How to Build a Simple Motion-Activated Light for Your Garage in 1 Hour


Installing a motion-activated light in your garage is an easy and affordable way to add security and functionality. With just a few basic materials, you can build and install a simple motion sensor light in about an hour, even if you don't have much DIY experience.

In this article, I'll walk you step-by-step through the process of selecting the right components, assembling the light fixture, and mounting it in your garage. By the end, you'll have a fully functional motion sensor light to illuminate your garage when movement is detected.

Things You'll Need

Before getting started, make sure you have the following materials:

That's everything you need to get started! Now let's go through the installation process step-by-step.

Step 1: Turn Off Power

Before doing any work, turn off the power to the garage at the circuit breaker. Installing a light fixture involves dealing with electrical wires, so it's crucial to shut off the power first for safety.

Make sure the power is off by flipping the circuit breaker switches fully to the "OFF" position. I recommend taping the circuit breaker switches in the off position as an extra precaution while working.

Step 2: Mount the Fixture

Decide where you want to install the motion sensor light fixture. Most people mount them centered above the main garage door for optimal coverage.

You can mount the fixture on the wall or ceiling. Ceiling mounted lights provide the widest coverage. Wall mounting is easier if you don't want to work overhead on a ladder.

Wall Mounting

If wall mounting, hold the fixture in position and mark the mounting hole locations with a pencil. Drill small pilot holes in the marked locations, then secure the fixture base to the wall using the included mounting screws and anchors.

Ceiling Mounting

For ceiling installation, start by Screwing a mounting bracket into the junction box or into anchor points in ceiling. Then mount the fixture to the bracket according to the instructions.

Make sure the light sensor points out into the garage in the direction you want it to detect motion.

Step 3: Connect the Wires

Now it's time to wire up the light fixture. Here are the steps:

  1. Have an assistant hold the light fixture in place while you connect the wires.

  2. Strip 1/2" of insulation from the ends of the fixture wires. Match the wire colors/labels with the corresponding wires coming from the junction box in the ceiling.

  3. Connect the white (neutral) wires together using a wire nut. Twist them clockwise to secure the connection.

  4. Connect the black (live) wires together in the same way.

  5. Connect the grounding wires (copper/green) together with a third wire nut.

  6. Wrap electrical tape around each wire nut to protect the connections.

Follow the fixture manual if you need to install additional wiring like a ground wire. Make sure no bare wire is exposed when you're done.

Step 4: Install the Light Bulb

Insert your chosen light bulb into the socket on the fixture. LED and CFL bulbs last much longer than incandescent.

Make sure it's tightened securely to make proper contact with the socket. Install any fixture covers if needed.

Step 5: Turn Power Back On and Test

Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker and flip the light switch to test. Walk in front of the sensor and check that the light comes on.

Adjust the sensitivity dial and aim of the sensor to get the motion detection working just right. You want it to detect movement in your desired coverage area but ignore activity outside the garage.

Finally, do a night test by turning off all lights. Walk through the garage and make sure the motion sensor light works properly in the dark.

Enjoy your new motion-activated light for enhanced visibility and security! Let me know if you have any other questions.