Subscriber Discussion

Can You Do Better Than ADI? Pretty Bad If You Cannot

Called ADI system design hotline. Here was the request.

Customer wants the following (for 2 rooms)

1) At Night-time/when dark.

2) Intruder enters a room.

3) The Lights in that room turn on. (currently the lights are controlled by a wall switch)

ADI recommended solution, $1123 + Tax/Freight keep the themed topic going. Can you do better?

<$75, tax & freight

Brian, not fair... most techs aren't allowed to install a light switch unless an electrician... didn't say they can't just not allowed...

Protip: Just flip the circuit breaker. It doesn't get much more 'low voltage' than 0 volts.


When you say 'better', do you mean more expensive so you can make more money gouging the customer or?

"Better" in this case would mean, meet the requirements for less money and still be reliable. The client is a local non-profit daycare with about 15 children. They have been broken into several times, so I suggested turning on some lights activated by motion at night. I thought there would be a low cost and reliable solution the ADI could provide. I was a bit shocked that they spec'd out an $1100 solution.

I was mainly kidding. Thanks for elaborating though on the application, that certainly helps.

Hi Brian, I did come across these. I just wasn't sure how sensitive they are. The 2 rooms are about 30x30' I was concerned that if they didn't walk right near one of these, the lights wouldn't turn on. Thoughts?

So this is where the cost comes in. The light switch style occupancy sensors are good for about ~100 sq. ft., or about a 15'- 20' wide strip about 5' - 7' deep. They are great at turning on the lights when you enter a bathroom, stairwell, or closet as long as you pass within range of a lightswitch.

Typically, there are limited paths in/out of a room, and you want the lights to come on when someone enters. I doubt you need coverage over all 900 sq. ft, just over the likely traffic points. This is the key here - the relationship of the light switch to room entry. If these are close together, you have a good shot at the simple solution. If you have a wall of windows to cover, you'll likely need something else.

If entry is possible at numerous points in that 30'x30' space, the solution may very well need to be an external occupancy sensor and high voltage interface like ADI quoted (their recommendation claims 1500' coverage). If you haven't already, I recommend thinking about how much sensor coverage you really need.

Feel free to chime in if you know, we'll keep going.

Undisclosed A Integrator,

How will that system differentiate between an intruder and the "regular" occupants on the premise?

Not knowing the intruders point of entry may make the integrated switch motions unreliable. As for distinguishing between intruder / staff, I don't see an issue if the lights turn on automatically for staff at night, may be convenient. I heard back from another distributor who recommended 'Insteon' They have a motion detector that wirelessly communicates with a wall switch. Sounds like a fit, just have no experience with this manufacturer. Anyone heard of them?

Why not just two outside light sensors near points of value. By using a two way switch you could also wire the switch to light a blue flashing light.

Sounds like more of job for ADT than ADI, no?

1. I'm trying to imagine what a day care burglar might be hoping to swipe? Graham crackers are only ~$2.79 at Walmart.

2. How long does the light stay on - and is a light enough of a catalyst to make them leave after already gaining entry (to set off the detector to turn the light on)? Depends on your level of sneak thief and the geographic location I suppose.

1) hand sanitizer, sad 2) the light could be left on for 30 second after no motion or 1hr, wouldn't make too much of a difference. The thief's are not sneaky, they're drinking hand sanitizer...

funny.... :)

But seriously - the sanitizer huffer is already inside before a light goes on.

I like lights outside to scare away.

Once the perimater has been breached, I prefer pre-recorded audio messages at high volume about the impending deployment of nerve gas that begins counting down from 10.

...or some other kind of catalyst to make someone flee immediately, preferably in search of new shorts.

If your perps won't fall for the old nerve gas bit, but soiled shorts are what you are after, may I suggest an all-too-real halon blanket, like the one shown here on surveillence video, with inaudible audio countdown: (skip to 1 min mark, unless you are easily amused)

Fortunately everything covered by halon was also covered by insurance, shorts included...

you could do a zwave enabled alarm panel (such as 2gig go control) and a zwave enabled switches... set rules so when the doors open or a motion is tripped the lights will turn on...
classic... I wonder if I could use that line with an inspector...

