Posts Tagged ‘Indoor Lighting’

The Ultimate Guide to Motion Sensor Lights for Your Home

Motion Sensor Security Light

For all those that love making improvements around the house from DIY projects to full blown remodeling with contractors and the whole nine yards I have written this guide to motion sensor lights for your home. You might be thinking that lighting isn’t a home improvement but it really is and it can make a huge difference in the way your house looks to others and how you get around it at night. Now everyone knows the importance and convenience of lighting and it is so ingrained in our modern lives that most of us don’t give it a second thought and wouldn’t know what to do without it. On the other hand there are those that not only know its importance but take advantage of it by using it for all the things that make lights great, like there beauty, convenience and security. These people utilize all types of lights around their homes that are specially designed for specific purposes and situation. For example accent lights for landscaping, security lights for porches and driveways and night lights for bedroom, bathrooms and hallways. Motion sensor lights also play a big part in making the most of these lighting situations in and around the home and that is where this article is going to help. In it you are going to find just about everything you will ever need to know about motion sensor lights. So hopefully no matter what question you have or what type of light you are looking to buy you can find the information you need here.

What is a Motion Sensor Light and How Does it Work

Motion Actived Door Bell

          A motion sensing light isn’t much different than any other light, other than it has a built in sensor that turns it on when it detects movement. Other common names include motion detecting and motion activated. Typically these types of lights are used for outdoor security purposes around homes and businesses or indoors as night lights or as occupancy sensors or motion sensor light switch for the main light in a specific room. Many of these lights come with several features that allow you to adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensing eye and the amount of time the light will stay on after being activated.
There are several different types of motion sensors and if you look around in your day to day routine you will start to notice all the places that use this technology. For example on garage door openers there are motion sensors that keep the door from closing if there is something in the way, or the automatic doors at stores like Walmart, or even little mom and pop store that have a bell that rings when someone passes through the door. These are two different types of sensors. The automatic door sensors work by sending out a simple form of radar that when blocked activates the door which explains the radar detector in your car seems to goes off for no reason. The ringing door bell works by producing a beam of light that shines across the door opening into a photosensor when the beam is broken the bell goes off. These examples are what are known as active sensors. They produce a type of energy whether it’s light, sound or microwaves that is released into the environment to detect any change.
Now most motion sensing lights use what are known as passive infrared detectors or pyroelectric sensors, PIR for short. These work a little differently than the active sensors. PIR detectors work by monitoring and detecting change in the amount of infrared energy in a given area which dictated by the field of view of the sensor eye. Now when it comes to trying to detect change in the infrared energy you have to be careful. If you set the sensor too sensitive you will be picking up thing like the heating up and cooling off of buildings, sidewalks or any other object that is heated by the sun during the day. So lucky for us the manufacturers of these lights set the sensitivity to a level that only actives the light when it detects a rapid change in infrared energy. And this explains why if you were to walk in front of a motion sensor light which would then be activated and stand there without moving eventually the light would turn off because it not detecting changes in infrared energy “movement”.

Where Do I Use Motion Sensor Lights?

Motion Detecting Porch Light

          This is a great question and the answer is just about any where you want. Some of the most common place were mentioned in the first paragraph but are worth repeating they include outdoors near driveways, sidewalks and on porches all places that people are frequently at after dark plus second as security lights to ward off unwanted visitors whether they are human or an animal pest. Indoors they are used in hallways, bathroom and even on stairs for stairway lighting but this is just the beginning any room in the house could be a good candidate. With all the different styles of lights that are now available there should be something that’s perfect for just about any place you can think of. Really the options are endless other location could be garages, sheds, tree houses for the kids, the back yard for night time activities or in the garden. Just remember the days of having to settle for tacky looking security style lights are long gone many of the new designs look great, like the classic porch light pictured at the right.

Resources for Choosing and Installing Motion Sensor Lights

Motion Senor Light Switch

To keep this article from being a small book I have broken it up into a few smaller articles to make it a little more manageable and easier to follow. The first article is on the Best Indoor Motion Sensor Lights, it gives you some great information on several different types of lights that can be used all over the inside of your home. The next few articles Exterior Motion Detector Lights, Wireless Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights, and Solar Motion detector Lights are all about different types of outdoor lights that you might find useful for a specific area around your home. And then there are the how to videos that can make installing your new lights a breeze even if you are not an electrician they include How to Install a Motion Sensor Light Switch and How to Install Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights.
To continue this project/guide next I will be working on answering some of the most common question people have about motion lights, from how to adjust there sensitivity to replacing the sensors. Hopefully it will be finished soon and I can call this project finished.

