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Powder Room Automation

blafarm

Member
Looking for some advice. This is a tough one.

I have a powder room whose light and fan switches are mounted in a lousy location (guests typically spend too much hunting and groping around for them). I'd like to take the switches completely out of the equation by mounting a sensor so that the light and the fan automatically turn on whenever the door is opened -- and turn off when the individual has left the room.

Optimally, I'd have a sensor that recognized when the door was opened AND a sensor that would determine occupancy -- but that's more wiring and wall destruction (hand-troweled plaster) than I want for this room. On top of that, I'm also looking for a simple and straightforward solution that does not require integration with my M1 (although I will do it if I have to).

I guess those all-in-one, PIR-integrated, motion-activated wall switches might be useful -- but the orientation of my Jbox/switches in the room will not effectively capture the presence of a guest at the doorway -- or while they are occupying the principle area of the powder room. As such, my switch location would also require that the guest enter a dark powder room and close the door with the "leap of faith" knowledge that the light and fan will turn on by themselves (highly unlikely for first-time guests).

I guess a theoretical product that might solve my problem (if it existed) would be an alternate version of a PIR-enabled, motion-activated wall switch BUT where the PIR itself was remotable -- meaning that it could be hardwired to the switch but positioned in a remote location (3-5' away) so I could aim it in a direction that had a better chance of capturing the guest both at the door AND using the powder room. As if that weren't enough, I'd also like the switches to look and function like typical Decora switches -- for situations where the PIR fails to work -- or when the PIR needs to be overrided in order to keep the light or fan on for an extended amount of time.

I'm planning on installing UPB throughout the house and would be open to a UPB-enabled solution. I've thought about using UPB switches for both the light and the fan -- and then using something like Simply Automated's Input/Output Module with a ultra small PIR (like a Visonic SPY3) aimed in the right direction -- but the SA's I/O module needs to be plugged into the wall (which would make for an unsightly installation unless I hire an electrician to provide me with an standard outlet somewhere below in the sink cabinet -- which is also probably not to code), the SPY3 needs 12 volts all by itself, and I'm not sure what kind of additional equipment I'd have to deploy to provide an adequate level of delay to the input of the IO module so that I could avoid undesirable light turn-offs while individuals were still in the room -- but not physically moving for a short amount of time.

Anyone ever heard of anything like this -- or any other solution that might be appropriate?

Thanks for your thoughts
 

Rupp

Senior Member
You need to be really careful automating a guest bathroom. The last thing you want happening is the light going out when the guest is taking their time in the bathroom. The most simple solution would be to install a "remote" switch. There are several X10 solutions. One is the old fashion "stick-a-switch". While these look bad they work in a pinch. I have 2 of these mounted in my garage in an area where there should have been a switch. The other X10 alternative is one of the X10 "remote switches" that SmartHome sells. This allows you to mount a "wireless" switch that looks just like a normal paddle switch. Other alternatives if you want to use motion sensors is the good old EagleEye X10 motion sensor directly controlling the switch and theres also the new Z-Wave motion sensor that's not cheap but is one of the neatest devices I've seen in a while. It has a light sensor, temp sensor, a battery level sensor, as well as a motion sensor. These can also directly control a Z-Wave switch. So as you can see there are several options.
 

Steve

Senior Member
If you have an Elk and UPB but don't want to mess with wires and the plaster I would probably replace the fan and light switch with UPB like you said, then add a wireless receiver to the Elk. Then use a wireless door contact and wireless PIR which you can mount anywhere you want. You then have the flexibility to write smart rules to check for door status and PIR - all like you said. The only negative to the wireless PIR is it is gear more toward security and only 'fires' like once per minute, but that should still be good enough to detect initial entry and additional movement, especially if you have the light timed to not shut off for like 90 seconds after exit anyway. Having the Elk in the mix just gives you alot of flexibility in the programming.
 

