Control Two Outdoor Light Fixtures with a Motion Detector

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How can I have a motion sensor light also control another light fixture? How to Control Two Light Fixtures with a Motion Detector, Guide to Controlling Two Outside Light Fixtures, Electrical Wiring Modification for Controlling Outdoor Lighting.

Guide to Controlling Two Outside Light Fixtures

Electrical Question: How can I have a motion sensor light also control another light fixture?

  • I have a ceiling porch light and another outdoor light on my attached garage that are both controlled by a light switch inside the house.
  • I want to replace the existing outdoor garage light with a motion detection light fixture.
  • I see 12-2 Romex wires in the porch ceiling box coming from the inside light switch and another set of wires that I assume go to the light outside the garage where I want the motion light.
  • No red wires are visible.
  • I want the motion sensor light to also control the porch light and have the porch light go on/off when the motion light by the garage goes on/off.

How can I do this please?

This electrical wiring question came from: Carol, a Homeowner from Centennial Colorado.
Additional Comments: Just found your website – a lot of very useful information!

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Carol.
Carol, there are a few ways to accomplish this.

How to Control Two Light Fixtures with a Motion Detector

Application: Outdoor Motion Detector Light Fixture
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a Voltage Tester and a fiberglass ladder.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and work with the light circuit wiring.
Precaution: Identify the panel lighting circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Modifying or installing additional electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Electrical Wiring Modification for Controlling  Outdoor Lighting

  • The Existing Power Source
    The power source at the inside switch location must be isolated from the light fixture control.
  • New Power Source
    A new power source must be located in the garage must be taken to the desired location of the motion detector light fixture.
  • Light Fixtures
    Purchase a pair of light fixtures where one is rated to control both light fixtures, or purchase a separate motion detector that has the capacity to control the two light fixtures that you desire. Pay special attention to the rated watts or amperage.

Suggestion for Efficiency and Savings

  • Install Two Motion Detector Light Fixtures
    Install two motion controlled light fixtures. This will not require any wiring modifications however these units will operate independently but should still provide the desired amount of lighting.
  • Automation Devices such as X-10
    Install two compatible automated fixtures, one being the master control, the other being the slave unit.

Outdoor Lighting Projects
If this confuses you then your outdoor lighting project is best accomplished by hiring an electrician who understands lighting controls and home automation systems.

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Installing Motion Detector Light Fixtures
Installing motion detector lighting fixtures provide security and energy savings and they can easily replace an existing exterior wall fixture.

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One Response to “Control Two Outdoor Light Fixtures with a Motion Detector”
  1. Bill says:

    How do you shorten an outdoor string of lights that has three wires ? Thanks. Bill


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