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.
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.)
The fashion in killing has an insouciant, flirty style this spring,
with the flaunting of well-defined muscle, wrapped in flags.
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...
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
Just buy the standard door peep hole. Cheap and installs in five
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Fluorescent bulbs doesn't change things - they're switches, not
dimmers, and they make them in three way switches. They're not budget
(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.
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
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:
One advantage is you wouldn't have to mess with line voltage wiring and
electrical code stuff to install it.
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...
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
and have some kind of panicky meltdown in front of my co-workers,
but it has never happened (yet).
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.
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.
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.
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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