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Review: First Alert PIR725 motion sensing socket

I bought a First Alert PIR725 motion sensing socket, which has the distinction of working with CFLs, as well as incandescent bulbs. The premise is simple. Screw it into a bulb socket, screw the bulb into the socket, and it turns the light on when it sees you, then after it senses there’s no one in the room, it waits four minutes and turns the light off.

Unspectacular, yes. But I find it works well. It senses me at a consistent distance, and turns itself off as advertised. The CFL bulb I use it with acts perfectly normal with it.

Installation is exactly the same as changing a light bulb, so it’s much easier than installing a motion-sensing switch. Just unscrew the bulb, replace it with this socket, then screw the bulb into this socket. It advertises itself as being ideal for basements, garages, laundry rooms, utility rooms, and closets. It’ll work anywhere you have a bare bulb in a ceiling fixture. The only nit I have to pick with their claim is that bare bulbs in closets usually aren’t permitted by current building codes anymore. Not that anyone’s likely to know, unless you put one in just before you sell your house or something.

I like it enough to buy another one. There’s a light switch in the garage, but rather than change that switch, I may just get out the ladder, install a motion sensing socket, and call it good. I’d buy more, but there just aren’t any other bare sockets in the house where they would work. Some houses have more places for this gadget than others.

The Amazon reviews on this First Alert motion sensing socket are mostly positive, which is to be expected. Either the unit works or it doesn’t. As I write, it has 97 reviews; 13 of them negative, 75 positive, and 9 neutral. Most of the neutral reviews stem from people buying it not realizing it doesn’t fit (or work properly) in a fixture.

I would expect the majority of early failures to take a week or even a month, since most electronics fail within their first 24 hours of operation if they’re going to fail, and when a device operates for a few minutes at a time, it can take weeks for it to reach 24 hours of run time.

My recommendation, if you buy one, is to go out of your way to activate it a few times a day, to get 24 hours of runtime in as early as possible. Amazon has a 30-day return policy, so I’d probably have to double or triple our normal number of trips to the basement to get that much runtime in before the return period runs out. That’s doable, and trips on the staircase are good exercise anyway.

2016 update: I still have my First Alert PIR725 motion sensing socket and it still works well. I put an LED bulb in it a good while ago and it works with it without problems.

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