Quick and Easy Closet Lighting – MR BEAMS MB981 Wireless & Motion Detection Ceiling Light

This has been one of the most satisfying home improvement projects I have done and probably one of the easiest.

The Problem

A house full of dark closets that aren’t wired for lights.  Bedroom closets are more like dark caves that swallow things only to be found many years later.  Storage closets are piles of, who knows what, because if it’s not on the top of the pile it might as well be gone.

The Solution

Mr. Beams MB981 Battery Powered, Motion Sensor, LED Ceiling Light.

I was in Home Depot one day and saw these Mr. Beams battery powered motion sensor ceiling lights.  I sort of gave up on these types of products years ago after many failed attempts, but something in me decided to buy a few to try out.

That day I bought the 300 lumen Mr. Beams MB990 and the 200 lumen MB981.  I tested them both out in various places and much preferred the lesser MB981 in all situations.  The light of the MB990 was too harsh and didn’t seem to really provide any more useful illumination.

I installed a few in some of the closets, which took about 5 minutes a piece.  Since they were going into closets I wanted them to always turn on when motion was detected regardless of the surrounding light level.   There is a small jumper you remove to disable the light sensor.  Otherwise it might not turn on in the daytime or a well lit room.

My wife and I talked about these damn things for months and how awesome they are.   I obviously bought several more and put them in every closet and our dark entry hall/mud room.

Wicked Awesome!!

  • They provide enough light to make the closets useful.
  • The motion detection works very well.
  • No need to wave your arms around to turn it on.
  • Installs in minutes.
  • Relatively inexpensive at $15-$20 per light.

Wicked Bad

  •  We had 1 bad unit (out of 7) that burned up a set of batteries every couple of weeks.  It was replaced, but at 4 C batteries a pop, we went through about $20 in batteries before finally replacing it.  The others have been fine.
  • Could get expensive with batteries depending on how long they last.  I think if we can get at least a year out of a set of batteries, that would be acceptable.  It takes a big load of C batteries.
  •  They turn off after 20 seconds, regardless of if motion is still going on.  I wish there was constant motion detection.  They shut off too soon in some applications and then you have to do the arm wave to turn it back on.  They would be even better if they could stay one while motion was still active and/or you could change the settings of how long they stay on.  Maybe 20,30,45,60 seconds.  Or even just a 20 second or 45 second switch.

(This is not an Advertisement and I wasn’t paid to write this.  It’s just one of those rare products that brings us silly joy, because it works so well and was so easy.)

Home Depot has them for $15, which is the best price I’ve seen.