Digger

Senior Member
If you have an Elk and UPB but don't want to mess with wires and the plaster I would probably replace the fan and light switch with UPB like you said, then add a wireless receiver to the Elk. Then use a wireless door contact and wireless PIR which you can mount anywhere you want. You then have the flexibility to write smart rules to check for door status and PIR - all like you said. The only negative to the wireless PIR is it is gear more toward security and only 'fires' like once per minute, but that should still be good enough to detect initial entry and additional movement, especially if you have the light timed to not shut off for like 90 seconds after exit anyway. Having the Elk in the mix just gives you alot of flexibility in the programming.

Isnt the wireless PIR mor like 4 or 5 minutes between transmissions? I cant remember for sure but I beleive its much longer than one minute.
 

Madcodger

Active Member
I do something similar to this in our upstairs hallway. People were always leaving the lights on there, and when guests visited and had to get up in the middle of the night, they had to enter a dark hallway. Solution was to have a W800 wireless receiver and simple X10 motion detectors (wireless, battery powered). I connect the W800 to my HomeSeer machine, but it will connect to an M1 as well. The X10 receiver are very reliable in the situation you describe (small room, one entry, no movement unless someone actually there, etc.). I use three in my hallway setup, as the area is a little larger and I want every angle covered for instantly turning on the lights. Set up your Elk rules to stay on as long as motion is detected, then turn off after a few additional minutes. The light may be left on for a bit after the guest exits, but it won't be for long. And as Rupp notes, that's better than having the lights go out unexpectedly.
 

damage

Senior Member
add a magnetic reed switch to the door. turn the light on when motion is detected. if the door is closed while there is motion in the powder room, leave the light on. after the door is opened and motion isn't detected for a period of time, turn it off. that's how our guest bathroom is set up.
 

Steve

Senior Member
If you have an Elk and UPB but don't want to mess with wires and the plaster I would probably replace the fan and light switch with UPB like you said, then add a wireless receiver to the Elk. Then use a wireless door contact and wireless PIR which you can mount anywhere you want. You then have the flexibility to write smart rules to check for door status and PIR - all like you said. The only negative to the wireless PIR is it is gear more toward security and only 'fires' like once per minute, but that should still be good enough to detect initial entry and additional movement, especially if you have the light timed to not shut off for like 90 seconds after exit anyway. Having the Elk in the mix just gives you alot of flexibility in the programming.

Isnt the wireless PIR mor like 4 or 5 minutes between transmissions? I cant remember for sure but I beleive its much longer than one minute.
Yea, sorry to not be accurate, I should have looked it up first. But the truth is I'll split the difference with you - it's actually 3 minutes for the Caddx PIR.
 

JohnWPB

Active Member
Admittedly, you will need a rock solid solution for this to work, but it has worked well for me.

I have 3 X10 Motion sensors in the bathroom. One in the shower hidden under a soap caddy, one under the vanity on the molding facing the door, and one on the other side of the vanity facing the comode and rest of the floor area. This way it is very unobtrusive to the decor, as you would need to crawl on the floor to see the sensors :blink:

None of them are set to the code for the actual light, and is handled by the Home Seer server. This way, when one sensor does not see motion, it does not send the off command to the light! When Home Seer see's motion on any of the 3 sensors, it will turn the lights on. Any motion on any of the sensors send a signal to Home Seer that there is still someone in there. The only way the lights will turn off in that room, is scripted, that when no motion has been received for 5 minutes, by any of the sensors, will it then send the off command.

The nice thing is that the switch can still be turned off manually at the switch itself when leaving the bathroom, and if the system is down, or not getting the signal (God knows X10 is not 100%), the light switch functions normally for turning the lights in the room on.

It took a lot of testing, time, trial and error when trying to automate a light successfully, and in this case it has been rock solid. I have found that closets and bathroom's are the only real feasible rooms that can be successfully automated when it comes to lighting. Sitting still watching TV for instance, Reading a book in the den, or standing motionless enough at the stove stirring something that the sensor does not see, I can guarantee that the lights are gonna go out on ya. In each case you have to do the whole flailing of the arms in the air, that I know everyone that is reading this post, has had to do at some point or another :)
 

Event5

Active Member
I'm planning on installing UPB throughout the house and would be open to a UPB-enabled solution.

