Odd Friday Thought

I have an automated light in my guest bathroom.  Someone walks in, it turns on immediately.  When someone walks out the light stays on for about 4 minutes before it goes off.

For some reason, the light freaks everyone out.  There are sinks that turn on without being touched, toilets that flush hands free when you walk away, and even toilet paper dispensers that roll out (a somewhat limited) amount of tissue when you need it.

Most people adjust to it coming on, but when they exit the bathroom they usually tell me, “man, I tried to shut the light off, but I couldn’t”.  Then I explain it’s all automated, blah, blah.  And they ask, “If it comes on as soon as I walk in, why doesn’t it shut off as soon as I leave”?

This is almost always what they ask.  I explain there are a couple reasons – I don’t want it shutting off on them while they are still in there (it detects movement – but if your “movement” take a long time, the light could just figure you left, and shut itself off).  I also noted that when I have people over, when one person goes to the restroom it starts a dominoes effect.  Usually 3-4 people follow in short order.  So it’s cheaper to keep the light on the extra four minutes than to keep turning it on and off.

It sucks that homes aren’t more automated.  It sucks that it is so rare it still freaks people out.  Even tech people.

The switch costs about $25.00 and replaces your current switch.  Isn’t there a room in your house that always seems to have the light left on?


  1. @Paul – I have a Plasma TV with a defined life life cycle – It’s off if I am not watching it – I’ve never been one for leaving TV’s on — but I know what you mean about Tv’s here – my friends seem to have them on in every room, even if they are entertaining in the back yard.

    As for the PC’s – they are all laptops but one – and it goes to deep sleep after two hours – no HD, no monitor, etc. Laptops go to sleep even sooner.

    My biggest waste is in my home heating/cooling system – and they come out next Tuesday to give me a quote on modern ductwork and a new furnace.

    @Kaylyn – the switches are available in any large hardware store. Just ask someone in the electrical department

  2. I’m not sure the last time my pc was turned off…
    I think this switch sounds like a great idea! Can I get one at my local Lowe’s or Home Depot? I am forever leaving my basement light on.

  3. Rob, here’s a “green” question for ya!
    With all your electronic gadgets .. do you turn them all off when you don’t use them?
    Your TV: how often is that thing on while nobody’s watching it? (This is one of the first thing that caught my attention when I first came to the US .. TV sets are being used here as … I dunno .. always-on accent lights or something). “back home”, if there was nothing on, we’d turn it off… what I see here is that people, at most, press the mute button!
    How about your non-server PC’s? Do you really turn them all off at night?

  4. @Deannie – yep. On the web. The whole world saw it. Or maybe just the small fraction of the web that stop by here.

    @Rick – Look at X-10 modules. You can control every light and outlet in your house (with a remote even)!

  5. I do like that light Rob. It did “trip me out” the first several times. But it isn’t easy breaking a habit that you’ve done almost all your life, and that’s turning the light on and off. I need one of those for every electronic item in my kids rooms. Would beat going in and turning them off at 2 in the morning.

  6. Am I writing this on the world wide web? I am afraid of the dark so I have night lights in possibly every location in my condo. Yes, this is a great idea.