“DIY Home: Flood Sensor Lights Won’t Turn Off?”


Are your sensor lights a little wacky sometimes? I don’t know about you but sometimes it takes a miracle to get them to work right. Often, our lights would stay on and not auto shut off like they should.

I figured out why and thought this might be helpful to others who are thinking “what the heck” when it comes to your sensor lights.

Most lights that have sensors have a sensitivity switch, which can often cause your lights to stay on when something as tiny as a bug flys by.

This wasn’t my case, however. Just thought we would do process of elimination if you’re trying to trouble shoot.

The reason our sensor lights would stay on and not shut off is pretty simple. If you somehow turn the switch off and then on within 3 seconds of each other it triggers an “auto-on” within the electrical and the light actually stays on.

In order to reset the settings so that it’s auto off-on like a good light sensor should be, you need to do one thing: turn off the light switch for AT LEAST 10 seconds before turning it back on. This will reset it so that it can resume its light sensor duties.

Let’s recap: At night, if you accidentally turn the light switch off and then back on real quickly, this usually triggers an auto-on setting that will annoy you and the neighbors. To fix this, turn the light switch OFF for 10 seconds (at least) and then turn it back ON. If its in the daytime when you reset it, it may not go on because of the brightness. I’d recommend waiting to do this at night.

Remember, once you reset it, the light will stay on for a few minutes before turning off.

Hope this helps!



  • Rebecca on May 12, 2012

    It works!!!! we have tried to reset our sensor light for the last 6 years and you have just fixed it YAY! THANK YOU!

    • Modern Day Moms on May 13, 2012

      Yay so glad to hear!

  • Yanny Giuliano on November 17, 2014

    I have the same problem. how do you turn it off for at least 10 seconds? Do you just hold the off button?

  • John B on October 11, 2015

    Mine doesn’t have a light switch it has a off mode on the unit itself. And it only started doing this after one side burned out. I replaced the burnt one. Flipped all the switches and even in bright daylight it stays on. Anyone have a solution for this ?

    • Barbara on August 2, 2016

      Mine did the EXACT Same thing. I have not been able to find a fix. have you???

  • Tan on October 18, 2015

    I switched my sensor light off as the cats triggers the sensor but when I switch the mains back on the light just stayed on. I have tried the 10-15 second on & off method but this does not work

  • Dee on October 21, 2015

    It didn’t work for me either. My sensor only has a Test and Auto function and it controlled by light switch in garage. Any help for this?

  • Diane on February 1, 2016

    If you or your contractor accidentally painted over the light sensor (when you painted your house) it will no longer work. It has an “eye” that can detect when it gets dark outside (lights go on) and when it gets bright outside (lights go off). The sensor is about the size of a deck of cards and is somewhere on the outside of your home. Gently scrape any paint off the “eye”and see if that works. Or, if the sensor is getting up there in age, you can buy a new sensor at the hardware store for about $10 and replace it yourself, assuming you are handy.
    PS – some folks here are describing problems with a MOTION sensor vs. a simple LIGHT sensor. Cats can trigger a MOTION sensor, not a LIGHT sensor – different problems.

  • Stevie on February 17, 2016

    It worked exactly as you said. Problem solved. I accidentally turned the switch off at night when the motion light was on. I turned the switch back on and the light stayed on and would not go off automatically. I did as you said and turned the switch back OFF and left it OFF for more than 10 seconds. The light turned back on and then went to normal mode and turned OFF by timer like it always has done. I went back outside at night again and light came on and then went OFF again just like normal (before). It’s the first time I had ever accidentally turned the switch OFF while the light was on. What a relief. Thank you so much for your help to solve the problem.

  • Murphy on August 23, 2017

    Terrific post! I always knew to reset the breaker but the wait-time eluded me. I was always too impatient. But problem solved now. Thanks!

  • Lee on September 22, 2017

    thank you it worked

  • Tutani on October 2, 2017

    i have a motion sensor light that keeps going on and off, but my problem is the white plastic/screen that covers the sensor cracked due to weather elements i suppose and you can see all the internals. could this be causing the on and off. i put another covering i got from a plastic container that seemed close to the original white cover and it only worked when i literally put my hand some 5cm from the sensor. Is the white screen that covers the sensor some type of special material. dont want to get rid off it as it is still in percfect working order apart from the on an off. Any ideas.

    • Ron on December 9, 2017

      That white plastic cover is actually a fresnel lens. If you look closely at the inside of the plastic you’ll see a series of small grooves. Without it you’ll get no range at all (only inches). With a crack in it, debris may get onto the sensor and cause false triggering. In short that plastic cover is more important than it appears.

  • Adam on December 5, 2017

    So, I gave it another try. Late at night. After this switch off trick failed yet again. I thought I’d give the sensor a clean. So I took a step ladder and wiped the sensor. Light was on or it would have been pitch black. When inside I turned it off for 10 seconds and turned it back on, it didn’t fix but then after another 30 second switch off (over carious) it worked!. So try that.

  • steve on February 27, 2018

    My motion is working (red light flashing when movement detected) but lights don’t come on even when pitch black at night. The lights came on when switched to test mode. Any answers?

  • Annie on July 31, 2018

    These comments are VERY helpful and easy to understand. I’m going to try this ‘fix’ tonight, thanks. p.s. every electrician & or man I have asked has given me a 5-10 explanation, so complicated and none have worked. thanks for this simple explanation!

  • Darryl Levine on August 17, 2018

    I recently installed a new outdoor light fixture to replace an old one. The instructional manual described exactly what you said. I turned off the light for 2 to 3 seconds and the lights stayed on at night as advertised. But there is also a light sensor and it turns the lights off during the day. So far so good. This is what I want. Lights on at night and lights off in the day. But I have discovered that the daylight seems to reset it and next time night rolls around, the light is back to motion sensor mode. So, I need to figure out if this is a feature or a bug.

    To complicate matters, I have another (older) light fixture outside that doesn’t respect the 2 to 3 seconds rules. Through trial and error, I discovered it will stay on only if I turn the lights off for 1 second. Fortunately, this seems to also work for the new light fixture. So, I found the sweet spot. However, that older light fixture doesn’t have a daytime sensor and will stay on all day unless I flip the light switch,

    • Joe S on August 25, 2018

      If you want an outdoor light to stay on at night and off during the day (think it’s called a photoelectric sensor) you can buy a sensor that does that. (Standard ones should be $10.) They screw in between the fixture and the bulb. Unfortunately this does not address whether or not the sensor you are using now works but it may give you a work around. Hope this helps.

      • Andrew Cisek on August 27, 2018

        Thanks for the input!

  • Sheila on January 15, 2019

    I am having the same problem but my lights are connected to a timer in the electrical box. I cannot turn the light off, only the timer so it’s not working. Can anyone help?

  • colin on July 2, 2019

    when your lamp has 3 adjusters on it
    change sensor to PIR with just lux and time the sensor ones are a load of trouble manus know this but improves sales so there happy


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