Also referred to as occupancy sensors or presence sensors, motion sensor lighting is a different option for your lighting systems. Though not an obvious home upgrade, transitioning from on-the-wall light switches to motion sensor lighting can provide many benefits to a household spanning from cost to safety to convenience.
How do motion sensors work? Motion sensor lights typically use infrared, microwave, ultrasonic, or photoelectric technology to detect the presence of motion in a field of view. For lighting systems, passive infrared sensors are the most common sensors used, detecting body heat within the specified range.
Many might think of motion sensor lights activating in a driveway to deter possible intruders from entering a home, but why shouldn’t that same precaution be taken inside? Taking this step would provide another level of safety from break ins or robberies. Connecting your motion sensor lights to a home security system would also allow you to be notified if someone enters a space while you are out of the house.
Eliminating the need for a manual light switch will also naturally cut down on usage costs. This rule changes depending on the type of lightbulb you have, but the United States Department of Energy recommends that when using compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, you should turn off the lightbulb if you are leaving the room for more than 15 minutes. For halogen lightning, you should turn off the bulb whenever possible. With the installation of motion sensor lighting, knowing these rules won’t be necessary. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported in 2011 that there is a 24% energy savings potential for occupancy based lighting. Knowing your exact savings would require you to look at how much energy the existing bulbs consume as well as how much you pay for electricity.
Though there are definite cost and safety benefits to motion sensor lights, some simply appreciate the convenience of automatic lighting. If you’ve ever walked through your door at night, hands full of groceries or shopping bags, eliminating the need of flipping your light switch may be appealing. One caution to take with this added convenience is to narrow the detectable range enough that external triggers (cars, passing dogs, etc.) don’t keep any lights on when unnecessary.
If remembering to turn off lights when you leave rooms for hours at a time is difficult for you or you have heightened concerns about neighborhood safety, moving away from the traditional light switch may be the right decision for your home.
Photo by Jack Jose