Vacancy Vs. Occupancy Sensors
The most convenient feature of occupancy sensors is their ability to automatically turn the lights on in a room or space when they detect movement within their range. Occupancy sensors are very valuable in exterior lighting for added security, and have many other beneficial uses in the home. Another beneficial attribute of occupancy sensors is their energy efficiency. These low voltage modules can be ceiling mounted or mounted in your existing wall switch junction box and can most notably save significant amounts of energy by turning lights off when occupancy is not sensed for a designated amount of time.
With so many advantages, it might not seem too unreasonable to replace all of your home or office’s light switches with occupancy sensors. However, this may not be the best idea to rush into because what you soon might realize is that in some cases this may be more of an inconvenience than a convenience. You may be wondering how, so a few examples will help to clear things up perfectly.
Rooms that are great for occupancy sensors are garages, basements, bathrooms, rec rooms, and sometimes kitchens. In these spaces, it is common for an occupant to walk into the space with their hands full making turning lights on a hassle and if leaving the room with their hands full the same conditions apply. Also these rooms are active spaces. The importance of this is that the lights will not turn off on you if you are remaining relatively still in the space.
One may notice that there are several common rooms left off of this list. These rooms are bedrooms, TV rooms, and if you have pets, other common areas. It may be more practical to install vacancy sensors in place of occupancy sensors in these spaces. The difference between a vacancy sensor and an occupancy sensor is the manner of which they are turned on. Each light switch will detect the lack of occupancy and turn the lights off, however only the occupancy sensor will automatically turn the lights on.
The benefit of a vacancy sensor is that if you don’t want the lights to turn on when you walk into an area, they will not unless you manually turn on the switch. This is practical in bedrooms so you might not wake anyone sleeping in a bedroom when you enter, or if you roll over in bed the lights will not illuminate. The vacancy sensor is especially beneficial from an energy efficiency point of view in children’s bedrooms if they tend to leave the lights on constantly. In TV rooms occupancy sensors may not be the best choice for similar reasons. If your light switch controls overhead lighting that might not be desired when watching TV in a room, the lights will not turn on when someone walks in or if you get up to get a snack. A special case in common areas where occupancy sensors may be a nuisance is if you have pets. Animals are large enough to turn on occupancy sensing switches. If they roam the common areas at night, this may cause unnecessary energy consumption.
As mentioned early, the use of occupancy sensors in kitchens can sometimes be a good idea. This all depends on the placement of the kitchen in the floor plan of the home, and how other rooms may run into the kitchen’s space. In an open floor plan home where the kitchen is considered a common area, a vacancy sensor may be a better idea especially if you have pets. If the kitchen is in its own separate room from the rest of the house, an occupancy sensor is an excellent idea, especially if natural light is not abundantly present. Occupancy sensing lights will help you see where you are going as soon as you walk in with your hands full of groceries. A combination of an occupancy sensor switch controlling LED under cabinet lights will be convenient in function and also provide modern luxury to your space.
With all things considered, consumers can make smart decisions when deciding which rooms to install occupancy sensors and which rooms vacancy sensors may be more appropriate. Some manufacturers offer occupancy sensing wall switches with an optional function to turn it into a vacancy sensor. One cannot go wrong with these products as he or she can decide after they install the switch, which function best suits their needs.