Having a motion-activated night light in closets and dark hallways can be extremely convenient and helpful. I used to constantly stumble through my hallway at night, trying not to wake anyone up. Since installing a simple DIY motion-activated night light, I can now safely navigate in the dark.

In this comprehensive guide, I will walk through the entire process of making your own motion-activated night light using easy-to-find materials. We'll cover the supplies you need, how to assemble the components, installation tips, motion sensor adjustment, and troubleshooting. With just a bit of handiwork, you'll have a custom motion-sensing light to illuminate those formerly treacherous late night trips to the bathroom or kitchen.

Supplies Needed

To build a motion-activated night light, you will need the following supplies:

I'll go into more specifics on choosing these components in the next sections. Having these supplies on hand will make assembling your DIY motion-activated night light much easier.

Choosing the LED Light

The LED light provides the illumination when motion is detected. You want a light that is bright enough to guide your way but not harsh.

For small closets or hallways, an individual LED bulb works well. Go for bulbs that provide at least 450-800 lumens yet have a warm, soft glow.

For larger areas, choose an LED strip or bars to cast more uniform light. LED strips come in a variety of lengths like 16 inches up to 10 feet or more. They often have adhesive backing for easy mounting. Match the wattage and length to your space.

No matter which LED type you use, stay away from cool blue-tinged lights. The warmer white or yellow tones are less disruptive to sleep if they turn on at night.

Choosing the LED Driver

Since LED lights only run on low voltage DC current, you need an LED driver or transformer to power them. This converts 120V AC household current down to 12V or 24V DC for the LEDs.

The LED driver should match the voltage and wattage of your LED lights. LED strips usually run on 12V while bulbs can use 12V or 24V. Check the specs of your lights and get an LED driver with at least that voltage and equal or higher wattage capacity. It's better for the driver to be slightly overpowered than underpowered.

Choosing the Motion Sensor

The motion sensor detects when movement occurs and signals the lights to turn on. For this project, I recommend using a passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor. These are inexpensive and work well for DIY motion-activated lights.

When selecting a PIR motion sensor, pay attention to the following specs:

An adjustable time delay and sensitivity/range gives you more control over the activation behavior.

Choosing an Enclosure

The enclosure houses all of the electrical components and wiring. It should be made of plastic, metal, or another durable material to protect the interior.

For small LED bulbs, you can often find ready-made enclosures meant for housing pendant lights, spotlights, or sconces. They have holes for wiring that you can pass the components through.

For LED strips and larger lights, you may need to improvise or make your own enclosure. Plastic junction boxes, metal tins, or even Tupperware containers can work. Make sure the enclosure is large enough for all the items.

The enclosure plays an important role in protecting the electronics and wires. Spend time choosing or making one suited for the application.

Assembling the Components

With your supplies gathered, it's time to assemble the components. Follow these steps:

  1. Attach the LED lights to the enclosure or base. For strips, use adhesive backing or screws. For bulbs, use sockets.

  2. Connect the LED light wires to the LED driver output. Follow the wiring diagram that comes with the driver. Use wire nuts or solder if needed.

  3. Connect the LED driver input wires to the motion sensor output wires, often labeled "LOAD".

  4. Connect the motion sensor input wires to the power source, either using battery terminals or wiring to house current.

  5. Insert batteries or connect house wiring to the power input on the motion sensor.

  6. Insert all components into the enclosure and secure the cover.

Follow the wiring diagrams provided with the specific parts you purchased. Use the jumper wires to connect between terminals. Take your time assembling and checking connections.

Installation Tips

Once assembled, you'll want to properly install your DIY motion-activated night light. Here are some tips:

Proper placement of both the light and sensor is key to creating the right motion-activated coverage for your unique space.

Adjusting Motion Sensor Settings

Most PIR motion sensors have adjustable settings to control the activation behavior. Here are some adjustments you can make:

Experiment with the settings to get the right motion-activated responses for your specific needs and environment.

Troubleshooting Issues

If your DIY motion-activated night light isn't working properly, here are some troubleshooting tips:

With some testing and adjustments, you should be able to get your homemade motion-activated night light working reliably to illuminate those dark closets and hallways.


Installing DIY motion-activated night lights is an easy project with big benefits. With the steps in this guide, you should have no problem creating customized motion-sensing lights for your home using just a few affordable components. Position them in closets, hallways, staircases, or anywhere that needs hands-free lighting at night. Just be sure to test and adjust the settings to meet your specific needs. With this helpful lighting automation, you'll be able to navigate safely and easily even in the dark.