If you are looking for outdoor motion sensor lights — what used to be known as security lights — you might be in for a surprise. These used to be expensive, hardwired lights, but now they are wire-free, solar powered, and affordable.
Modern Security Lights
Today’s security lights don’t require hardwires and they don’t require permanent mounting from a ladder, rather they are unobtrusive, inexpensive lights that you can buy online. I remember buying $150+ motion sensing outdoor lights from Lutec, Hubbell Lighting, and other brands, and while those were great lights, they where a headache to install and adjust.
Permanent, hardwired outdoor motion sensing lights still exist but there is a new type of solar-powered, LED lights that you can install yourself in minutes.
One downside of the huge price drop seen in these lighting is that they come from brands many of have never heard of and might not trust. This comes with further downsides, like the lack of UL certification on many models. There is some risk in this, but since most of options are operating at very low power (just a watt or two) and they aren’t connected via hardwire, the risk might be acceptable for you.
This guide will only feature lights that are wireless, LED, and motion sensing. No electricians or power outlets will be needed for any of these. Most will be solar powered, but not all will be.
Aootek 182-LED Solar Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights
One of the most popular options for outdoor motion sensing lighting in 2020 is the 2-pack of lights from Aootek. This pack sells for about $30 and it’s a very effective way to add motion sensing lights to your home in just a few minutes.
This is the exact set I’ve been using for some time now and I’ve been quite happy with it.
The main strengths of the Aootek lights are they are effective and sensing motion (without being too sensitive), they are waterproof (IP65 certified), and they are super affordable. They are bright enough without being overwhelming. They will light the back half of a single-car driveway, or a 30-foot walkway, but that’s about the limit.
The main downsides of these lights is that they are on all the time (at about 15% power) when they are in motion sensitive mode, which is to say that create light pollution. Also, being solar-powered and not having very big batteries, they can run out of power on the nights directly after a cloudy day. This has happened to me multiple times.
My biggest problem with the Aootek lights is that they use a very blue light, something like 5500K, so the light looks artificial and cold. I’d much prefer something more orange and inviting, like an old-school mercury-vapor lamp.
Litom Original Solar Lights Outdoor
The Litom Original motion sensing light is almost the same thing as the Aootek. It costs a bit more, but it’s just as bright, has a nice, wide angle, and is IP65-certified for bad weather performance. It generally seems to be a toss-up as to which should buy, but I’ve been using the Aootek for some time now so I’d recommend that one.
Warm Motion Sensor Lights
Finding warm outdoor lights isn’t as easy as it used to be. Modern LED lights produce light more efficiently at whiter and bluer tones so most affordable lighting is very blue. That’s not something find to be comforting or inviting, so they are stuck buying expensive flood lights or wishing they have never given up their incandescent bulbs.
What you are searching for in this situation is a warm light, which is to say one that produced light that is in the color temperature range of 2700K to 3000K. That’s easy enough, but finding an outdoor, solar-powered, motion sensing, LED light that is warm is tough!
As you buy warm lights, be careful as many of them are stairway and pathway lights that are not motion sensitive! These lights typically a smaller and cheaper than motion lights that would light a driveway or a doorway.
Licwshi 1100lm Solar Lights Outdoor
I haven’t tested the Licwshi motion light yet, but it’s similar to the Aootek, just with a sleeker design and metal harder. It’s about 4x more money though, so it’s a big difference in price. The nice thing about this light is that is has two models that let’s buyer opt between very blue like (6000K) and daylight white light (4000K). The lower color temperature isn’t the orange of an old-school incandescent that you’d find indoors, but at least it’s not full-on blue-white light like the Aootek.
This light is sold in a silver model as well, which will be a nice fit more more design-y homes.
SLGOL 2-in-1 Solar Motion Sensor
Another option in the warm white spectrum is the SLGOL 2-in-1 (White and Warm) 104-LED light. This model has fewer reviews and I haven’t tested it yet, but I wanted to make it clear that warm white motion lights do exist if you hunt for them!
Brightest Motion Sensor Light
If you want bright lights without the wires, the options are limited.
Mr. Beams MB390 LED Ultra Bright Spotlight
The Mr. Beams MB3000 is the brightest light in this article, at 500 lumens. This isn’t super bright compared to an indoor LED bulb, but keep in might that it’s highly directional, so you get a smaller, brighter spot thanks to those focused lumens.
This light achieves this brightness with 4 D-cell batteries, making it one of the few non-solar lights considered for this page. Like the others it’s motion sensing and weather-proof.
This is about as bright as you can get without a hardwired light. If you do hardwire to an electrical box than you can easily get over 3000 lumens, but it’ll cost you a lot most to install the light.