Install one of these. It’ll be the last box of graham crackers they take!

Don't know pricing but I've seen this compact little unit in action before from Bandit Solutions sold through ADI.

Retail Video demo

Having run a dive shop with regular High Pressure tanks blowing their burst disks, the deafening sound of the rapidly releasing gas alone causes extreme skid mark risk to ones trousers. Add the wailing alarm and the near instant white out conditions and I'd actually start getting worried about being sued by the burglars after they shattered bones leaving a Wiley Coyote outline in the wall as they ran through it (probably screaming like school girs).

Insteon motion sensor: ~$35: Insteon 2842-222 Wireless Motion Sensor: Home Improvement

Insteon lamp module: ~$45: Insteon 2457D2 Lamp Dimmer Plug-in Module, 2-Pin - Use Insteon Hub with Alexa & Google Assistant - Plug In Dimmer Switches -

Insteon controller and powerline interface: ~$300: Universal Devices Home Automation Controller Smart Hub ISY994i INSTEON - Compatible with Alexa - Electrical Equipment -

You can also do wired light switches for about the same price (~$45), but as others have pointed out, the code issues of wiring them are up to you.

The modern Insteon stuff is dual-band (powerline and RF), so you won't need a phase coupler. The controller would provide some if-then login to receive signals from the motion detector(s) and only turn lights on at night, and also turn them off if desired after a period of time. All-in, you can probably do the same thing for 1/2, or less, of what ADI quoted you. And, you'd have a more flexibile system.

Yes, this is where I'm leaning right now. However, my distributor only quoted me the motions and switches. They said the controller is not required. Maybe I'll see if Insteon answers their phone.

Is there a reason you couldn't use a strobe instead of just turning the lights on? Not that I'm opposed to turning lights on on alarm (I think it's not done enough in intrusion systems), but strobes tend to give intruders more of a shock and awe effect and drive them out more quickly.

My Primary concern with the Loud scary noises, smoke systems, pepper spray, blinding/stobing lights is the event of a false alarm. The building is occupied with children between the ages of 2-4. I don't want my legacy to be the guy who tramatized 15 children by deafening and/or blinding and/or causing PTSD.

Don't worry. It sounds like these kids are more likely to be traumatized by weirdos drinking hand sanitizer. :)

In any case, it might be less expensive to install access control on the storage area than integrating light controls. I'm still unclear on just how many potential openings there are into these areas, but a small locking cabinet or keypad lock on the doors might door a better job at keeping valuables from being stolen.

I called Insteon and they have said the motion detectors can talk directly to the switches (each to its own). So I've ordered 2 motions and 2 switches for a total of $150. I'll let you know what issues I run into and if it seems like a reliable solutions.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Great! Please give us an update after everything is installed just to let us know if you liked it!

I would tell that customer to phone an electrician as I am not allowed to touch 120VAC. I know how to do it, but I will not because I can not.

But that's just me.

Here's 2 simple solutions that will do the job.

Make sure that there is a network connection locally to the light.

[IPVM NOTE: Poster is from Netgenium]

Then option 1:(If using traditional lights) install 1 x IP Lighting Controller from Netgenium (ALC0808-IP) This can then be set up from the network to automatically turn on and off etc via a web browser set up menu. Connect the light circuit to the light controller. Connect 1 x PIR sensor to one of the multiple I/O terminals on the unit. Job done.Input activated then light on. No activation after a period of time = light off. Costs around $700 and the silly thing is that ADI sell them.(So do Anixter as well)

Option 2: If this is a new office build then just install IPPOE lights. (All lights are run from POE ports and no electrician required so it is a different design than normal) They are available and can have built in PIR detection. The good thing about these is that the software that runs them can associate lights with cameras to start recording etc. and even play pre-recorded messages from speakers on activation. So when the intruder walks in, a recorded message can play to tell him that the cops are on their way - or other more interesting comments. Also from Netgenium and the price depends on the type of light fittings you need etc. (Best go to Anixter for these though cos ADI just won't get what you are on about).