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How To Install An Outdoor Motion Sensor Light
I learned something new the other day, and it was super simple: how to install a new light fixture. Yes, read that again. It was SIMPLE!
Before I decided to add one more project to my crazy long to-do list, I double checked with Chris to make sure that he wasn’t trying to trick me into ticking off his to-do list. He promised that the process was simple enough that I could teach it to a friend if I wanted to. That means that you are in luck, friend!
Chris broke the process down for me, then I installed a light all by myself while he got ready for work. Now that I have done it, I promise this is cake! What are you waiting for? Let’s get our DIY on.
Prepare The New Light Fixture
First things first, make sure to shut the power off. Find the breaker box in your house, and turn off the area of the house that you will be in. For me, that meant the porch. If you can, flip every switch over just to be safe. 😉 I definitely didn’t want to get electrocuted, and I don’t want you to either so be smart and use your better judgment for this project.
Disassemble Your New Light
Now that you have the power off, I want you to open your new light fixture and take it apart so that it will be ready to put up as soon as you get the old one off. This will also help you get familiar with the wiring, which will make taking the old light fixture off easier.
Every light will vary depending on the style, but they are simple and most will have instructions on how to take them apart if you can’t tell by looking. My outdoor motion sensor light had three bolts like the one below that I unscrewed to take the cover off.
On a side note, this light is probably the most attractive motion sensor light I have come across. If you like it, you can buy the same light here.
Once my cover was off, it looked like this:
Now take off the little screws that look like this:
My light had two of them. Make sure to keep track of the pieces as you take everything apart because you will need it all when it is time to put it back together! Flip your light over and pull this metal piece out of the back:
Great job! Your light is ready and waiting, now you need to make room for it!
Remove the Old Light Fixture
Grab Your Ladder!
Before you can do anything, you have to be able to reach! Grab a ladder and try to set the top as close to the light fixture as possible. This will make installing the new light much easier, but more on that later! Make sure to snap that photobomb when your cutie can’t resist climbing up to catch a glimpse of the action. 😉
Remove the Old Light Fixture
The process for removing the old light is similar to what you just did with the new light. Look for screws holding the cover in place somewhere. Take care to hold onto the cover when you loosen the screws because gravity is not on your side this time! Cleaning up a shattered glass cover would take longer than the light installation itself!
This next part might look familiar. Just find the screws and remove them. Lefty loosey will do the trick.
Be prepared for some cobwebs. Remember, there is nothing alive in that old dustball. For real though, that cobweb is ancient. Look at it! If this part freaks you out…well you need to get your priorities straight.
Just teasing! You may or may not come to another plate that will need to be removed in order to completely remove the old fixture. If you do, just remove the screws again.
Now I want you to look through the nastiness and notice where the wires connect. See those cone-like things? They are called wire nuts, and you need to remove them. Lefty loosey again.
Your old light fixture is off! Hurray!
Just to be safe, make sure to keep the white and black wires from touching anything. There shouldn’t be a risk but it’s always best to take safety precautions. Now we get to install the new fixture!
How To Install Your New Light Fixture
Grab the metal piece that we removed from the new light earlier and carefully pull the wires from the ceiling in through the center hole, with the “bolts” pointing toward the floor. I forgot to get a picture of this step, but I am talking about this piece:
Line the slots up with the metal piece that is in the ceiling and use the screws that came with your light fixture to screw this metal piece into place. My ceiling lined up with the inside slots, but do whatever fits properly for your situation. You can see what I mean below:
Now that you have your mounting bracket installed, it is time to put the bottom of the light fixture on. This is where having the ladder up high will come in handy, because you need to connect your wires in this step. Grab your wire nuts, screwdriver, and the light fixture and climb on up.
See that copper wire? It is called a ground wire and we need to connect it to the bracket before we do anything else. This wire is an extra path for electricity to reach the earth in case of a short circuit. Basically, if something goes wrong and the light receives too much power, this wire provides a safe way to get rid of the extra energy.
There should be a little green screw on your mounting bracket. That is where the ground wire will be attached. To make life a bit easier, create a hook before you try to screw the wire on. It doesn’t show in the picture, but I also bent the hooked area back so that I could press it right up against the bracket with ease. Make sure to put the tip of the wire to the right so that the wire will be wrapped around the screw as it is tightened. This is the hardest part if you ask me. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it right away. You can do it!
Also, ignore my unmanicured hands. You can do this with pretty hands, I promise!
Once your ground wire is attached, match the white wire to the white, and the black wire to the black. Twist the ends together and use your wire nuts to secure them. Make sure that you twist the wires together so that they both have the wire at the tip, otherwise the wire nuts will not want to grab on. The wire nuts are threaded, so all you have to do is push them onto the wire(push with a little force), and twist them to the right like a bottle cap.
We are so close to done! Push the now connected wires up into the ceiling, and line the mounting bracket “bolts” up with the light fixture in order to put it back together.
Then install your lightbulbs, set your sensor settings if you need to, and put the cover on.
Voila! A brand new porch light, ready to be used. Now you can turn the power back on and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that will be taking over right about now. Look at that gorgeous light! It is so much better than the before, eh?
Click here to purchase this motion sensor light.
Overall, the ground wire took me a few tries, but this project only took me about half an hour to complete, and I kept pausing to take pictures! Talk about an easy upgrade!
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