Thoughts on why my motion lights keep "blowing out"


Senior Member
I had a X-10 motion light installed by my back door for 3-4 years.  It worked quite well.  The X-10 part did not work, but that doesn't matter too much to me.  It was annoying, but at least it worked like a motion detector.  When I installed the X-10 flood light, I had to re-wire the switch inside.  I use UPB everywhere.  So, I ended up just bypassing the switch and sending power from the breaker outside to the flood light.
I configured it to only turn on with motion at night.  As I said, worked great!
This year, maybe 3 months ago, I ended up pulling the power from the unit.  The reason, it would turn on and stay on.  I could not get it to turn off.  Knowing that these tend to DIE, I had 2 more in the basement.  So, I replaced the unit.  The 3rd night, the same things started to happen.  So, I replaced the unit again, thinking that these are really old.  So, who knows.  This one lasted a week or so.  All units exhibit the same behavior.  So, I had a trip to go on for work.  I pulled the power, screwed everything back on the wall and left.
When I came back, I bought one of these:
I had been looking at them for a while, as my wife and I have a plan to put up 5 - 6 flood lights total.  The price is nice and the cost is nice.  The features are nice as well.  I'll be able to run a bank of UPB switches in the basement to power each of these.  Then, I can leave them on configured for automatic.  They also support the "switch flick" manual override.  So, most of the time, we'll operate them as auto motion detectors.  Then when we have a party or the kids are out playing at night, we can override and keep the lights on.  Nice that with UPB's links, I'll be able to set them all off / on easily.  The other reason for so many, we have a lot of critters that run around the house.  The lights tend to keep them away.  Especially the deer!  Prior to having the motion lights, they came in and ATE one of my saplings I was trying to grow!!  So far, the motion lights seem to keep them at bay.
Well, this one has lasted 3 weeks.  Yesterday, it started to mis-behave the same way.  I tried to manually override, and the unit would not have it. As soon as power was back on, it would trigger.
The only thing that I can think of that MIGHT be causing this, I recently installed a grilling gazebo that is nearby (see pictures).  Maybe it is reflecting?  The roof is a plastic of some kind.  If that IS the reason, I do not understand as it ran for 3 weeks without issue.
I was thinking that maybe the sun - being in direct view of the sensor damaged the electronics? (refer to pictures)
So, I kept the unit de-powered for a few days.  I turned it back on this morning and the unit stayed off.  I'll see what happens tonight.
As the sun looks at the house when setting:

Side view:



Senior Member
I think the light drivers in these inexpensive fixtures can burn out from over use, too many on off cycles in too short a period of time.
The manual override on/off scheme can be finicky as well.
I use the Zenith/Heath Dual Brite lights from Lowe's|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1%26page%3D1&facetInfo=Heath Zenith
I disconencted the direct PIR sensor to light driver.
I control the lights with UPB switches and use the PIR sensors to trigger UPB links via an IO module.
This gives me automatic and manual control.
Details here (and in the post below that one)
I'm sure you could do the same type of thing with the lights you have.


Active Member
In my experience, the types of lights that use a "switch flick" to turn on and stay on are prone to almost any sort of powerline noise or power issues, and often enter that mode with almost no other noticeable power issues.  I've never had good luck hooking those to any kind of powerline switching systems.  Living in a rural area with all kinds of momentary power glitches and my own powerline devices, I avoid those kinds of units now. 


Senior Member
Are you confident that you electric service is in good condition? Just to be sure I would check the voltage at the lamp.