Fiber Optic Spyhole?

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On 8/12/2010 1:58 PM, jeff_wisnia wrote:

This appeals to me more than motion sensors... the lights are fluorescent. The complication is that they've got more than one switch location. I can turn them on from just inside the front door (between the two garage doors), from inside the workshop (next room in) and finally from inside the stairwell behind that door.
The stairwell door is the only place I'd need an indicator light.
Jay
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On 8/12/2010 11:14 AM Jay Hanig spake thus:

Sounds like an interesting experiment. Why don't you get a short piece of fiber-optic cable and just try it? Could experiment just on a piece of wood: drill a hole for the cable, get a couple of small plastic caps (maybe from a craft supply place, jewelry pieces, whatever) and epoxy them onto the cable. Might just work. (Though I suspect it'll have to be fairly dark on the other side of the door for you to be able to see if the light is on or not.)
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On 8/12/2010 2:33 PM, David Nebenzahl wrote:

I had another thought: does anybody make a four way wall switch that would have an indicator light on it that might light when the circuit is hot? Knowing the power is going to the light would be the same as knowing the light was left on.
I've still preferring to steer clear of motion sensors. They always seem to click off in the middle of things. I've used one (for another purpose) in the garage in the last place I lived and wasn't satisfied with it. That one turned on a floodlight within the garage when anybody moved in there but it wasn't suitable for general lighting. I have banks of 8' fluorescent tubes on both sides of my garage as well as in the workshop in the next room. I need to control all of the tubes; not just a single bulb.
The idea is not to leave the lights on when I'm not in the garage. But with the machinery I have within my workshop, it'd be dangerous for the lights to go out during the middle of an operation. Table saw, etc...
Jay
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No, a motion sensor switch does not make sense in a workshop with dangerous tools running. It's important to at least try to ask a question and give sufficient information so you don't waste people's time...including yours.
Just buy the standard door peep hole. Cheap and installs in five minutes.
R
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On 8/12/2010 3:21 PM, RicodJour wrote:

I'm sorry if I've wasted your time. I want to be able to stand at the top of the stairs and see that I've forgotten the garage lights are on, without having to walk down those stairs to see it. If I have to walk downstairs, I don't need a peephole: I can just open the door. I want to know from the top of the stairs.
At night, it's a dark hole looking down into that stairwell unless I either flip on its light or have the garage lit up and that door between them open. So any sort of indicator light would be obvious. I am still pondering some sort of fiber optic device inserted into the door just like a peephole. I can't seem to find a source on the web unless I'm willing to buy a huge supply of it. Plus the fact if such a device already exists, I don't want to reinvent the wheel.
I've even considered a security camera/monitor setup but dismissed it as way too elaborate and expensive. I'm looking for a cheap solution. I find it hard to believe one doesn't exist.
Jay
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Consider an X-10 type of solution. One switch at the top of the stairs can remotely control another using this type of system. For instance, I had several areas in my lower level. For want of a better description, let's call them A, B and C. Each had its own switch. One switch of the same designation. At the top of the stairs, I had a master switch had 4 button, let's call them A, B, C and all. They could remotely control each zone or the final switch could simultaneously control all three zones.
The cost of this isn't that much, installation is a no-brainer and the better quality switches can even have a light for active or dark. With the remote at the head of the stairs, knowing whether the lights somewhere else are on or off doesn't matter that much, though, since hitting On or Off for a zone or all accomplishes it.
The best source I've found for this type of switch is Smarthome.com
Nonny
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You wouldn't be looking through the peephole, you'd be looking at it. A peephole transmits light, right? If the stairwell is flooded in light, you might not see it, but if you don't have the stairwell lights on - you are retiring for the night, right? - then you'll be able to see the light coming through the peephole. If you want to tweak it and make it more unmistakable, then glue a piece of a bike reflector lens over the peephole and it will glow a faint red.
R
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On 8/12/2010 5:27 PM, RicodJour wrote:

I think we have a winner. This does seem to be a lot less trouble than most of the suggestions made, although all are appreciated. I just needed to have some different ideas thrown at me for consideration.
What's the point of having access to the world's greatest repository of knowledge if I won't use it? My Google search was going nowhere.
I am going to visit smarthome before I buy anything though. Who knows? I might see something better there.
But thanks to everybody who took the trouble to answer. You guys are great.
Jay
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Jay Hanig wrote:

But a second (small) light on the same circuit will do as well. I have done that for an attic light, which is invisible down below.
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Jay Hanig wrote:

Any 3-way or 4-way switch can be replaced with a "pilot light" or "illuminated" version. "Illuminated" switches light up when the load is off. "Pilot light" switches light up when the load is on, and a neutral is probably required (not always available at a switch box). In both versions the handle lights up and is not real bright. There needs to be a load (a switched receptacle with no load won't work). May not work with some electronic loads (CFLs?). Incandescent lamps and magnetic ballasts would certainly work. May be the easiest solution.
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Fluorescent bulbs doesn't change things - they're switches, not dimmers, and they make them in three way switches. They're not budget busters. (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Doing the fiber optic thing, or an indicator on the other side of the door will cost you more money and time, and you'll still have to go into the garage to turn off the light.
R
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Jay Hanig wrote:

I'm reading into what you just said that the flourescent fixtures are either all on or all off, but controlled from three different switch locations.
If that's not the case, ignore what's below.
How about picking up a small solar panel, placing it quite near the closest flourescent fixture to the stairwell door and running a low voltage line to a small (flashlight) bulb you can see from the other side of that door?
Here's a panel that might do it for only $12.95:
http://store.sundancesolar.com/minsolpan15v.html
One advantage is you wouldn't have to mess with line voltage wiring and electrical code stuff to install it.
Jeff
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Do you know which of the three switches in your four-way loop is next to the doorway going upstairs ?
You are going to have a feed side where the power comes in, a four way switch in the middle and a load side to your loop... You can switch the lights from additional locations by adding additional four way switches to the middle of the loop...
The "pilot light" needs to be fed from the load side of the loop and requires a neutral connection... You might have to run an additional wire to install such a light if you aren't lucky to have the right end of the loop in the box already in the wall you want to install the pilot light in...
~~ Evan
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wrote:

I'm relieved to know I'm not the only person who does that.
I always have a little concern that I'll forget I put my keys in the fridge and have some kind of panicky meltdown in front of my co-workers, but it has never happened (yet).
Cindy Hamilton
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My Dad did something similar, using the lamp in the garage door opener. Wired to a blue pilot light.
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On 8/12/2010 12:28 PM, Jay Hanig wrote:

Edmund Scientific sells some fiber optic fiber 3' long and I think it's plastic for $12.95 which may do the trick. It can be cut and bundled together for more light transmission.
http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_3053301
TDD
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My solution to a similar, but not identical, problem was to take an old radio and power it through the light socket. Light on, radio plays my favorite station loud enough to hear it upstairs; light off, radio off.
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One fellow I knew, used a motion detector light in the yard, to power a radio in his bedroom. No bulb, just an adaptor, and cord to the radio. So he'd know if someone was in the yard. Clever.
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Many fancy options in this thread, but I think this points to a cheap way. Just extend the light circuit up from the basement to a single (new or existing) fixture in the 2nd floor. If that light is on, the basement light is on. If you just wire an outlet, you can stick something low power like a nightlight that won't waste a lot of power while you're working in the garage.
Henry
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wrote:

Does the garage door have windows? If so, since I'm sure you need the electric light during the day sometimes, it will be hard to tell the daylight from electric light.
But you could connect a bell, like a fire alarm bell, to the light, so that whenever the light was on, the bell would ring.
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