How to Install an Occupancy Sensing Light Switch (Video + Giveaway!)

By: Bruno Aug 16, 2013

Installing an occupancy-sensor switch is a quick, easy job that can make a big difference. This week, I got a chance to try out one of Lutron's Maestro Occupancy Sensing switches in our bathroom. Read on to see how I installed it, and to find out how to enter to win five Maestro switches for your home (a $100 value!). 

First off, do you know what an occupancy sensing switch does? How about a vacancy-sensor? Yeah, I guess I was a little confused at first, too. It's pretty simple: an occupancy sensor turns the lights on when it detects motion in the room, and then turns them off when you leave (with a user-defined delay). With a vacancy sensor, you have to turn the lights on when you enter the room, but they'll turn off automatically after you leave.

(Hey, don't forget to scroll down to the giveaway info at the end!)

I thought an occupancy sensing switch would be perfect for our bathroom. We have two little ones (granted, one of them is still in diapers, so he doesn't use the bathroom much yet), so there are plenty of middle-of-the-night bathroom trips in our family. I also liked the idea of the bathroom lights automatically turning off when the room was empty (no, four-year-olds don't really understand the idea of energy-savings, and unfortunately my daughter is often the answer to the age-old question, "Who left the lights on?").

Actually, Lutron has done some surveying on that very question, and come up with a handy infographic:

The other cool thing about the Maestro switch is that it has an ambient light detection feature, so you can configure it to not turn (automatically) on if there's plenty of daylight in the room. 

Here's a video of my install process. The whole thing took about fifteen minutes (plus 45 minutes of me figuring out how to position the camera so I didn't block the view!)

I started by turning off the power to the bathroom and the breaker box. Guess what? THIS STEP IS REALLY IMPORTANT. 

Once the power was off (and I tested the bathroom outlets using a handy voltage tester that cost all of $3.49), I took off the switchplate cover and removed the old switch (which was also a Lutron Maestro, but not the occupancy sensor kind!).

(If you're wondering, that switch on the left is a Lutron Timer switch for the bath fan. It turns off automatically after a certain amount of time.)

Then I carefully glanced, ahem, I mean, read, the instructions that came with the new switch, and installed it as directed. Fortunately, this was a very easy, single-pole install.

That's it. Pretty simple. Now I can spend the rest of the day walking in and out of the bathroom like a crazy person or a poor maladapted animal at the zoo (see: Stereotypy (non-human)). 


Hey, no need for yelling.

The prize is five Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensing switches.


P.S. - If you don't want to wait to see if you win the contest, get 25% off Maestro occupancy/vacancy sensor dimmers and switches on PLUS one free Claro single-gang wallplate($4.90 suggested list price) with each qualifying item. Just use the promo code: wholeftthelightson

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Thanks everyone! This giveaway is now closed; we'll announce the winner soon!

Ooh - Oooh!! Pick me! Pick ME!! I would put one in all the obvious places; bathroom (so our 16 yr old can continue to live with us because if he leaves that light on ONE MORE TIME......), the hallway from our 11 yr olds room to the bathroom (so we don't have to dip into her college savings to pay our electric bill) and also the crawl space with the switch all the way in the back (can I get an alleluia!). They also would rock in the kitchen and laundry room, no doubt. Pleeeeeeaaaase pick me -- I have longed for this economical, conservative, luxury!!!!

We're about to move into our first house, and would love to have this in the main living space (living room/dining area).


I would use the switches in the bathroom also however my laundry area is in my basement, so my guys always leave the light on when they leave the basement because they have their hands full. Plus I would use it in my upstairs bedroom. My 16yr old son just moved up there and leaves the light on all night while he is sleeping (I think he is scared) until I sneek to turn it off. This product would be a energy "savior" for my house!!!

We would put these in the bathroom, hallway and entry way.  They seem ideal for kids and guests


I'd install one in the basement family room, two in bathrooms, one in the entry and the last one in my son's room who always leaves the lights on.

Closets, Closets, Closets.  This would be great since my little one loves to leave closet lights on.  

Thank you for offering five Maestro switches.  I would be unable to choose which room to NOT install one - great for our bedroom, where one has to walk across a dark room to the nightstands, excellent for the bathroom during nighttime trips, life-saving in the kitchen for those same late night excursions, the living room, the hall...ALL HAIL THE MAESTRO

 I would be over the moon to win occupancy sensing switches. My husband would be relieved that I don't nag him about leaving the lights on night & day :)

This would work great in the hallways when my kids are waking up in the middle of the night or when we come home at night and don't have to tey to find the switch and in the kitchen when I get up for a late night snack! ;)

These would be an asset in any room.  We've spent the last couple of years becoming as energy efficient as possible, and these switches would really help complement that goal. Our utility bills are down significantly. 

We have a living space in our garage for our teenage son. Unfortunately, the light switch is 10 feet away from the door. At night the garage is so dark that you would have to feel your way to the light switch if you didn't carry a flashlight with you. So, guess what happens? I'll give you a hint....a teenage boy that hasn't had to pay any electric bills. The light stays on! Ugh! It would be great to install an occupancy switch in the garage.
My parent's home. My mom recently survived a burly cerebral hemhorrage. She's doing pretty darn good, now but short term memory is shot: forgets to turn lights on AND off. Makes me so nervous. Hate for her to fall in the dark redamaging her brain after coming this far. Didn't know this sorta thing existed. Fabulous & so EZ to install!!!!
My parents home. Mom just survived a cerebral hemhorrage & doing super except for short term memory: forgot where light switch is-- forgot to turn it off, etc. these would such a fabulous help!

bathroom,,, hallway,,basement,, would love them!

i know it says the bathroom seems to be the worst offended room, but in our home, it's the kitchen, for sure ... the laundry room and the family room ... we must have them trained well, no bathroom lights left on -- unless, of course, *someone* (twin boys!) need a light on so they can find the bathroom ... so, yea, we would love to win these five light switches ... thanks for the opportunity to win ..... darlene

Bathroom would be great. My little ones would appreciate it as much as I would!

This guy would go in our laundry room. It is the only room our pets don't frequent.
This guy would go in our laundry room. It is the only room our pets don't frequent.

I'd like to try them in our bathrooms.

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