The other day my loving wife shoved a magazine ad in my face for the new Black & Decker Lights Out Auto Switch. After reading it a couple of times, I lit up my computer and ordered one through Cost is about $50 plus shipping. The in stock delivery was a couple of days at the cheap rate.
It really is easy to install and it works as advertised. It fits well over an existing wall switch with an adapter using the existing cover plate screws.
It Works with CFLs
There is one feature that that just jumped at me as I thought about how it works. Many home use motion detector switches do not work with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Read about my frustration in learning about it the hard way here. Motion Detector Lighting Control Problems
This Black & Decker motion detector switch will work with any kind of light bulb, including CFLs. It does not rely on electric leakage through the light bulb to power the sensor. It physically shuts the existing light switch on or off as needed.
Motion activated sensor automatically turns lights on or off, just like a wired in motion sensor.
Easy to install – no wiring required. It is installed by taking the two cover plate mounting screws out. Adding an adapter plate on top of the wall cover plate and putting the two screws back in. The only hard part is picking the screws up off the floor after dropping them. The switch unit snaps in place on the adapter plate. That is it.
Adjustable timer lets you turn off the lights 1, 5, 15 or 30 minutes after the room is empty. Set it and try it. If the time seems wrong for you, it is easy to reset.
Runs on 3 AA batteries (not included); no need for any electrical connections. Yes, you will have to replace the batteries once in a while. The batteries power the electronics of the motion sensor and power a little motor that moves a spring loaded device that snaps the wall light switch up and down as needed.
The unit has a manual slider switch on the outside face so you can turn the lights on or off passing the motion detector. I suspect the manual switch is needed when the three AA batteries give out. You can manually turn the room lights on to see what your are doing when you change the batteries.
One negative is the bulky appearance, especially when it is used on one switch where there are several mounted together. It fits fine and works fine, it just is very noticeable visually.
The other negative is that it is noisy. The light switch that it is attached to loudly snaps on when it detects motion. Then you hear a buzzing sound as the little motor inside cocks the spring mechanism. Then silence until it snaps off followed by the few second of motor buzzing while it cocks the spring again.
Will it save money?
Let’s say you can buy one for $30 and your next kilowatt of electricity costs about 12 cents. You would need to save 2,500 hours of lights “on” time for a 100-watt bulb to payback the cost. There are 8,760 hours in a year so that is possible. A two-year pay back is more likely, making it a good investment.
If you are using a 23-watt CFL, it will take 11,000 hours of savings to pay back the cost. That is possible in a few years if you have been real lazy about turning off lights. 4 or 5 years to pay back makes it a poor investment.
When you use one, you can feel good about using less electricity if that is a motive for you.
Where can you use it?
It is made for indoor use only so that rules out a few places it could be used.
There is value in increased safety when the lights come on automatically. You will have fewer slips, trips and falls. Avoiding a trip to the emergency room will save you money.
The unique feature of it mounting on an existing switch makes it something a renter can use and then take with them when they move out.
I recommend the Black & Decker Lights Out AutoSwitch model # SW100 for bathroom, laundry room and entryway lights. I would like to use one in the kitchen but my wife says no way.
The other place to use one is where the light switch always seems to be on the wrong side of the room. That is if you have to cross a dark room to turn the lights on. Or, where you have to escape across a room that you just blacked out.
If you have a safety or security need for a motion detector, the energy savings helps to justify the purchase.
Where do you use motion detectors? Does it save you money? Leave a comment to share your experience.