Light Switch Problems


When moving into my dorm at Lebanon Valley, one of the first issues that I encountered was what I believed to be a power outage. I was lead to believe this because when I first flipped the light switch the lights didn’t come on. After talking to other people in my hallway, we all seemed to encounter the same problem. When I investigating the issue further, I realized that there is a second switch located on the lights that then turned on the light.

This issue could simply be avoided by removing the second switch located on the light. This would be an affective use of a constraint, which limits the actions that can be preformed on a system. Also, this design challenges or doesn’t match our mental models of how light switches should work. For example, we often associate flipping a switch up as a way to turn something on but this does not occur with this design unless the switch on the light itself is also turned on.

In order to avoid this issue, many people tape the light switch on the wall so that they only need flip the switch located on the lights. Although this is a simple solution to the problem, it increase the kinematic load upon students and doesn’t create the ideal solution to the issue.


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