Design & DIY

3 simple switches that will change your life

Light switch

This article was originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of Cottage Life magazine. 

1. Anywhere switch

A light that was once turned off and on by only one switch can be controlled by an extra, “anywhere” switch (about $40). The new switch communicates by radio signal with a controller at the original switch. It’s like adding a three-way switch but with no rewiring.

Where: In spaces with two entrances, such as stairwells, garages, or decks; or next to a bed, so you can turn the light on without getting up—or clapping.

Why: Convenience. As in, it’s not convenient to trip over the rug next to the bed or fall down the stairs because the light is off.

2. Humidity-sensing switch

A sensor turns on an exhaust fan when the moisture level is high and turns it off when the room is moisture free.

Where: An exhaust fan and humidity-sensing switch (about $40) are obviously helpful for bathrooms with a shower and a family that forgets to run the fan, but consider the same combo in a crawl space that’s occasionally damp.

Why: The fan helps prevent mould, while the switch saves power when the fan’s not needed. No more accidentally leaving it on all week.

3. Motion-sensing switch

There are two kinds ($20–$30 each): Occupancy-sensing switches turn on when they detect movement and off when they don’t; vacancy sensors must be switched on manually, but they turn off automatically when no one’s there.

Where: Entrances—where your hands are often full—or places where you can’t always reach the switch, such as a dim boathouse when you drive the boat in (bonus: The dock spiders know you’re coming).

Why: Avoid trip-and-fall accidents. Low-cost way to save money, add light automation, and control light pollution.

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