Toe Saver Night Light (Auto Under Bed Light)




Last year when my wife was prego I came across an ad for a motion activated under crib lighting system. When you approach the crib, the light goes on and you avoid disturbing your sleeping bundle of joy when you kick that stupid race car that makes revving noises when you touch it.
I looked at the price and said, "Dude! I could totally make it cheaper than that!" So that's what I did.

Since the bundle had not been delivered yet, I decided to make it for my own bed. During pregnancy my wife suffers from the common MPS (Midnight Pee Syndrome). Since she is not sleeping well anyway, these trips become quite perilous. So, adding a lit path for her bleary eyed travel seemed like the least I could do.

Step 1: Items Needed

Here are the items I used:

  1. 12V Infrared Motion Switch - $8
  2. 12V Red LED Light Ribbon - $8
  3. 120V to 12V Wall Wart - $free.99
  4. 120V Timer - $10 (also free because I already had one that was not in use)


Electricity is dangerous and can set things on fire. You don't want your bed on fire when you are sleeping...or any time for that matter. Make sure you follow good wiring practices, evaluate the load ratings of the system components and so forth. Be educated and be safe.

Step 2: How Much Light Do I Want?

So the light ribbon I got was 5 meters long. That let me line 3 sides of my bed, plus a little more. Turns out, that was plenty!

I went with color red thinking it would be less intense on sleepy eyes. I have those red LED camping head lamps and the red really is less abrasive. Plus I heard somewhere that the color red makes women a little more amorous!

I mounted it behind the inner face of the bed frame so it would be completely indirect lighting. Again, saving the shock to the eyes is the key to a safe and pleasant middle of the night potty trip.

I think other "brighter" colors would need less length or less wattage per foot or something.

The LED ribbon strip stuff I got was sticky backed, supposedly allowing you to just stick it and forget it. I didn't trust it, so after sticking it in place I broke out the hot glue gun and gave it a little extra support.

Step 3: Your Bed Is Now Watching You...

I wanted for either one of us to be able to turn the light on, but I didn't want it to be accidental from someone sitting on the edge of the bed or something like that. I decided to put the sensor at the foot of the bed. Of course this added a little complexity to the project. I had already mounted the light ribbon so it started and ended at the head of the bed, and now the sensor (switch) was going to be at the foot of the bed. This was remedied with a length of electrical wiring between the two. In hindsight, I probably had enough length of LED ribbon to make a full rectangle under the bed, and have the start/end of the ribbon at the foot of the bed. This would have avoided the need for the extra wire.

This particular motion sensor has settings that adjust how sensitive it is and how long it stays on. It wouldn't do as much good if it turned off while someone was still in the bathroom, because they would have to walk halfway back to bed before tripping the light again, and possibly tripping on something along the way. After some trial and error, we found a good time that allowed for a bathroom break, but didn't stay on real long once back in bed.

At this point you are probably thinking, "Dude, wouldn't it be easier to just clean your room up a little and remove all those tripping hazards?! I mean really, what kind of slob are you?!" Well, to you I say, "Our master bedroom is kinda long, with the toilet room on the far side of the attached master bathroom. Besides, I have to keep my collections of A-Team action figures in my room because I am tired of explaining things when guests come over."

Step 4: Power and Control

The point of the timer is so the lights are not activated during the day. I set the timer to be "on" from about dusk (6pm) to about dawn (6am).

Why do this? I don't know. Save electricity? Reduce the number of on/off cycles? It just seemed like the right thing to do...don't judge me.

The wall wart was one I kept from some long forgotten device. I made sure it put out 12V and was rated for over 24W, which is the load from the LED ribbon.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Happy Toes!

Turns out there is something really cool and futuristic about the experience. My wife was happy and un-bruised. I also feel a bit like a celebrity walking a glowing red carpet...although woefully under-dressed! All in all, I'm really happy with this project.

I must warn fellow light sleepers: The first night or two, I did notice the click of the motion sensor and the soft glow of increased ambient light in the room. But I quickly became immune to such distractions and slept soundly knowing my schmoopee was peeing safe and sound!

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8 Discussions


3 years ago

I'm trying to figure out how to wire the motion sensor..


3 years ago

I'm missing the motion detector and I can start making this. But, I've tested out the timer I bought, looks similar to the one in the photo, and there's no way I could use it. It ticks pretty loudly.


4 years ago on Step 3

Cool. So your LED strip is switched on by some sort of 12 Volt output from your motion sensor, or is your motion sensor switching on 120 Volt to your wall wart that then feeds the led strips


4 years ago on Introduction

Really cool idea, and seems so simple to implement. I don't know too much about led strips but I have heard you can cut them and wire them as needed. Would it be possible to cut sections of light and put wiring between them so that you would have overall fewer lights? I like this idea but I don't want anything too bright and figured maybe fewer led's would be a softer light. Thanks.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Yes, LED strips have solder pads where you can cut them - see the attached photo.

If you cut it right in the middle of the copper colored pads, you can solder wires in between (plus to plus and minus to minus).

You could also just dim the LEDs, either by using a slightly lower voltage (a couple of diodes in series may be what it takes), or you can make a simple PWM regulator to get the full range from 0 to 100% and just dial in what suits you. The really nice solution is to make it adjust relative to ambient light, as this will keep it from blinding you when it's totally dark, while giving more light when it's semi-dark, keeping a relative contrast ratio - regulating fluidly up and down - and perhaps cutting out completely when there's enough ambient light.

Wouldn't be too hard to make it sense if somebody gets in/out of the bed and act upon that info - or fading up/down over a short time, to be even more gentle to the sleepy eye :)


4 years ago



4 years ago on Introduction

I love this! It would have saved me many a stubbed toe and the recurring feeling of failing to stifle expletives at 3 in the morning. Great job!