On top of that, I'm also looking for a simple and straightforward solution that does not require integration with my M1 (although I will do it if I have to).
For a solution that does not require integration with a PC, you could use the EagleEye X10 motion sensors as discribed above but use a UPB 572 RF receiver.
Here

It can receive the commands from the EagleEyes and send UPB links. The switches could be turned on or off manualy or triggered on by motion.

Dave
 

ver0776

Active Member
I second the importance of a door switch. Turn the light on with motion, and once the door is closed, you can turn on fans, music etc. As long as the door is closed, the system is not allowed to turn anything off in there. Doing this eliminates the need for constant motion detection. Without a door sensor, I just wouldn't even try. Sitting on the toilet or staring in the mirror for long periods will fool motion detectors and if you compensate, then the light takes too long to turn off.

My guest bathroom sees a lot of use by a lot of people with different habits and tolerences and since the door was added approval went to almost 100%. The only exception is when you are the only persone here and use the bathroom without closing the door, but that does not affect guests...

Vaughn
 

Event5

Active Member
I am working on a possible solution using the new SA switches with built in timers Here and Here in conjunction with a umi Here that can be used with some sort of door switch as suggested above.

Dave
 

Event5

Active Member
My guest bathroom sees a lot of use by a lot of people with different habits and tolerences and since the door was added approval went to almost 100%

Vaughn,

Is the door ever left closed with no one inside and would this result in the light staying on until someone opens the door?

Dave
 

gregoryx

Active Member
I did this sort of thing with X10 stuff at one point - I still have the W800RF, but now it's connected to the Elk - but I use hard-wired and/or wireless sensors with the Elk and Elk/Insteon for the lights. Clearly, the lighting protocol is irrelevant.

I don't have the loo done (though the kids bathroom is on the list to do - to turn the lights OFF, of course), my garage uses door sensors on three doors (firewall, garage roll-up, and outside-entry) and a hard-wired delay-configured ceiling-mount PIR. It took a while to tune in the Elk rules, but it works fantastic and the final solution puts a delay-value right into the Elk panel config, so I can tune the light-off very easily if there's some situation that requires me to lengthen it or shorten it.

If you decide to go the Elk route, I'd be happy to share the code.
 

ver0776

Active Member
Vaughn,

Is the door ever left closed with no one inside and would this result in the light staying on until someone opens the door?

Dave

I never close the door with no one in there, but here is how my setup works for all rooms:

Every room has an occupancy status.

When occupied is set to yes, it triggers occupancy commands like turn the light on, etc.

Once occupancy is set to yes, motion and other events only update the Last_Occupied timestamp and will not trigger the occupancy commands again.

So if you went in the bathroom, the light comes on, if you turn it off, motion will not turn it back on because the room occupied event will not occur again until the room goes vacant first. So if you are going to leave the bathroom and close the door, you just have to turn off the lights and music manually first and they will stay off. If you left with the lights on and closed the door, they would stay on. I guess I could modify the rule to use a longer time, like 20 minutes even if the door is closed. That is a better idea, I just have not had the need, but it only makes since... never is a long time to not turn a light off =)

Vaughn
 

mcascio

Active Member
blafarm,

I don't know the layout of your room and where the switches are relative to your door, but have you looked at the commercial Leviton Commercial grade Occupancy sensor and light switch?
http://www.smarthome.com/2520W.html

The cheaper ones at Menard's and Home Depot have a smaller PIR range. The Leviton commercial support 180 degrees.

Fortunately when I built 3 years ago, I planned the placement of switches in all bathrooms and closets with this in mind. The lights go on immediately when someone enters the room and go off after a specified amount of time. These have a big WAF especially in our laundry room when carrying in a full load of clothes.

If you're going through he trouble of wiring for door sensors and occupancy sensors, i would think it would be easier just to move your light switch to a more suitable position.

I do use corner mounted occupancy sensors in rooms to turn lights off after a specified amount of time and turn exterior garage lights on when the garage door opens after dark, but I don't think I'd want it in a mission critical room like a powder room if I could avoid it.
 
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