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mbaudler 11-29-2010 02:04 PM

Motion Activated Light Control Issue
I am trying to use a Leviton 180 motion activated switch to control a 4w bulb in my bath fan (Panasonic FV-08VKML2). The fan has a few components: fan, 18w fluorescent lights, and a 4w incandescent night light - each can be controlled with their own individual switches.

I wanted to use a motion activated switch to turn on the 4w night light if my wife walks into the bathroom in the middle of the night - a hands free solution to fumbling for a switch in the dark while groggy.

I installed the motion activated switch which works properly in the off / on setting. When in the auto setting, it will detect motion and give full power to the 4w bulb. The problem is that once motion is no longer detected / the 5 minutes runs out, the 4w bulb only dims, it does not turn completly off. Leviton says I need a commercial motion activated switch (0DS10) since the 4w bulb is part of a bath fan. They said this residential switch does not have the "horse power" to control the 4w light since it is a part of the bathroom fan. I did try a different motion activated switch and it does the same thing.

I thought I would check here to get some opinions before spending more money on another motion activated switch.

oberkc 11-29-2010 09:11 PM

4W bulb? Incandescent? It isn't CFL, is it?

Some light switches require a minimum load to work. I understand that there is a small pass-through current in some designs. These types don't work well for low power lights, such as LEDs. Many are not compatible with CFLs. I wonder if you need a larger lamp. Does the instructions address this minimum load or compatibility issues?

The explanation from Leviton makes me wonder if they are assuming you are powering the fan from the switch. You are not, correct? Just the light? I would confirm this with Leviton before spending more money. It doesn't take much horsepower to control a 4w bulb only.

frenchelectrican 11-29-2010 09:17 PM

Which Levtion 180 Model you have ??

Basically they are required minum of 40 watts to keep them functioning correct.


emolatur 11-29-2010 09:20 PM

Let me guess, motion sensor switch with only two wires.

The electronics need some power in order to work. They get this without a neutral by allowing a small amount of current to flow through the load.

With a largish load, the small standby current isn't noticeable (2W through a 60W bulb does basically nothing), but when the load is too small, a problem arises.

MY solution is to go back to the store and find a motion sensor that connects with THREE wires (and I don't mean a 3-way one. I mean one with its own NEUTRAL wire).

mbaudler 11-30-2010 07:12 AM

Thanks everyone. It is a 4w incandescent, it is meant to be a night light so it is very dim, one of the reasons I went with this bath fan unit. T

There is no minimum load on the instruction sheet, only max load. It does say "No intended for use with electronic ballasts". I guess I assumed the incadecently 4w night light was not a part of the 18w florescent electronic ballast - maybe I was wrong on that. It does say it is intended for magnetic rapid start ballasts only. This is the Decora PR-180-22c.

It sounds like I should give the commercial sensor a try since it can be used for electonic ballasts and it also has 3 wires (white, black, ground).

Link to the fan

emolatur 11-30-2010 08:50 AM


Q. Is there a minimum load requirement for the PR180 & PR150?
A. YES. The PR180 and PR150 both require a 40 watt minimum load

Allow me to point out something:

The standby current required by a motion switch is at least the current required to light your nightlight.

If you got rid of the night light, and kept just the switch, you would be consuming as much electricity as if you just kept the nightlight on.

You're saving nothing. Leave the light on.

bob22 11-30-2010 03:47 PM

Less than 25 cents/year or so to run full time.

VersaBar 11-30-2010 03:54 PM


Originally Posted by emolatur (Post 542881)
The standby current required by a motion switch is at least the current required to light your nightlight.


I checked Leviton's site but I couldn't find any spec, I wonder exactly what the power consumption of the OC is...

frenchelectrican 11-30-2010 09:05 PM


Originally Posted by VersaBar (Post 543112)

I checked Leviton's site but I couldn't find any spec, I wonder exactly what the power consumption of the OC is...

I know European specs they draw about 4 to 7 Ma but America verison should be less than couple Ma to keep it on stand by.


mbaudler 12-14-2010 08:52 AM

Thanks all. I will just leave it as a switched light and leave it on at night.

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