These luminescent switch plates aim to reinvent light switches

GlowaSwitch plate

These photoluminescent plates will illuminate light switches in the home for safety and convenience, with no extra wiring or electricity required.

Light switches, and switch plates, are often overlooked in homes and offices, and as long as they serve the function of covering up the hole in the wall and the wiring and they turn the light on and off, they're acceptable. They might come in different shades and shapes and materials, but they're all basically the same in style and function, and pretty much none of them help you find the light switch in the dark. There are a few glow-in-the-dark options out there, but not very effective ones, in my experience, and there are ones which require electricity, and yet what better service, other than controlling the lights, could a light switch perform other than to help me find it after dark, when I need it.

A new, upgraded, light switch plate is on the market, with two distinct selling features going for it. It's made from "state-of-the-art" photoluminescent plastic, so it glows all night long powered by the light it absorbs during the day, and it effectively acts as a nightlight for your light switches, making it safer and more convenient after dark. The second benefit is said to be its accompanying foam gasket, which serves to both cut off any air flow from the wall behind the light switch junction and to reflect back some of the light to the switch plate in front of it, in order to optimize its photoluminescence. (N.B. You can also find add-in foam light switch gaskets to install on existing switch and outlet plates at hardware stores, and many stick-built homes can benefit from this addition.)

The plate is called the LUMINNO GlowaSwitch, and it comes in two versions, the toggle (standard) and rocker/decorator (wide switch), with both having the same rounded profile on the front and sides. According to the company, this convex shape makes the switches visible from almost any angle in the room, and because of the strong glow and lasting luminescence, these plates offer high visibility with zero electricity input. And because it's just a light switch plate, not a wired light, it can be installed in a minute or two with just a screwdriver. The GlowaSwitch won't replace the need for night lights or a powered solution in certain situations, such as in a rarely-used room that isn't regularly lit enough to charge the plates, but they could prove to be a boon in pathfinding after hours, because light switches are often right by doorways, having them glow in the dark would light the way.

"GlowaSwitch light switch plates use an advanced, custom formulated photoluminescent plastic that truly glows the entire night to make finding light switches in the dark quick and easy. No more fumbling searching for light switches in dark or unfamiliar rooms. The long-persistence photoluminescent plastic has densely dispersed phosphorescent micro-particles embedded within that emit an extremely long lasting and uniform glow after being exposed periodically to either natural sunlight or artificial room light over the course of a typical day and evening."

I have mixed feelings about this product. On the one hand, it's a new plastic item (and do we really need more plastic anything?), and it's not meant to replace a broken item, but to upgrade an existing one, and it's not exactly cheap, and what do you do with a photoluminescent plastic item when it's broken? Recycle it? On the other hand, if it lives up to its promises, it will have a long useful life (while switch plates can break, it's not really a high risk item), and could potentially add to my security, convenience, and safety in my home, with no additional electricity input required. In which case, it would save time and money and peace of mind. On the flip side, if you are someone who needs it to be VERY DARK at night, these might not be a great choice, at least in the bedroom, as glow-in-the-dark stuff can't be turned off like a nightlight can. A few years ago, I upgraded some outlets in my house with these LED outlet covers, and several of them were awesome additions where I installed them, but I had to move a few of them to new locations because they were too bright for sleeping areas.

If you're interested in this light switch plate upgrade, check out LUMINNO or the GlowaSwitch Kickstarter campaign, where backers can pre-order units for January 2017 delivery.

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