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Motion Sensor Troubleshooting

A motion sensor can be used in conjunction with an outdoor motion sensor light and can be installed on a home for security purposes. When it detects outdoor motion, the sensor signals the light to turn on. Motion sensors can also be used inside to detect motion, heat signatures, and noises then signal an alarm system. Other motion sensors are used on garage doors, doorbells, and restricted areas. These signals may not be triggered if there is a problem with the sensor. Most motion sensor problems can easily be fixed without having to replace it. Continue reading to find common problems and how to fix your motion sensor.

Fixing common motion sensor light problems

Motion sensor lights have many uses including alerting you of an intruder and saving energy. If there is something wrong with the sensor, it cannot detect motion and signal the light to come on. Look at these common problems and their troubleshooting steps to fix your motion detector.

Light will not turn off

Sometimes motion sensor lights will not turn off after an electrical surge. If you find the motion sensor light is still on after resetting all the electrical components in your home, reset the motion sensor. Remove the light from the wall and press the red reset button until the light turns off.

Frost or ice can damage a motion sensor light. The light will be stuck in the “ON” position if ice lands on the plastic. If this happens, remove the light from the wall and place it in a warm area until the light shuts off.

Light will not turn on

The troubleshooting steps to make a motion sensor light turn off are the same steps that can be used to switch on a light. If the previous methods did not work, the light may have a damaged photocell and will need to be cleaned or replaced. Clean the sensor regularly to help avoid clogging. To temporarily solve the problem, you can increase the sensor’s sensitivity.

Replacing the battery

A simple step most motion sensor users overlook is checking the battery. A low battery can affect the operation of the sensor keeping the lights from turning on or may show alerts on the display. Before replacing the battery, switch the system to test mode then remove the screws from the motion detector. Change the batteries then replace the motion detector. Remove the system from test mode once you are finished.

Sensor failure

When the sensor is not communicating with the control panel, it causes a sensor failure. First, make sure the sensor is programmed to the control panel. Next, press the button on the panel labeled status. The status helps determine which sensor is causing the problem.

Check the environment to see if something is interfering with the communication. Make sure the internet router and all electrical equipment is not close to the control panel. Also, check if any electrical lines are running behind the panel. Relocate the sensor or the panel if they are not within 100 feet of each other. A failure in communication can happen if they are too far apart. If any of the listed interferences are present, move the equipment to avoid sensor failure.

Setting the sensitivity

Every motion sensor has a dial to allow you to calibrate how much movement is needed to trigger the equipment’s action. If small animals or insects trigger your motion sensor, consider recalibrating its sensitivity with these steps.

  • Move the switch to the test position
  • At first, set the sensitivity dial halfway between minimum and maximum
  • Walk across the sensor’s field of view to activate it
  • Raise the sensitivity dial to increase the distance the sensor will cover or to increase the responsiveness
  • Lower the sensitivity dial to decrease the distance the sensor will cover or to decrease the responsiveness
  • Move the switch away from the test position once the adjustments are complete

Adjusting the sensor

Most times, the sensor is mounted under the light. If your lights are not turning on, clean the plastic covering the sensor with soapy water to remove dirt and debris. Follow these steps to adjust the sensor if the problem continues.

  • Move the switch to the test position
  • Loosen the screws that are holding the sensor to the fixture and move it up, down, or rotate it. Raising the sensor will expand the zone as lowering it will contract them.
  • Tighten the screws once it is centered on the desired field of view
  • Walk across the sensor’s field of view to activate it
  • Fine tune the area by following the steps to set the sensitivity
  • Move the switch away from the test position once the adjustments are complete

Avoiding false alarms

Motion detectors can set off false alarms when used in security systems. False alarms can be caused by improper installation and moving objects in the sensor’s range. To reduce risk of false alarms, use these tips

  • If you decide to have your system installed by a professional, ensure they are licensed in your state
  • Interactive features such as a remote arm/disarm, text messages, and email notifications reduce false alarms by making the system easier to use and control remotely
  • Ensure you purchase a system that does not activate with pets

Motion sensors help lessen the risk of home invasions by alerting the owners and authorities, so it is imperative they are well maintained. You may encounter brand specific problems that are not covered here. If you are still having an issue with your system after reading these troubleshooting tips, ask an Expert for further help.

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