallel - so the motion sensor switches a relay that switches the lights, and the switch switches a relay that switches the lights (though the switch, if adequately "dumb" could just switch the lights directly.)

The reason I do this is that the motion sensor circuitry may not like being "backfed" hot on it's "output" wire - it may not care, but then again it may expire, and most won't specify as they don't "expect" to be used this way. Relay contacts don't give a fig about being "backfed" and each relay coil is independent of each other relay coil (this also allows combining motion sensor outputs so that any sensor switches all the outside lights, if desired.)

  • Note that this works best with a commercial-type low-voltage motion sensor and associated powerpack (with the powerpack supplying the relay) – ThreePhaseEel Jun 30 '20 at 0:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.