Motion Sensor Installation

Motion Sensor Installation

The basic idea for my project is to see if it is feasible to install motion sensor lights into the Smith (East and West Wings), Bashford and Thompson dormitories. Currently only Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch Halls have installed motion sensor lights within the past ten years. With the installation, these lights have decreased the cost of electricity significantly than just using the LED lights that are always on. Smith Halls have five floors each with twenty-four hour lights on, making this dorm one of the least electrically efficient buildings on our campus. The first step is to analyze the buildings without the motion sensors. To do this, I would have to require floor plans from Buildings and Grounds to map out all of the lights within each building. The next step is to set up a meeting with the head of Electricity at Buildings and Grounds, Gregg Blume, to get an estimate on the cost of lights, removal of current LED lights, installation of motion sensor lights and duration of the whole process. With this meeting, I will be able to get an estimate on how efficient this process will be for the long-term costs instead of keeping the twenty-four-hour lights on constantly. The purpose of this project is to maximize efficiency with motion sensor lights and reduce our carbon footprint on the residential side of the Ohio Wesleyan University campus in the future. Unfortunately, due to the lack of records of the Buildings and Grounds department of before and after the installation of motion sensor lights, I was not able to move my project forward. Instead, I researched how feasible it would be to install the motion sensor lights in the future.

Methods and Results:

What I did to get started on this project is research the environmental impacts of the motion sensing lights. Some dorms in our school already have motion sensing lights such as Stuyvesant, Hayes, and Welch. Although buildings such as Thomson Hall, Smith West and Smith East are eligible to have lights replaced with motion sensors, our school currently does not have enough funding. Once funding is available for these dorms (including the Bashford and Thomson dormitories), it is a very cost efficient approach to have motion sensor lights installed. In the long run, these lights will reduce our carbon footprint on the residential side of our campus. Switching to motion sensor lights costs about $0.22 a month which is the equivalent to the energy cost of leaving a single 60 watt light bulb on for 33 hours. I researched online to find that the average price per unit ranged from as low $30 to around $85. Because of the disparity in pricing, I am reluctant to provide a full cost-benefit analysis. To get information regarding the motion detection lighting systems that would be potentially in place, universities that already have motion sensors or local companies that produce and install motion sensing lights would have to be contacted. Unfortunately, the Buildings and Grounds department did not keep efficient records and therefore I was not able to see the difference in efficiency with and without the motion sensor lights in Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch halls. This is the reason why it would be necessary to get information from other universities or the companies.

There are both pros and cons to installing motion sensor lights. The cons to this are that the lights can sometimes be falsely triggered or not turn on when there is motion. These lights can also be hard to turn off in lockdowns and have specific light bulbs that would work with them. A big worry is that the lights may pose a fire hazard. Some pros about motion sensing lights is that it makes walking into rooms more convenient and if positioned carefully, the motion sensor can detect the slightest movement. Also, the lights are affordable and give the campus a modern feeling. The motion sensor lights can also be switched over to manual controls if needed. Most importantly, it conserves more electricity than buildings without the motion sensors, lowering the cost of electricity for the school and saving the school money in the long term.

Another important asset to installing motion sensor lights is the impact that it has on the students. A psychological study was done at Oberlin College to observe how dormitory residents reduce electricity consumption when exposed to real-time visual feedback and incentives, which then encourages students to conserve resources and to ‘think green’. What was found from the study was that when the students were given an incentive to conserve the resources and saw real-time feedback of their efforts they found themselves more inclined to conserve energy instead of wasting it. Post-survey, the students reported that they would continue their conservation practices that they developed during the study. If motion lights are installed by the university, it shows that the school cares about the environment and is actively trying to reduce its carbon footprint which in turn can be seen as an incentive and lead students to thinking greener and conserving energy as well. If the data for the impact the lights were making were shown in real-time and students had access to it, it can also be more of an incentive to conserve energy and reduce the campus’ carbon footprint.

Getting this project going was difficult on my end because OWU did not previously keep records about the electricity in Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch halls before and after the installment of motion sensor lights. In lieu of the data about Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch halls, I researched the topic extensively to see the assets and liabilities that come with installing these lights. What I found is that overall installing the motion sensing lights is both more energy and cost efficient for the school.


Petersen, John E., Shunturov, Vladislav, Janda, Kathryn, Platt, Gavin,

Weinberger, Kate. Dormitory residents reduce electricity consumption when exposed to real‐time visual feedback and incentives. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 2007 8:1 , 16-33

This study was focused on the Oberlin College’s dorms to research the efficiency and energy consumption of its residents. Their results of this research provide evidence of real-time resource feedback systems when combined with education and an incentive, interest, motivate and empower college students to reduce resource use in dormitories.

Blume, Gregg. Electrical Shop Supervisor at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Gregg gave me access to the floor plans of all the residency halls on campus that do not have the motion sensor lights installed in their hallways. He also gave me more details about how to walk-through all the halls to record where the current LED lights are and how my project could help influence the directors to follow through with the installation of these efficient lights.

Niwa, Minoru. Pulse oximeter with physical motion sensor. Colin Electronics Co., Ltd, 1991. Grant Number: US 07/531,769 1-11

Multiple types of sensors of these lights allow for different levels of sensitivity to turn on these lights for efficiency.

Shulman-Ment, Maya. Motion sensor lighting in Lord/Saunders. The Freen EDGE Fund, 2016.

Student Maya Shulman-Ment analyzes the possibility of installing motion sensor lights in the Lord and Saunders dormitories at Oberlin College, Ohio. This is a project idea but she has a good train of thought about how she can accomplish this project to move forward.

Britton, Rachel. Motion sensor lights going up in residence halls. Tommie Media 2011

At St. Thomas campus dormitories, motion sensor lights were installed in 2011. The campus spent $2,658,635 for electricity the previous year and the motion sensor lights are expected to save 5% or approximately $130,000 on the total electrical cost.

Piekarz, Jeannie. Dormitory Motion Sensory Lighting. Clarkson University PDF 1-11

Eta Kappa Nu, or the Electrical, Computer and Software Engineering Honor Society wrote a project outline for installing motion sensor lights in the dormitories at Clarkson University. This society analyzed the materials needed, impacts, assessments, and feasibility of the installation of these lights.

Building and Grounds at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The Buildings and Grounds department will allow me to research cost of labor and installation costs that will allow for the motion sensor lights to be installed.

Sarkisian, Ellen. Benefits of Using Motion-Sensor Light Switches. The Eco Guide 2016.

Ellen Sarkisian uses multiple sources to analyze the effectiveness of motion sensor lights than the traditional LED lights. She uses national data to show an overall benefit to changing to motion sensor lights.

Energy.Gov Energy saver. When to Turn Off Your Lights.

The cost effectiveness of when to turn off lights depends of the types of lights and the price of electricity. This article analyzes the efficiency of LED lights as well as disadvantages to these lights.

College Programs to Reduce Energy Consumption in Dorms. Electric Choice.

This article shows how colleges all over the United States have raised awareness about college students’ consumption as well as kick-starting programs to encourage students to develop positive energy behaviors and reduce their energy consumption.

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