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How do you reset a motion sensor light?

outdoor led light

Most motion sensing lights use a passive system which functions by detecting infrared energy around. For those meant to detect human beings, the sensor is made sensitive to human body temperature which is about 93 degrees Fahrenheit. This means they emit 9 to 10 micrometers of wavelength meaning the sensors should be made sensitive to a range of 8 to 12 micrometers. The sensor depends on rapid or sudden altering an amount of infrared charge in the sensors field of view. The lens covering the sensor gives the motion sensing light a vast field of view.

Reasons, why the light may fail to shut off, are:

Sensitivity:  Most lights come with a sensitivity and range setting allowing customizations. The reason why the light may be on for most of the time is when the sensitivity is set too high meaning the light is triggered by minimal factors like distant objects or even bugs. A solution to this is by reducing the sensitivity of the motion sensor using the adjustment knob or settings on the light.

Duration settings: The motion lights have a setting on how long they are supposed to stay on when they turn on. The appropriate time should range from 5 to 10 minutes at most. If the duration is too long means the lights stay on for longer after detecting any motion.

Jamming in one mode: When you turn the motion sensors switch on and off in a span of three seconds, the light goes into “auto-on” mode meaning it will stay on and will not go off even after the specified duration. To reset the lights into “auto off-on” mode turn the light switch off for 10 or so seconds before turning it back on and it’ll go back to the normal functioning mode.

This works well if done at night because if done during the day, light interference may occur. After doing this the light should behave normally and go off after the set duration is reached.

However, for those motion sensor that doesn’t operate on a switch, you need to reset it by using the circuit breaker.

The following steps should be followed to achieve this:

  • Since this is a procedure for motion sensor lights with no switch, you have to operate using the circuit breaker. When you turn off the circuit breaker you should ensure that you have a secondary light source if you’re doing this at night since the light will be off.
  • After you have left the circuit breaker or the switch off for a few seconds, you can now turn the outdoor light on again. It’s a preference of many people to leave the switch off for some minutes just to ensure that the sensor has been fully reset.
  • The motion sensor is now expected to recalibrate itself and reset itself to the normal automatic mode with no issues. You can test to see whether the procedures have worked and this can be done by walking or inducing motion near the sensor. If it’s back to its normal functioning, the light should go on and then off after the specified duration is over. If this does not work, repeat the above procedure but allow for a longer duration of time before turning the circuit breaker back on.

However, some problems with these lights would require for you to have a professional fix them since interfering with them can cause damage to the light.

Some of these damages that damage the light include:  

  1. Damage from a power surge at home.
  2. Damage from a storm or adverse climatic conditions.
  3. Freezing or cold weather damage.
  4. Aging of the motion sensor due to low durability.
  5. Improper installation of the light since the beginning which has later effects on the light.


Resetting motion sensor light is not a complicated task and does not require a skilled technician to correct. Following the above procedures should get your light back on track. It’s important to ensure that the motion sensor is on override for the least times possible and should be on “auto on-off” mode for most of the time to ensure maximum functionality.

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