Rooms such as bathrooms can be very dark at night. Turning on the room light at night is uncomfortable to the eyes due to darkness-induced pupil dilation, and full illumination at daytime levels is typically unnecessary due to improved light collection of the dilated pupils as well as the adequacy of limited visibility for most bathroom-related activities. It is thus desired to provide a lower level of illumination for a bathroom at night.
In the past various devices, known as night lights, have been used for illuminating bathrooms and other dark places at night. These night lights typically employ incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes to provide a reduced level of illumination as compared with daytime lighting. The reduced light level produced by the night light is sufficient for using the bathroom facilities without being so bright as to be intrusive, disorienting, or even painful to individuals with darkness-induced pupil dilation.
These past night lights have several disadvantages. They usually monopolize an electrical outlet. This is particularly problematic in modern bathrooms where a large number of electrical appliances are already employed, such as electric razors, hair dryers, air fresheners, and the like. In many such night lights, there is no power cable. Rather, the blades of the electrical plug are molded rigidly into the night light housing and the night light is affixed to the electrical outlet by the electrical plug blades. This can further limit the electrical outlet usage due to the size and unwieldiness of the affixed night light which not only occupies an outlet but also can block an adjacent outlet.
Past night lights are also not usually located in very close proximity to the bathroom sink, faucet, washbasin, showerhead, or other apparatus which is the destination of the night-wandering person's trek. As mentioned above, in many cases the night light is directly affixed to the electrical outlet by rigidly incorporated electrical plug blades. It is therefore located some distance away and does not illuminate the washbasin, toilet, or the like with good efficiency. Placement of conventional night lights near bathroom plumbing fixtures, especially faucets, is limited by safety concerns arising from an incompatibility of the 120 volt a.c. electrical power with the externally accessible water flow.
The spatial separation of past night lights from the washbasin also complicates the operation of the night light. In one operative method, the night light remains on constantly, or at least whenever the room is dark. This method wastes electricity, and can also produce stray light that can be annoying to sleeping individuals. Safety issues can also arise with an unattended conventional night light. In the case of an incandescent night light, a hot incandescent bulb is left unattended at night. In the case of a fluorescent night light, a source employing a high voltage electrical discharge is left unattended.
In another operative method, the night light is manually switched on and off as needed. This method requires that night-wandering person physically access the night light, which as mentioned before is typically not located very close to the target plumbing fixture. This method disadvantageously leaves the user unaided in locating the night light in the dark. Such a situation is not only inconvenient, but can also be dangerous as the person is left to blindly probe in search of the electrically energized device.
Yet another disadvantage of past night lights is that they are operatively disconnected from the associated plumbing fixture. For example, a conventional night light does not communicate with the washbasin faucet and cannot inform the user of its status. This can be problematic at night, because due to the reduced light levels (even with the night light) and the drowsy state of the night-wandering person, he or she is apt to be careless and run the faucet too hot or too cold, or at an undesirably high flow rate. A similarly dangerous situation can come to pass for an early-rising person attempting to take a shower in the dark, so as not to disturb other sleeping individuals.
Still yet another disadvantage of past night lights is that they do not take advantage of the aesthetically pleasing design of modern bathroom sinks, which often have acrylic or other multi-faceted light-transmissive and light-reflective handles. These handles can be difficult to see using past night lights due to the limited reflectivity of the light-transmissive material.
The present invention contemplates an improved apparatus and method that overcomes the above-mentioned limitations and others.
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