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Motion Sensor Lights vs Dusk to Dawn Lights

Motion Sensor Lights

Motion sensor lights typically use infrared motion sensors to trigger a light to turn on when a person crosses the infrared light beam. They go on for a set length of time and then go off again automatically. Some can be set up to turn on a light on the inside of the home or building instead of or in addition to outside where the sensor is located.


The strengths of such lighting are that it alerts an intruder that he or she is being watched and the lighting makes it easier to see the intruder; at the same time, very little electricity is wasted when there is no intruder. Further, the lighting can wake up or otherwise alert the owner of the property so that protective actions can be taken.


Because the intention is to provide a deterrent to an intruder and to alert the property owner, motion sensor lights are typically rather bright.


Dawn-to-Dusk Lights

Dawn-to-Dusk lights are triggered on and off by the amount of light reaching the fixture’s sensor. They automatically turn on in daylight and turn off at night.  They do not provide an alerting role but merely provide enough light to see an intruder and, therefore, deter an intruder from entering an area.


Because dawn-to-dusk lights are on all night, they are typically of low intensity to conserve electricity and to keep from disturbing neighbors.



Dawn-to-dusk lights are not generally very bright and will serve a modest role in deterring intruders. For strongest deterrence, motion sensor lights are generally the most effective-- if you have enough of them to cover all of the points of potential entry.