Motion Sensor Light Switch–Finding the Right One to Buy

 Finding ways to lower house hold expenses has become a very popular activity in resent years and there are hundreds of different ways to accomplish this. Since your electric bill is probably you highest utility expense it only makes since to try and lower it first. Once all of the basics like insulating and sealing windows and doors you can start using other methods like the use of a motion sensor light switch. These switches can be very effective at conserving electricity especially if you or others in your home have problems remembering to shut off the lights when leaving a room. They are best used in low traffic areas like bathrooms, basement or closets but can be used just about anywhere you want. In this article we will be comparing a variety of different motion sensor light switches and their features so that you feel more educated when you decide to buy.

Which Motion Sensor Light Switch Should I Buy?

Now one of the first things you will notice when you start looking at the motion sensor light switches whether online or in a home improvement store is the wide ranging prices which can be anywhere from $10 to $80 and everywhere in between. There are two reasons for the big price differences one being that some switches are just cheap and poorly made which you want to stay away from for obvious reasons and second is there are different types of switches that have more features. Which bring us to the next point, before running out and buying the first switch you come across you need to know what type of light you will be installing your motion sensing switch to. The reason for this is some switches will only work on incandescent bulbs so if you have florescent bulbs, CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) bulbs or LED bulbs you will have to buy a motion sensor light switch that is designed to work with these types of lights. Another situation that requires a specific type of motion switch is for a light on a 3-way switch. For those that don’t know a 3-way switch is when you have two switches that turn on one light. In this situation you have two options you can either have two motion sensing switches or one normal 3-way and one motion switch. So know what you need before you buy.

Some of the Best Motion Activated Light Switches

So now that you know what type of switch you need let’s take a look at some switches you may be interested in for different situations. Like the Watt Stopper / Legrand RS-250-W-CS light and fan control switch which can be used with any type of bulb incandescent, florescent, CFL’s, Halogens or LED’s plus it can be used in conjunction with a ceiling fan as long as the fan has a 1/6 HP motor or smaller. The Watt Stopper comes in two colors white and ivory has an adjustable delay of one to thirty minutes, has a passive infrared sensor that detects motion at 180 degrees and is recommended for rooms up to 600 square feet.  A number of reviews can be found by clicking the picture as well as more detailed information on this switch.

The Leviton ODS10-ID Decora Wall Switch Occupancy Sensor is another motion switch worth looking at and is a good example of a higher end model. The ODS10 has many great features like being able to be used with any type of light (incandescent, florescent and low voltage), it can work with electronic or magnetic ballasts and has an auto on/off or manual on/off switch plus it will work on as a 3-way switch. It also has many adjustable setting like the field of view which can be adjusted between 32 and 180 degrees of arc covering up to 2100 square feet and the adjustable light sensor that keeps the lights from coming on if there is measurable amount of day light in the room. One other thing that makes this a great choice is the low profile design and the fact that it is actually made for commercial use so you know it durable. Customers on Amazon have rated this switch 4.5 stars out of 5 and give many tips on using it with the best results.

If you’re looking for something on the cheap end of the price scale then the Leviton PR180-1LW Decora 500W Incandescent, 400VA Passive Infrared Wall Switch Occupancy Sensor may be just what you are looking for. The downside to using the cheaper switches is that most are not made to handle anything but incandescent lights but if that’s what you have and plan to use then you shouldn’t have any problems. The PR180 -1LW is a cheaper version of the previous model with many of the same options but without the ability to be adjusted. For example it has a 180 degree field of view but it isn’t adjustable and it only covers 400 square feet but this should be fine for most closets and bathrooms. It also has ambient light sensor so the lights don’t turn on in the daytime but the sensitivity is non-adjustable as well. One feature that is adjustable is the delayed off time which can be adjusted from 15 seconds to 15 fifteen minutes.

Using a motion sensor light switch in your home can have many benefits ranging from saving money to giving you the comfort of knowing you will never have to fumble in the dark to turn a light on when your hands are full. The three products mentioned in this article are but a few examples of what is available (click to see full list). With over 25 different options you are sure to find one that you will love.

*Please note the links above direct to Amazon as I have found they offer the biggest selections and most competitive prices.*