garage flood lights

One of the simplest, most effective ways to enhance the safety and security of your home is to add a motion sensor floodlight  to the garage. The dual-lamp model installed here comes on automatically if something—or someone—crosses its field of vision.

If you’re hesitant about working with electricity, don’t worry. We’ve greatly simplified the process by safely tapping into an existing garage circuit and by running the wires through the surface-mounted metal tubing, called conduit. This technique speeds the installation by eliminating the need to blindly pull wires through walls and ceilings.

The floodlight shown here has two lamps and an infrared motion sensor, which automatically turns on the lights if a person or vehicle approaches the garage (they go off after a few minutes). Home electrical projects like this typically require you to connect wires to the main electrical panel and then fish them behind walls, under floors, and above ceilings—not an easy job. However, the wiring for this driveway floodlight is confined to the garage, so you can tap into an existing electrical outlet and then use the easy-to-install surface-mounted metal conduit to run the wiring.

The 1⁄2-inch-diameter conduit, known as EMT (electrical metallic tubing), is sold at home centers and electrical suppliers for about 20 cents a foot. You can also purchase right-angle conduit connectors ($4) and performed curved elbows ($3) that allow you to turn corners with the rigid metal. Master electrician Allen Gallant suggests replacing the two-plug outlet with a combination GFCI receptacle and switch ($22) brought out from the wall with an extension box ($4.50). He prefers to assemble a fixture from separate parts (about $60 total) instead of buying a single unit because that way he’s able to upgrade the quality of the motion sensor.

WARNING: Before starting this project, turn off the electricity to the garage at the main electrical panel. Then test the garage receptacle by plugging in a radio or lamp to confirm that the power is off.

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