Is a Motion Sensor Ceiling Light Really Worth It? | Ep. 100

Closeup of hands installing a motion sensor ceiling light
A motion sensor ceiling light is convenient, but it does use phantom power. (©Oduaimages, Adobe Stock Photos)

Having enough storage space is important, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, that’s a problem. A motion sensor ceiling light might be the solution. 

Arthur in Wisconsin has a couple of closets and a pantry without any lights. He’s using a flashlight to find things, but that’s just a fast fix. He wants a permanent solution. 

Advantages of a Motion Sensor Ceiling Light

Automatic, or motion-activated, lights have many advantages ranging from convenience to energy efficiency.  

For instance, installation is easy. If you have attic access and can get power to the closet or pantry, you don’t have to worry about fishing wire down the wall to connect a light switch.

In addition, a motion sensor ceiling light turns on when you enter the room, and off when you leave it. So, no one can forget to turn the light off and run up the utility bill.

If you’re wondering, “Are motion sensor lights worth it,” consider this: motion detectors constantly monitor heat waves to sense moving objects. Since they’re on constant standby, they use phantom power.

However, when used in rooms where there may be brief periods of use and long periods of inactivity, such as a closet, motion sensor lights are a good option to prevent wasted energy if someone forgets to turn off the light.

Alternative Lighting Options

If you don’t want a motion sensor ceiling light, or just want to know all your lighting options, there’s the tried-and-true, hard-wired light switch.

Or you could install a hard-wired in-jamb light, where the door jamb basically is the light switch. It works like a refrigerator door — when you open the door, the light comes on; when you close the door, the light turns off.

Don’t want to install hard-wired lights? No problem. Try battery-powered stick-up lights. These motion sensor lights, which mount to the ceiling or wall, either with adhesive strips or screws, are 16 inches long and get the job done.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for more home improvement tips!


Podcast Highlights

  • [0:00]: Welcome to the first Today’s Homeowner Podcast for 2021
  • [1:56]: How to install lights that turn on when a door opens
  • [7:58]: When is it too cold to paint exterior surfaces?
  • [10:03]: How to reduce a garage door’s noise
  • [13:52]: Best New Product: Werner’s 22-foot, 5-in-1 Multi-Position Ladder
  • [15:00]: The best way to clean quilted blinds
  • [20:57]: How to find the source of moisture in your attic
  • [26:25]: Simple Solution: A trick to hang pictures EXACTLY where you want them
  • [28:34]: Podcast Question of the Week: ridge vent or gable attic vent?

Simple Solutions

Whole-house humidifier tip — Furnace-mounted humidifiers can become clogged with lime and hard-water deposits, which prevent moisture from escaping.
So, before turning on the heat in the fall or winter, remove the humidifier’s filter and soak it in white vinegar mixed with lemon juice for about 30 minutes or so.

If any lime scale remains, try using a commercial lime remover, such as Lime Away or CLR (Calcium-Lime-Rust).
Now, in severe cases, you won’t be able to clean the filter, and you’ll need to replace it. 

Perfect Picture Hanging — Here’s the easiest, most accurate way to hang a framed picture.
Hold the frame against the wall where you’d like to hang it, then draw a small pencil line across the top of the frame and onto the wall at the center of the frame.
Now, turn the frame around and hook your tape measure on the hanging wire. Pull the wire tight and measure the distance to the top of the frame. Let’s say it measures 3 inches.

Now simply measure down 3 inches from the pencil line on the wall and tap in the nail.

Further Reading: How to Hang Pictures Right the First Time

Question of the Week

Q: I have an upstairs bathroom fan and I have it venting to the roof peak right now. The roof shingling has a ridge vent now, or would it be better to run 12 feet or so of tube to vent to the gable attic vent? — William Young, Pennsylvania      

A: Whenever you have an exhaust fan, the shorter the run to the outside, the better. Now, the ridge vent is entirely too small to adequately run ductwork through it.

Instead, run the ductwork straight up through the roof. It’s not that hard to cut a hole in the roof, or you can hire a professional roofer and pay that one-time service call for peace of mind.


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