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What kind of switch to operate and bypass motion sensor security light? Answered

I would like to be able to manually operate the light for when I need it to stay on continuously, and then have it operate on the motion sensor when I am away from it. Basically I have a motion sensor light mounted above the entrance to my shed/ workshop, and sometimes I need to set up my sawhorses outside of the shop to do work at night and the light is sufficient, but when I have been still too long, perhaps doing some figuring or whatever, it goes out. I don't want to have to continue to wave my hands about to get it to come on every time it goes off. Do I need a double pole single throw switch, or a single pole double throw, or what(is a three way light switch a SPDT- [single pole double throw] switch)? Is there a way to wire it to a single switch where I could flip it over to one side to operate continuously, and then flip the switch to make the light work off of the motion sensor when I have gone in for the night? Please forgive the ignorance. I just can't envision it in my head. Thanks.


This is a wiring diagram for a motion sensor controlled shop light (LED) using a single pole, double throw, 3 position switch. Using this wiring set up you can override the sensor to be off all the time, on all the time or controlled by the motion sensor. The sensor will be live no matter what position the switch is, but you can control the what the light does.

Motion Sensor Controlled LED Wiring Diagram.jpg

3 years ago

Look for spst 2way switch

Maybe we are talking about two different devices/ setups. The motion sensor light that I have is a simple twin head security light with a motion sensor in the middle of the fixture that can be unscrewed, thereby accessing the wiring. I don't understand how the light would operate with the switch "open". How in the world could it operate if the circuit were open? If I were to remove power, then the light will not, and can not be energized. I don't know what kind of fixture you are referring to and I don't mean at all to insult your intelligence, but I'm just having a hard time grasping what you are talking about. The only way I could see that working is to have a constant, non switched hot going to the bulbs, but then that would make no sense because of no way to turn them off. Sorry for my ignorance, and again, I appreciate your time.

Care to tell me how this does not work ?

Is it not like an open switch ?


I was just about to grasp, I think, the idea behind what you were saying with the SPST switch, and now I can't find the picture you had put up showing that. Would you mind putting it back up. I do apologize, I just could not get it in my head, but after studying it for a while,(that's just the way I have to do things unfortunately), I think I get it. I appreciate you taking the time to re-post the image with the single pole switch. I was thinking, and wondering though, would that mean there is no way to turn them off? I just need to see that picture again and we can end our debate. Thanks again.

After thinking about this a while, I believe I understand where we are misunderstanding one another. If I understand you correctly, you are saying the motion sensor is the switch to which you are referring. In that case, I completely agree that the light could not be on with the "switch" open. What I was getting at is to install a switch 'before' the motion sensor. I was thinking a normal 3 way light switch. The hot would go to the common screw, and then one of the other two screws, normally used for 'travelers', would go to the motion sensor, and the the other screw (the other 'side' of the switch) would go directly to the bulbs, not having gone through the motion sensor. I would think that with the switch in one position, the bulbs would only come on by way of the sensor, and flipped the other way, they would be on as long as the switch is on that side. I think it was just a matter of us misunderstanding each other. I was attempting to find a way to have the lights on all the time if I need them to be without having to wave may arms around to get it to come back on if there has been a period of time that I have not moved enough to keep it on. Thank you again.

There really was no need to be sarcastic or rude. I was completely polite and your tone was completely uncalled for. Incidentally, I already figured out what I was after through the help of someone who is apparently more knowledgeable than you. I have tested it and it works just as I wanted it to. Just as I said, SWITCH BEFORE motion sensor, which I did not see in any of the above diagrams. So again, sorry you could not understand what I was needing and that you were unable to convey to and bless me your all knowing intelligence, apparently lacking the all knowing part. Good day sir.

Motion Sensor with 3 way switch-2.JPG

The 3 way ==> SPDT switch in your circuit will work.

You are really determined, to use a 3 way switch, as I was determined to use a ON/off SPST switch in my solution :-)

Apologies for any perceived rudeness.


3 years ago

Single pole single throw across the motion sensor does it.

I appreciate your response, but doesn't that just operate it as normal? Maybe you didn't fully understand what I am attempting. It needs to be either/ or. Either operate by way of the motion sensor and thus requiring motion to turn it on and stay on for preset period, or operate with it on all the time. Thank you anyway.

When the switch is open then the motion sensor operates as you describe DARK UNTIL MOTION THEN LIT for a while then dark.

When the switch is closed the light is always ON..

Is that not what you asked ?

What kind of setup do you have? Is this a motion sensor that screws into the light socket then the bulb(s) screw into it? If so you'll have a heck of a time trying to safely bypass the motion sensor. If it's a motion sensor in line with the power cord going to the light socket you can bypass it with a switch. So the light will either be on all the time or go through the sensor.

It's one of those security lights with two twin spot lights on either side of the motion sensor. The motion sensor can be unscrewed from fixture, thereby accessing wires. I can wire it however I need to, but was just wondering if maybe a 3 way switch might work, whereas the hot would go the the common, and then one side of the three way would go to the motion sensor, and the other side would go directly to the bulbs,(neutral goes straight through), therefore in one position it would operate with the sensor, and flipped the other way, it would be on all the time. Would this work is what I'm trying to find out. Thanks for your input.