Home Kitchen

Vacancy vs. Occupancy Sensors

The most convenient feature of occupancy sensors is their ability to automatically turn on the lights in a room or space when they detect movement within their range. Occupancy sensors are invaluable in outdoor lighting for added security and have many other beneficial uses around the home. Another beneficial attribute of occupancy sensors is their energy efficiency. These low voltage modules can be mounted in the ceiling or in the junction box of your existing wall switch and, in particular, can save significant amounts of energy by turning lights off when no occupancy is detected for a designated period of time.

With so many advantages, it may seem reasonable to replace all the light switches in your home or office with occupancy sensors. However, this may not be the best idea to rush because you will soon realize that in some cases this may be more of an inconvenience than a convenience. You might be wondering how, so a few examples will help clear things up perfectly.

Rooms that are great for occupancy sensors are garages, docks, bathrooms, rec rooms, and sometimes kitchens. In these spaces, it is common for an occupant to enter the space with their hands full, making it difficult to turn on the lights and if they leave the room with their hands full, the same conditions apply. These rooms are also active spaces. The importance of this is that the lights will not go out if you remain relatively still in the space.

One may notice that there are several common rooms that fall off 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 instead of occupancy sensors in these spaces. The difference between a vacancy sensor and an occupancy sensor is the way they light up. Each light switch will detect unoccupancy and turn lights off; however, only the occupancy sensor will turn the lights on automatically.

The benefit of a vacancy sensor is that if you don’t want the lights to come on when you enter an area, they won’t unless you manually turn the switch on. This is handy in bedrooms, so you might not wake anyone sleeping in a bedroom when you walk in, or if you roll over in bed, the lights won’t come on. 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 option for similar reasons. If your light switch controls overhead lighting that might not be what you want when you’re watching TV in a room, the lights won’t turn on when someone walks in or gets up to buy a snack. A special case in common areas where occupancy sensors can be a nuisance is if you have pets. Animals are large enough to turn on occupancy detection switches. If they roam the common areas at night, this can cause unnecessary energy consumption.

As mentioned above, the use of occupancy sensors in kitchens can sometimes be a good idea. This all depends on the location of the kitchen in the floor plan of the house and how other rooms can match the kitchen space. In an open-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 room separate from the rest of the house, an occupancy sensor is an excellent idea, especially if natural light is not present in abundance. Occupancy detection lights will help you see where you’re 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 serve a convenient function as well as bring modern luxury to your space.

Taking everything into account, consumers can make smart decisions when deciding which rooms to install occupancy sensors in and which unoccupied rooms may be most appropriate. Some manufacturers offer occupancy sensing wall switches with an optional feature to turn it into a vacancy sensor. One cannot go wrong with these products, as he or she can decide after installing the switch, which function best suits his or her needs.