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What is Sensor Switch? - PartsXP

what is sensor switch

Standard light switches are not exactly hard to use, Most of us depend on them without a thought. But when you are carrying a heavy load from the garage and can't reach the light switch to turn it off or what if you walk into the laundry room with an armload of clothes and can't even see the switch? You have to make a second trip or the light switch just left on. So, you have a chance of using a sensor switch. Have a look at the details on some sensor switch types such as motion and occupancy sensor switches.

Motion Sensor Switches

A motion sensor switch will automatically turn on the lights whenever someone walks into the room. This switch is a relatively simple device and easy to install as well as operate.

Function of motion sensor switches

There are two types of motion sensor switches, i.e., active sensor and passive sensor. Active sensors are also called radar-based that send out waves into the room and wait for the signal to return. If anyone enters the room, the speed of the returning sound waves changes and triggering the switch.

Passive sensors are known as passive infrared sensors or pyroelectric detectors. They detect the body heat of humans or animals. Passive sensors use a photodetector which converts light in the wavelengths into electrical current that triggers an alarm in the minicomputer placed in the detector, then activate the switch. The system ignores slow changes in the room temperature due to sunlight for preventing nuisance switching.

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Motion Sensor Light Switch Installation

First, you should turn off the power. Identify the circuit to the motion sensor switch which you will need to replace. Turn the power off at the circuit breaker.

It's better to place a "do not touch" sign on the outside of the circuit box. So, someone else does not suddenly restore the power to the circuit while you are working.

Test the wires and remove the light switch. Remove the wall plate from the existing light switch and test the wires by using a tester such as an audible alarm tester. Make sure there is no power flowing through the wires which you are removing. If you test with an audible tester and hearing a continuous beep, it indicates that still power is passing. Once the power was off, remove the screws that hold the old one in place.

Now, cut the wires connected to the old switch at the back. There are three wires: a black wire, a white wire, and bare ground. The black and white wires need to be connected to the new motion sensor switch but don't use the ground.

With the old motion light switch removed, strip the plastic insulation off the ends of the black and white wires using a wire stripper.

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Connect the wires to the new motion sensor switch. Wrap the black wire's end around one of the wire connections on the back of the switch. You have to repeat the same step with the white wire. Secure these black and white wires with wire connectors. 

Keep the wires into the back of the switch box. Position the switch into the switch box. And, secure the motion sensor switch with the mounting screws.

Adjust the sensitivity and timing of the light activation. On the motion sensor switch, the bottom will be controlled when the lights come on after someone enters the room. When you have completed the motion sensor switch and adjusted it, you have to reinstall the switch wall plate.

Occupancy Sensor Switch

An occupancy sensor is an indoor motion detecting device that is used to detect the presence of a person to automatically control lights or ventilation systems or temperature. These sensors work with infrared, ultrasonic, or microwave technology. Occupancy sensors are used to save energy and provide automatic control.

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How to Install Occupancy Sensor Switch?

You need to keep ready the screwdriver, wire caps and occupancy sensor switch plate cover while installing the occupancy sensor switch.

Turn off the power at the circuit breaker for the room or outlet where you want to install the sensor. Make sure to confirm that there is no power before starting installation.

Next, you have to remove the switch plate. This switch plate cover with a screwdriver. Unscrew and disconnect the standard switchplate. You should remove wires one by one and paying attention to the existing wire placement.

Now, connect your occupancy sensor to the outlet. You need to attach the green and bare copper wires from the switch plate to the ground wires in the source outlet. Connect the black wires from the switch plate to the black wires in the outlet. You can cap off the remaining wires with wire caps.

Once all wires are connected and capped, push them back into the wall. Screw the occupancy sensor switch plate into place by using a screwdriver. Attach a sensor switchplate cover, if needed. After that, you will need to restore power at the circuit breaker.

Note: Make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully for your occupancy sensor switch model before installing particularly if you are installing on a dual circuit switch.


Here, we have updated the details on the sensor switch for your reference purpose. Hope this article helped you to install motion and occupancy sensor switches installation simply. Stay tuned with us to get more articles on Sensor Switches.

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partsxp logo authorHaritha

Haritha is a Content Writer at PartsXP. She has a great understanding of today's marketing strategies that yield strong results and always happy to create valuable content & share her thoughts.

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