Add a motion sensing switch to your home

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Kirk Smith:
Hello, it’s Kirk Smith again, with EZ Breezy Home Buyers, standing here in one of the homes that we’re currently rehabbing. Just wanted to share just a little video on kind of a unique solution that we did in this home for a three-way switch and a light to light up the stairwell. So let me just kind of show what we’re talking about here.

All right. So this is the situation. We have a stairway right here that goes one step down and then up into the master bedroom, which is above a lower room, which is the converted garage, which is those steps that go down. And here’s the challenge that we had. There is a switch right here that operates a light on the other side of this wall, right up here on the other side, a scotch style light. And that was the only switch in the house, or only switch in this area, and the only light in this area.

So going in from this side were great. You could turn on the switch and you had light. But coming down from the master bedroom, there was no light switch. Or coming up from the basement, there’d be no switch either. So you’d have to walk clear around this wall to turn on that light. And in the middle of the night, that of course would be dangerous. One option that we had would be to put a switch at the bottom of these stairs and another switch at the top over there. 4-way switches, if you will. And then put a couple of lights in here, maybe one up under here, and one up under there in front of us. But that’s a lot of wiring, a lot of cutting out of walls.

So we come up with a more creative solution. Just kind of want to show everybody. So basically we used a motion sensor. So when we walk into this area, that light just popped on. So that’s where the scotch light will go. There means it will shine down these stairs. It will also shine down into this area and shine up into here. We’ve tested it. Coming out of the master bedroom will activate it, coming up from the basement area will activate it, all from that motion sensor. And then this is also a switch. So from here, you can turn the light on and off, but it also has a motion sensing switch. So anytime somebody walks through this area, that light pops on, creates light for this area, and you can set it for any amount of time you’d like. I’ve got it set for one minute. So after one minute it just shuts back off.

So that’s what we did. Let me show you quickly how we wired it. So this was a single pole switch originally, just a simple on-off switch. And we wanted to add this to the other side and having control from this side as well. So we had to change this, or change this whole arrangement to a three-way switch setup so that you could turn that same light on and off from two different switches. So we did that. Then when we bought the motion sensor, we also made sure that it was a three-way switch. And then we took some 14-3 wire and simply cut the hole here for the box. We were able to reach in, remove the existing wire that went between the box on the other side and this light fixture, and then replace that with a piece of 14-3 with a hot wire and two traveler wires, which is what you need to go between two three-way switches, and then ran a 14-2 on up to the light switch.

And so then you have simply two three-way switches here that you can use. And that works fine, except that the way the motion switcher works is a little bit different. So it’s kind of interesting, and this is all in the instructions if you were to hook one of these up. So it’ll explain this in detail. But I kind of want to show it to you as well. When you use the three-way switch, the other three-way switch, the manual three-way switch, has to be rewired, and it’s actually rewired to a single pole switch. So in other words, this is your hot wire coming in down here at the bottom. So this is your line wire. And then normally you’ve got two traveler wires, a red and a black, that come off up here and then runs up to the other three-way switch and then on up to the light.

Well, in order for the motion sensor switch to work, you actually remove this traveler wire over here, and it gets junctioned with the live wire. And it’s hard of see, I know. But the motion sensor switch actually comes with this little yellow wire that you see right here. And that yellow wire connects to the line wire and the line wire that’s coming in gets wire nutted to this traveler wire. So they come together. So you really turn this into a single pole switch, for those of you who understand how double pole switches or three-way switches work. You really turn it into a single pole switch.

So you could theoretically have left the original single pole switch in there, wired it this way, and it would still work from both sides. Because essentially, when you flip the switch, I don’t know if you can hear this or not, there’ll be a click. Hear that click? So really all you’re doing is this energizes that switch and causes it to toggle when you do it from this side. So you really only need an off-on switch here.

We went in and or changed it to a three-way because technically a three-way switch would not say off and on, because off can be off and on can be on in any position. So really you should change it out anyway just so that it’s obvious from looking at it that it is a three-way switch, and there’ll be another switch somewhere else to control that light. But you’re really wiring into the single pole switch. Again, if that doesn’t make any sense, you’ll see it in the instructions.

There’s a few other things they also specify when it comes to installing this particular switch. This particular switch wires up like a three-way switch as well. But you’ve actually got five wires coming off. You’ve got a white wire, you’ve got a wire that is your load or line wire, depending on whether it’s the first switch or the second switch in the daisy chain. And two traveler wires, and then also your ground. So really five wires coming off the back of this.

If there is a white wire, and in this case there was, then the white wire goes to the white wire. If there is no white wire, and that would be the case if your second three-way switch is, say, coming off of the light fixture itself, then you would have nothing over there but the three wires and the ground off of the 14-3 wire. So in some cases with a three-way switch, there is no white wire.

If you’re retrofitting it into a place where there is no white wire, then the white wire connects to the ground wire and they both connect to the ground. So you use the white wire if there is one. If you don’t, it connects with the ground to the ground. And the reason that white wire’s there is this switch is pulling power from the circuit to power the internal workings of this motion sensor.

And then everything else wires pretty much the same. You’ve got your common wire, which, in this case, the common wire or the load wire goes up to the light. And then, of course, the light comes down and ties into the white wire as well. And then you’ve got your two traveler wires, and that allows everything to work. And again, if you’ve wired a three-way switch, that all makes sense. If you haven’t, read the instructions carefully. It’s really not as complicated as it sounds. But it’s really cool when it’s done. So again, once we leave this area, within a minute that light goes out, and every time we walk through it, it now pops back on.

So that’s just a creative way to solve an issue if you have a place where running additional three-way switches is not convenient or requires a lot more effort or destruction or removal of drywall. Think about motion sensing switches. It’s something that you’re seeing a lot more of used in commercial applications and bathrooms and so forth. And now you’re starting to see them in homes as well. There are times when a simple motion switch in a room will replace the need for a lot of switches on the wall that are hardwired and still give you the ability to have light when you walk into a room. So just something to think about. Wanted to kind of share that video with you, show you how we solved this problem. Kind of give you an idea how it was wired, how it worked.

So this is Kirk Smith with EZ Breezy Home Buyers. If you have a home to sell, you can always go to our website, which will be in the description of this video, or give us a call. We look forward to talking to you about your home. Buy home in any condition. Buy fast, pay cash, close quickly, all those things. So we look forward to talking to you soon. Thank you.

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