May 2008

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That is EXACTLY the kind of post that if I put up on my blog, I wouldn't get a SINGLE comment.

But that's just me.

Cadence Creek Equine Centre, Edmonton

Why mess around turning off lights so anally? Just replace all your bulbs with CFLs. Suddenly there's much more important things to worry about turning off, as lights now use a small portion of the households power. Turn of TVs, computers, etc. Lower the temperature in the fridge and freezer. Buy a better fridge and freezer.

John Reedy

I want to attach lasers to people's eyes so that they can just see in whatever room they are without light. This may however drasticaly impair their vision.


Well, my previous husband had the brilliant idea to put a timer on the waterheater. Problem was every weekend, or any day or night actually, that I needed to do something that was not on that "Schedule" was f%*#ed up because we had no hot water. So I made him stop that crap after about 2 no shower sessions and 3 no dishwashing sessions.


how about those timer-switches sometimes used in staircases... one that shuts of after some minutes or so...

also good for your health, as you have to keep on walking back and forth to the switch..

Volker Hetzer

Already exists.
You can buy (at least in germany) wireless switches with receivers in each lamp or socket and have them coded to respond to individiual, room-wise and house-wise codes via a remote control. of course you can switch off the house and then switch on a single room or lamp. Plug receivers in everything but the fridge and nail two remotes beside your garage and house door (and maybe keep a third one in your car) and you're done.

Lots of Greetings!


I usually do not have the time to read the email responses if they number above 200, so if this story, or a similar thought has been expressed, I apologize.

The problem with motion detectors in light switches is they require motion. That does not seem to be a problem for most of you but let me recount a story.

At a previous company, an energy saving employee determined that money could be saved if the lights in the bathroom were turned off when no one was inside. A motion detector seemed the perfect solution and one was installed. Everything seemed to be working perfectly until the morning after a particularly hazy night of drinking, hot wing eating, ballpark food, and more drinking. After a long discussion with my self involving words like "duty", "unexcused absence" and "dismissal", I drug my hung-over, aching self into the office. After several cups of coffee, nature called and I answered. The "call" took longer than either I or the energy saving employee expected and I was left in a darkened stall to consider the evils of alcohol and working.

As a side note: throwing toilet paper rolls will not set off a light switch motion detector but it will leave you without toilet paper.


Sorry, whole house switch has been invented. I thought I came up with that too.

There is an increase in "design of control" in the market these couple of years. You can now install timer switches like a dimmer to all your lights. You can set the maximum to an hour, so it will be off even when you are not there. You can also force people to leave or take faster shower with these timers. (My dad limit bathroom light to 15 minutes. The switch is outside the door and there is no windows in there either.)

Bill Tkach

Someone already mentioned this, but infrared sensors would work just as well. If positioned correctly, you could have one per room, that turns on as you enter, off, say one minute after you leave.

I'd love this, since my wife seems to think every light in the house needs to be on.

A further benefit is that it would alert your neighbours to intruders in your house when you've asked them to watch the home. If your paranoid, you could combine this with a system that takes a picture of the room when the lights go on, so you can see who was in there.

You just have to make sure it's not so sensitive that your cat or dog can turn it on.

Finally, I think the Pickard lighting system is the best. "Computer - Lights on" followed by "Computer - Cup of Earl Grey Tea, Hot".

Chris Paterson

I love how some folks are suggesting the circuit breaker serves the purpose of the whole-house light switch. I guess they're happy to defrost their freezers every time they leave for work...


One of the best ideas I have seen is the
manual on, automatic off light switch.
You press it to turn it on and off,
but it also shuts itself off after a
set time limit it doesn't detect motion.

Unfortunately wiring for it looks a lot more complicated to install than a standard light switch.


I had that exact same idea about the RFID ring or bracelet myself. I thought about it and decided that PIR sensors work pretty much as well....

wow I'm thinking along the same lines as the mighty Scott Adams... I'll have my very own syndicated cartoon next....


wind up torches!

give everyone in the house one of this each
no batteries...
lights on as needed...
also the fact that one should put in effort to get light will reduce usage... like you implied, people are lazy

but most of all, environmentally friendly..


I wonder how many of the respondents (and maybe you, too) who see the obvious merit of your first sentence inexplicably can't apply the same principal to "Hillarycare" and other proposed government-funded healthcare and health insurance plans.


I dont have any more space on my fingers for more rings :); maybe braclets.


Scott, idea #2 is not as good as the motion sensing switches that already exist. We have some in out office in the conference rooms. I think they use Infra Red sensors to detect motion and switch off the lights if there is no motion.
This idea is better than the RF rings as you can save power even when everyone in the conf room falls asleep :)

Georg Buehler

What I really want is an "on-air" light, like the big red ones in radio studios, that would automatically turn on when I'm on the phone in my study. Anyone who works from home needs this. Since Scott gets the benefit of all the "your invention already exists" posts, I'm hoping someone can enlighten me as well as to who has already invented this device.


How about sharing the electricity bill among all the inhabitants of the house?


Good lightswitch can also be message and give people good thinking during/after enlightment. Like this one:



I think Bill Gates got there first, with the RFID tags anyway:

The write-up at the bottom explains how the system works for visitors too. I like that it controls temperature as well. And I read elsewhere that the TV program you're watching will follow you from room to room. Amazing!

Interesting fact about Bill Gates' house: The number of building permits needed completely overwhelmed the Medina county clerk's office, necessitating the move to a new Linux-based computer infrastructure to deal with the volume.

Oh the irony! Thanks, Wikipedia!


the first one is not an invention... its already implemented in India (Except refridgerators and one light everything else is switched off). The second one may not be feasible due to the cost involved and even if the cost factor is taken care of, not everyone may be interested in wearing a ring or any other piece of ornament for that matter.


Scott, you should check out the HalfBakery.

Switch everything off ideas:

My quick search didn't turn up any RFID lighting ideas but I'm sure they are there.




My company is actually a distributor for products like this. It's home automation, audio, video, security, intercom, and climate control from in-wall keypads.

One of the brands we distribute is Colorado vNet. Completely programmable lighting. Check it out if you're curious. (no it won't track your kids allowances)


Hey Scott - a less personal approach is currently the motion sensor light switch, really best for short-term use or movement oriented areas (such as hallways). A variation on this that might suit your purposes would be a laser system - similar to what many mall stores have to ring a chime when a customer enters.

You'd need two such beams adjacent to each other so that the switch could determine direction, but if you put that on the door to a room, the system could light up when someone enters the room, and only turn off when all the people that enter the room have left the room.

You'd need some alternate settings for having the light off when people are in the room - a la romantic dinner or, more likely, horror movie marathon. You'd also want to link the system, certainly if a room has two doors.

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