Tricking a Hotel Room Air Conditioner/Occupancy Sensor


Several months ago I stayed in a hotel in which the room used an “occupancy sensor” to automatically shut off the air conditioner if no movement was detected after a brief delay. I didn’t consider it a true occupancy sensor. Instead, this seemed more like a simple motion sensor.

In my opinion an occupancy sensor shouldn’t shut off the A/C if someone is still in the room. For example, it should be able to detect the body heat of a room’s occupants. After one night of sleeping in a warm room I cobbled together a simple solution.

The core concept is to generate movement that will continuously trigger the motion sensor.

There are countless workaround that would be effective in a variety of situations and room configurations. The sophistication of the motion sensor may play a role (for example, whether or not it is triggered based on the size of an object that moves). I was fortunate – in this room the air vent was directly above the motion sensor/thermostat.

My solution was to take a length of toilet paper, use the clip on a lanyard to fix it to a point near the top of the vent, and then allow it to dangle in front of the sensor. The result was that the air from the vent caused the toilet paper to dance in front of the motion sensor, keeping the A/C running until it actually reached the temperature I had set the thermostat to.

It’s possible that in some situations, once the room was cooled to the desired temperature, that this would stop working since the motion sensor wouldn’t detect movement after the temperature increased. However, that wasn’t a problem. Perhaps the thermostat was set low enough that the A/C couldn’t actually cool the room to that temperature.

Some may argue that this defeats “going green” efforts. Others might claim that the temperature doesn’t matter once a person is asleep. That may be so but I don’t sleep well in a warm room. Many hotels make numerous claims of “going green” to save the environment. Sure, that is a benefit but I think it really comes down to increasing profits by reducing operating cost.

In the end, I just wanted to be able to sleep comfortably.

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