Caught in the Dark: FM Complaints

I wanted to share this hilarious story I heard on Anchor on a recent experience with occupancy sensors in restrooms. Colin's initial story is two minutes long, but you can listen to the whole thread for the "man on the street" take on what occ sensors should/shouldn't be doing. (Thanks to Colin for permission to repost.)

Among the responses he received, there's someone working in a hospital in Japan who had the same experience — lights cutting out too soon, leaving the user in the dark. Now, that's annoying in an office space and you just stand up and flap your arms or whatever, but it gets kind of awkward when you're trapping people in stalls, in the dark. Doesn't seem like an optimal situation, particularly in a restroom.

What are your experiences with occupancy sensors? How do you make sure the lights don't cycle off too soon, while still capturing the energy efficiency benefits you're after with the occ sensors in the first place? Do you have any good stories like Colin's? Post them in the comments below, or send them to me at and I'll repost them (anonymously) in our FM Complaints board.   

2 Replies

  • I had this happen to me at a restaurant. I went into the women's restroom and not 5 seconds after I sat down, the lights went off. Luckily, it was a single stall bathroom and wildly flailing my arms turned the lights back on. But 5 seconds later they went off again. I never realized how hard it is to do your business when you have to constantly move your arms....
  • In reply to Claudia Synnatzschke:

    The occupancy sensors with these issues are the wrong device or they are set-up wrong. Bathrooms need Ultrasonic or Dual-Tech sensors, with Ultrasonic and Infrared technologies. The Ultrasonic technology senses motion around corners and inside toilet stalls. The PIR technology senses large motion when people enter the space and activates the more sensitive ultrasonic sensing for minor motion detection. They work well in open office areas with cubicles. Sensor timeout is normally set between 5 and 15 minutes after no motion is detected. The unites referred to above are in test mode with 30 second timeout. Don't blame the sensor for installation errors.
Related Content