Use motion sensors to control your lights

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I wanted to use a motion sensor to control the lights in my front yard, but most the the X10 enabled motion sensors I found were wireless and ran on batteries (except for the motion sensitive floodlights which required their own junction box). I also wanted a system that I could set up and not worry about. Even though the battery life in my motion sensor was 11 months, it was a real drag to monitor and change batteries in the sensor. The solution was a solar powered X10 motion sensor, and I looked and looked, but could not find one available for purchase. I did, however, come across a site with very simple design plans for modufying an existing sensor for solar power.

X10 Motion sensors are readily available from, and I suggest getting them as part of a package, either as multiple detectors, or as they are often thrown is as a free bonus with other packages from If you will be using the detector outside, you want the ActiveEye outdoor sensor (MS16A). If they will be used indoors, you can use any of the indoor or outdoor sensors like the HwakEye (MS13A) or EagleEye (MS14A), or the ActiveEye (MS16A).

    To be useful for controlling other devices, you will need a control module (described elswhere on this site) for the device to be controlled, plus a wireless transciever to receive the radio signal and transmit it on your powerline. This can be either a TM751, PAT01, or RR501 (included with the Active Home CM11A starter kit).

As shipped, the X10 motion sensors require 2 aaa batteries, which will need to be periodically replaced. If the sensor will be in a location that gets some amount of direct sunlight, you can replace the batteries with rechargeable batteries and modify the sensor to add a small solar panel to recharge the battery from sunlight. The cost of this modification will be around $15, but it will save you the time and expense of regularly replacing the batteries in the detector.

I did not design this modification myself, and in order to give credit where it is due, I am providing a link to Chuck Coelman's page on the Solar HawkEye where you can find details. In his tutorial, he modifies a HawkEye sensors (an indoor detector), but the same modification applies to the ActiveEye as well.

About this site:

This site is intended to bring together in one place, information and links that are useful to those adding technology to their homes. I am a new user of these technologies, and ask for help from anyone that can correct any information I might post, or who has additional links or resources to suggest.