I am going to be installing one or two motion detector lights to cover my backyard. I would like the ability to "override" the motion detector. What I mean by this is that I would like to be able to flip a switch that turns and keeps the lights turned on regardless of if there is motion or not. When the light switch gets turned off I would like the operation of the motion detector to return to normal.

I first thought about just "jumping" the motion detector with the switch, but I am concerned if the motion detector would be able to handle live power on both sides of its relay when the relay is turned off.

So my questions are, is it safe to do this "jumping" method? If not are there any methods to do this or any common practices for this type of feature?

  • Do you have a constant hot in the box where the fixture is attached, or is the only feed coming from the switch leg?
    – Tim Post
    Oct 25, 2011 at 7:34
  • This is a completely new add so I would be able to put a constant hot in the box.
    – Kellenjb
    Oct 25, 2011 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


Most motion detectors have a built-in override:

  • Normally the switch is kept on all the time. The motion detector monitors ambient light (daylight) and then activates when it's dark enough, and motion is detected.
  • If you turn the switch off and on within a second or so, the light will stay on, and this overrides motion detection.
  • To go back to normal operation, turn the switch off and wait ~10 seconds, then turn back on.
  • I believe most will also go back to normal operations after some hours, or after the sun comes up again

It is possible that you'll damage the electronics by overriding the detector.

The safe way to do this would be to use a relay.

  • 6
    most every motion detector I have installed can be over ridden by rapid on/off twice, then it will stay on until turned off. next time you turn it on, it goes back to normal motion detect mode. Oct 24, 2011 at 22:18
  • 1
    I have experienced this "override" when the power flickers. I never realized this was by design. This probably is the easiest path for me to take.
    – Kellenjb
    Oct 25, 2011 at 14:19
  • I have this rig and I love it. That is to say either the motion sensor can run the outdoor sconces OR the light switch. I made choice that there were too many people to train on the 'blink the switch' method of overriding the sensor. yes You can 'jump' the sensor with a switch. remember that the sensor requires a dedicated neutral for its electronics. You can also use this method to allow the two sensors to operate the same light. I'd have to think about it logically before putting two sensors and a switch. It would work, but i'd draw a schematic for reference. this is called parallel.
    – Trout
    Jan 10, 2012 at 3:37
  • 1
    Not a very helpful answer if one's detector does not have this "rapid on/off" method of override. Mine doesn't. So I have the same question as OP... how to wire with adjacent switch to achieve what OP wanted.
    – bcsteeve
    Jun 25, 2017 at 18:55

Yes you can do this. Wire the lightswitch and the motion detector in parallel. You'll need a neutral at the detector as well. In fact, you could wire BOTH detectors and the switch in parallel. This way both lights come on when either detector activates or with the switch. Just remember as you say, the switch wont turn the light off when the detector has activated.

Nobody wants to deal with blinking the switch morse code to turn on a circuit.

  • I diagram would be immensely helpful here.
    – bcsteeve
    Jun 25, 2017 at 18:56

For a new install, you could use a switch like the Bryant Electric model 4922 three position toggle (down powers circuit 1, center is off, up powers circuit 2). (On Amazon)

Wire the up position directly to the lighting fixture(s), and the down position to the motion sensor, which then connects to the fixture(s). This gives you three choices at the switch: on, off, motion sensor.

  • Doh, "5 years ago", nm.
    – user112358
    Oct 31, 2016 at 13:05
  • There is nothing wrong with necromancy on the Stack -- although you probably should include more info on the product you linked in case the link breaks. Oct 31, 2016 at 22:49

yes you can over ride the motion with a 3 way sw to work manual or go back in motion. you need a 14/3 and 14/2 going to motion flood hot going to direct motion and red on 14/3 going to light black going to red on motion all naturals together red on common screw of 3 way and hot on same side other screw of common and black of 3 way on other screw

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