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Do It Yourself or Not: Install a motion-sensing switch

By Gene and Katie Hamilton, Tribune Content Agency on

After living in a home or apartment with motion-sensing switches, it’s a safety convenience you take for granted. Whether you’re finding your way on a dark walkway outside or entering a room at night, a light switch with a sensor that turns on when it detects motion is very helpful. These sensors anticipate movement and make it safe going down a dark staircase to the basement, in public bathrooms and even while cruising the lighted freezer section in grocery stores; they conserve energy while providing instant lighting.

To replace an existing light switch with one of these motion-sensing devices, no additional wiring is needed so it’s doable for a handy homeowner. Once you replace one, you will have confidence to go through the house and repeat the installation.

To replace a motion-sensing switch an electrician will charge $263, which includes labor and material. You can buy the device for $75, install it yourself, and save 71%.

To make the swap first, turn off the power at the circuit breaker. The job involves removing the switch plate cover to access the switch and then replacing it with the new one. Follow the directions from the manufacturer disconnecting and reconnecting the wires.

After removing the switch plate cover, before you remove the switch take a picture with your cellphone as a reference to see how the wires are connected so you know exactly where the wires go on the new device. Replace the wires and secure the new switch in the box, then reinstall the new switch plate cover, and turn on the power at the circuit breaker.

If electrical work is not in your wheelhouse, hire an electrician to replace several switches, and other projects like upgrading some old fixtures; this will spread the initial travel charges and minimum hourly rate over several projects.


Pro Cost: $263 — DIY Cost: $75 Pro time: 1.1 — DIY Time: 2.3 DIY Savings: $188 — Percent Saved: 71%


To find more DIY project costs and to post comments and questions, visit www.diyornot.com.

Pro Cost — DIY Cost — Pro time — DIY Time — DIY Savings — Percent Saved




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