We were in our new home for a few months when I realized the light in the laundry room was really annoying. While unpacking and carrying items to be stored in the garage meant more frequent trips for a while, it's also the path I take when leaving the house as my car is in the garage for the first time ever. That's when I realized a motion sensor light switch was the answer to my dilemma, as it's important to me to save energy and water whenever possible.
Installing this particular motion sensor light switch was a little trickier because it was a 3-way switch, so you could turn the light on (and hopefully off) at the door leading to the laundry room (where I was standing to take this photo) … and the door from the laundry room to the garage (seen in photo). We were fortunate that our handyman was able to find a solution, although my recommendation for most homeowners is to put this on the list for your electrician.
Here's why I love this simple, effective and relatively old fashion gadget compared to today's home electronics.
- When doing laundry, there are lots of trips back and forth. Now there's no need to worry about checking to make sure the lights are off.
- When leaving the house, it's a challenge juggling things. Now there's no need to return to the laundry room after putting things in the car, just to turn the light off.
- When coming home with my backpack, water bottle and whatever I collected while out, there's no need to go back to the laundry room to turn the light off.
- Peace of mind that I don't have to follow other family members around, and turn the lights off for them … and this is huge if you're constantly reminded when you wall past the door.
Best Locations for a Motion Sensor Light Switch
The first motion sensor light I can remember using was on our garage, at the end of a long driveway … on a street with no street lights. We loved living in the woods, and recognized safety was critical as we moved in when my boys were little, a newborn and 4 year old Jason had to navigate on his own when my hands were full.
Today there are many more gadgets to make our lives easier. You might not be able to wire your home to control all your lighting from your smart phone. (Read: Home Automation Changing How We Live) But why worry about the lights if you can put a few problematic lights on a motion sensor light switch.
Here are ideas for this great device, that I found on the web and my other motion sensor switch is in the master closet.
- Closets and especially bigger, walk-in closets which are gaining popularity in the master bedroom. With bigger closets, we're spending more time there and the convenience of not having to turn the lights on or off, is really nice.
- Bathrooms are a great location for motion sensor light switches for several reasons. You don't have to worry about fumbling in the dark, when you head to the bathroom. There's also the safety factor – you don't have to worry about drying your hands thoroughly before turning the light off.
- Laundry rooms – can require many trips as you gather dirty laundry, switch clothes to the dryer and carrying loads of laundry to the bedrooms. With your hands full, lights that go on and off automatically make a lot of sense.
- Kitchen pantries – need lighting when you're searching for things. When you're rushing or have messy hands, not having to deal with light switches can be welcome.
Features that Make a Motion Sensor Light Switch Even Better
For those considering an investment in one or more motion sensor light switches, here are some features to consider before you go shopping. You'll find a few choices at your local building supply stores, or find more choices online at a site like Amazon.
- Motion detection with a hard switch – means your lights will come on automatically, and then you can hit the switch to keep the light on indefinitely. You then need to turn the switch back to automatic, to once again operate automatically.
- Adjustable timer for your switch – lets you pick the length of time to keep the lights on. That means you can set your bathroom lights to turn off after 15 minutes, instead of the original products with short, not adjustable timing systems.
- Combination motion detector and dimmer – is important for night time lighting, when you don't want to overwhelm sleepy eyes with bright lights.
Saving Energy and Saving Money
So the teaser was helping you decide if investing in a motion sensor light switch would save you money. It's an important question although the cost of these devices is relatively low It's not like you're going to install ten or 20 of these, but rather a handful – I've installed two of them, based on convenience versus cost savings.
There are a number of factors that go into calculating the savings you can expect from one or more of these gadgets. These include the following, and for more details you'll want to read the article Does a Motion-Activated Light Switch Save Money. The key here is you need to
- How many light fixtures will the motion sensor light switch control?
- Cost of electricity where you live? You can find this on your electric bill or get your state's average “residential” electricity price on this US Energy Information website.
- Annual watts used by your light bulbs, as CFL and LED light bulbs by themselves save you money.