Motion Sensor Light Switch Wiring Explained

Lead Image
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30
What You'll Need
Motion sensor switch

A motion sensor light switch is a great way of saving energy and helping out the planet by making your home greener and more energy-efficient. A motion sensor light switch will automatically detect when someone enters the room and turn on the lights. Then, after a few minutes where no movement has been detected, the lights will then automatically shut themselves off. If you're the type of person that frequently forgets to turn off the lights when leaving a room, this type of light switch can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs. Although a motion sensor light switch is indeed a marvel of technology, the installation of the switch is relatively simple. In fact, you install a motion sensor light switch much in the same way as you would a single pole light switch (regular lever type switch). This article will address how to wire a motion sensor light switch when replacing an older lever type switch.

Looks More Complicated than it is

Before getting access to the electrical box to work at it, the main circuit breaker must be turned off at the source to prevent anyone from getting an injury or electrical shock.

Whenever you purchase a motion sensor light switch, you will notice that there are many wires on the back of the switch. Once you see this, you might get the idea that the installation of the light switch is complicated and something you might not be able to do yourself. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, installing a motion sensor light switch is a simple DIY project that almost anyone can do.

Generally speaking, you wire a motion sensor light switch much in the same way as you would a regular single-pole light switch. In basic installations, you will only need to worry about connecting three wires: the Hotwire, the neutral wire, and the ground wire.

What Goes Where

wiring a switch into the wall

As mentioned above, you will see many wires on the rear side of a motion sensor light switch. However, you only need to use three in most applications. When you look on the back of the motion sensor light switch there might be five wires that appear like they should be connected somewhere. These wires include the three basic wires always present in switches, and sometimes two more wires for three-way switching. Those two wires will usually have some sort of label attached to them as well. The two wires glued together are for use in a 3-way switch system, where a single light is controlled by two switches. However, if you'll only be installing a single switch as for this case, even if the switch has the five wires, you don't need to worry about those last two.

It is only the other three wires that you need to be concerned with when installing a motion sensor light switch. The colors of those wires are usually black, green, and red. The black wire will be connected to the black wire that comes out from the switch box. The red wire is connected to the white wire that comes from the switch box, and the green wire is always used as the ground wire. When connecting the ground wire, you will either connect it to a green wire or a bare copper wire. When making connections, always use new wire caps to properly insulate the connections.