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Nothing scares thieves and vandals at night, like a light that suddenly switches on the moment they step on your property. It makes them stick out so clearly, even from a mile away. Nothing grabs attention like a sudden light appearing in darkness on a bunch of crooks in the act. With CCTV these lights are also useful if your cameras don’t have night vision. Onlookers can become desensitized to lights that are always turned on, potentially allowing criminals to sneak past unnoticed. But a light that suddenly beams the moment they intrude, can grab the attention of anyone nearby.
Motion activated sensor lights have existed for decades. Modern versions now use energy saving LEDs, which unlike fluorescent compacts, are environmentally friendlier with zero mercury, and don’t emit UV radiation. Leaving lights running all night is a nuisance. These motion activated lights significantly save energy by only switching on when something or someone is detected, moving in the field of the sensor. A few units don’t switch off at night, but merely dim the light when there’s no motion detected. They deter and detect prowling troublemakers, while providing convenient lighting for the residents of a home, and their legitimate guests.
People are prepared to pay more for wireless, because the expense can’t compare to the cost of hiring a licensed electrician to wire it up. Wireless lights in today’s world are either powered by batteries alone, or have batteries that automatically recharge through a built-in solar panel. If you have many lights, replacing batteries can be a hassle. But solar lights, even with costs on par, are struggling to dominate. One weakness with solar lights is the need to be placed where there is sunlight during daytime. So mounting them in hidden locations like under a roof, is not advised.
Mr. Beams MB360 140 Lumen
This light was designed for security. It’s easy to install and uses common D size batteries. Surprisingly the batteries can last up to 12 months, even if the light is motion activated up to ten times a day. Don’t worry about wasted daytime light activation, because this light only switches on at night, and goes off after 30 seconds of no motion stimulation. But the batteries might become problematic in freezing cold snowy weather. The white light is only 2 watts, like a full moon amplified four times the brightness or 140 lumens. It’s designed to endure outdoor weather conditions.
The motion sensor area slightly exceeds the 400 square feet area of light. It can detect small moving creatures like a running cat, but not a slow walking cat. The light head is UV resistant plastic connected to an arm that is screw mounted. Humidity might get inside and cause corrosion. Fogging of the sensor cover might temporarily prevent motion detection. Normally the sensor is very reliable at detecting people. It has a detection range of up to 30 feet. The edge of the lit area is not a sharp contrast with the night. It has a 1 year warranty.
URPOWER Solar Lights 8 LED
This solar powered light has been designed for security. It has eight emitting light diodes in the bulb. It’s resistant to many weather conditions, and has some heat resistance. The light will switch on after detecting motion up to three meters away. It’ll go off after 30 seconds of no motion. It is mounted by screws and weighs 1.4 pounds. This LED glares like automotive headlights, and seems similarly designed like an automotive LED, based on the positioning and type of diodes. If you get a faulty unit, quickly return it for a good one which should last reasonably long.
Unfortunately the solar panel only has a five year life. But these lights are good value for money. They are within the price range of non-solar security lights. But don’t let solar power confuse you, obviously this light has at least one rechargeable battery, that charges during daylight hours, so it can power the device at night. It can fully recharge in around 6-8 hours of sunlight. This is useful for winters with shorter daylight hours. The light can shine continuously for up to 12 hours on a full recharge. Just like solar panels, rechargeable batteries have a limited lifespan.
Mr. Beams MB723 Stick-Anywhere Nightlight
The three packs were previously very popular, but at the time of writing, only the solo units remained available. The light only does 20 lumens over an area of 10 square feet, with a motion sensor range of up to 15 feet. A light sensor prevents the unit from turning on the LED during daylight to prevent battery wastage. The LED is claimed to never need replacing. The intense, white light is irritating, so it is recommended to mount them at a low level. Fortunately the light faces downward. The light switches off after 30 seconds without any motion stimulation.
The batteries can last up to a year, maybe longer. The light blinks when the batteries need replacing. Unlike the MB360 and MB393, both reviewed below, this one uses four AA batteries. It runs on 6 volts at 1 wattage of energy, weighing 9.6 ounces. It’s designed for deterring thieves and lighting homes like stairs. The unit is weatherproof. A number of people weren’t happy with the double-sided mounting tape. If you don’t like it, just buy another tape or use screws, a good light shouldn’t be penalized over some temporary attachment tape. It is strong and durable for years.
Swiftly Done Outdoor Security Solar Powered LED
This palm-sized, solar-powered, motion-activated, 8 watt, 80 lumen LED is heat resistant, and weather resistant. It was designed by RJ Technologies, with security on mind. It’s so quick to install because there’s adhesive on the back. It can stick on surfaces like metal, wood and even bricks. If you don’t like the adhesive, two screws are included. The solar panel is 0.44 watts with a lifespan of only 5 years. The LED has a lifespan of 50,000 hours. It uses lithium batteries. If you get a faulty one, quickly contact the company for a replacement, they have good customer service.
It’s one of those lights that dims when there’s no motion detected, and it brightens when something triggers the motion sensor. After 10 seconds it’ll go dim again, if there’s no more motion stimulation. 10 seconds is too short, it could go dim while you’re standing there reading. When the night ends, the dim light switches off. During short winter days, this light could get enough charge to work all night in the freezing cold. But clouds can cause you energy shortages. The motion sensor has a perceptive range of 120 degrees, at a distance up to only 10 feet.
Mr. Beams MB383/393 300-Lumen
Unlike Mr. Beams’ MB360 ranked at number one, this one has extra features. These extra features can cost you a quarter more on the price. The most obvious physical difference is two lights instead of one, and 300 lumen brightness instead of 140 lumens. This one runs on lithium batteries and is 6 volts, unlike the MB360 at 4.5 volts. This unit is much heavier at 2.9 pounds, compared with the 5.6 ounces of the MB360. Be careful to avoid breaking the thin plastic cover for the motion sensor. The model number MB383 is for white and MB393 is black.
A notable weakness compared with the cheaper MB360, is a sensor range of up to 25 feet, rather than up to 30 feet for the MB360. This light also switches off after 20 seconds without motion stimulation, rather than 30 seconds for the MB360. The LEDs are claimed to: “never need replacing.” These units can be conveniently mistaken for CCTV. An interesting feature of Mr. Beams’ lights, is the light sensors which prevent LED activation if daylight is detected. It’s fair enough that some types of large outdoor lights can “fool” these light sensors into “thinking” it’s not night time.
What to Look For
The term weatherproof doesn’t necessarily mean the unit can withstand any weather conditions. Some of them have problems with extreme weather. You need to find out whether your weather needs are compatible with the unit you like. Units with built-in solar panels need good sun exposure, this badly limits where they can be placed. Clouds and winter daylight shortages, risk a failure to fully solar recharge a battery, and this might cause battery damage if it is overused during the night. Consider how much lighting you will need, and whether you prefer a light that switches off, or merely dims.
The top five were dominated by Mr. Beams quality, affordable, efficient units, with three entries including the number one position. None of them were solar, but the two remaining entries from two different companies were solar. It’s amazing how the Mr. Beams lights use common batteries you can find cheap in a supermarket, which can last the device up to a year, maybe longer. The reviewed solar rivals were designed to fully recharge their lithium batteries every day. The terrible disadvantage with the solar units, is they need to have sun exposure. Reliability and weather tolerance are important for security.