Black and Decker SW100 Lights Out AutoSwitch Review
Leaving the lights on when no one is in the room is one of the most common ways to waste energy. The Black and Decker SW100 Energy Saver Series Lights Out AutoSwitch can help to take care of this. With all the fuss about “Being Green”; conserving energy is at the top of the list of many homeowners. With this nifty new switch, movement is detected to automatic turn on the lights and then it will shut off after a preset time limit once there is no action.
Some of the most practical energy saving measures someone can do is to turn off the lights when they are not needed. The fact is that many times lights are left on too often, especially in places like bedrooms, hallways, laundry rooms and the garage. The Black and Decker SW100 Lights Out AutoSwitch could be a good solution for some who want to keep the lights off when not needed. While there are dedicated, wired installed occupancy switches, this switch brings all the energy savings and convenience of this type of switch into your home in an easy to install and configurable way. With a two-second installation- OK, maybe it took more like two minutes- it only required a straight blade screwdriver and no wire connections.
All we did was take off the two screws holding on the switch plate so that we can use them to install the back bracket right over the existing switch plate. Next, we aligned the toggle switch with the back of the Lights Out AutoSwitch and simply pushed the AutoSwitch on to the locating pins with tension springs and it stayed securely held into place. Configuring the AutoSwitch was a snap as well. Inside the battery flap are the time limits and sensitivity.
On the side of the unit are the switch on/off position selector and a switch to turn off the motion sensor. The way this switch works is that there is a motorized mechanism that moves the toggle switch beneath. This switch works with most all single pole (meaning a switch that controls the light from only one location) toggle type switches. The AutoSwitch is also narrow enough so that it can be installed in multiple gang switch plates and there is still room to access the other switches.
While this is a nifty product that saves some energy, we are not completely sure it is the most economical way to save money. Being “green” may not actually always save you a lot of “green.” We compiled a quick table to show you what energy cost looks like in a common scenario. Basically, we picked a hall that had a single light bulb and looked at it a few different ways; we added both incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) and the Lights Out Switch thrown into the mix. Here is what we came up with.
Watts used (kWh)
Power Cost $0.15 per kWh
Energy Saver Lights out Switch (20 visits for 1/2 hour each)
Lights on 24 hours
From this chart, we can see that the Lights Out AutoSwitch can truly save you some money, especially if you combine it with a CFL! In our little scenario, we saved nearly half the energy cost across the board when we used the Lights out AutoSwitch. What we found even more interesting was that it only cost 3 cents more to run the same CFL light for a full 24 hours a day without shutting it off verses using it with the Lights out AutoSwitch take control. If we take that into account, and really want to save that 3 cents a day, it will take about three years ($30.00 for the Lights out AutoSwitch divided by .03 per day = 1000 days) to recoup the cost of the Lights out AutoSwitch! Based on our test, this is before you even start saving any money and it does not include any batteries, which you will need to operate the device and may well extend the time before monetary gain another few years.
What we liked about The Black and Decker SW100 Lights Out AutoSwitch is that It is super simple to install and set up, so easy in fact that a Caveman… OK, OK, you get the idea! On a serious side, we’ve had our sample installed in a bathroom for a month now and have never had it malfunction or go through a set of batteries. The one thing we didn’t like was that it was not silent like a wired-in style occupancy sensor switch; there is a small electronic motor sound when the unit is activated. The noise you hear is really the mechanism that physically moves the toggle switch on and off. What we think will be a better application of the Lights Out AutoSwitch is a place where either you’d like to use a timer (i.e. a bathroom exhaust fan) or place where you’d need your hands free, like when carrying your groceries into the house and need a light to come on automatically. For our professional ratting, we gave this a 6/10 because there is a little noise, but it was super easy and quick to install. For our value rating we gave it a 4/10 because while it does offer some benefits, a simple switch to CFL lights might actually save you more money faster, even if you leave the lights on all the time.