Securing your house when you’re on vacation or at work is crucial to keep yourself and your belongings safe. However, not every homeowner can afford a full security system to protect themselves and their property. Fear not! That’s when light timers come into play.
Affordable and fairly easy to use, they are life-saving tools that keep both your house and your bank account safe. Light timers save your money in two different ways: by scaring away thieves, thus preventing robberies, and by ensuring that appliances in your house shut down in time to keep you from wasting energy. So if you’re looking for a way to protect your belongings and save energy without spending a fortune, this is your sign to look into light timers.
Let There Be Light
Preparedness is everything in a survival situation. Of course, survival skills and proper gear can help a lot, but it is better to be ready for any, even the worst scenario, in advance. Situational awareness is of great importance, too. But when you wish to fortify your household, there should be no half-measures.
To put it simply, a light timer or a timer switch is a device that can be programmed to turn the lights on and off automatically. You can use it to control your outdoor lights or to make it look like your household is crammed with people when you’re away on a trip to scare thieves away, just like in that one “Home Alone” scene.
Timer switches can control pool pumps and sprinklers, outdoor appliances, fans and heaters, heavy-duty appliances, seasonal lighting and security lights, and other devices.
There are various types of timers out there — namely, mechanical timers and electronic ones, heavy-duty timers, outdoor timers, etc., etc. Mechanical timers are more reliable and durable and do not require electricity to work, proving to be especially helpful when there’s a power outage. Electronic timers can be more precise and accurate down to the second.
Heavy-duty outdoor timers can withstand storms and blizzards, so you can automate your outdoor holiday lights, etc., etc.
Providing Ultimate Protection
A light timer switch can be a handy life-saving security tool for urban survival and homestead. Thieves who operate during nighttime usually try to hide in the darkness, and bright lights in your front yard will scare them away. Criminals might try to break into your house when you’re away, but with a timer switch, your lights will turn on automatically, making it seem like someone is inside and serving as a warning sign for robbers to stay away. Some light timers have a “vacation mode” feature, allowing you to leave for a while and rest assured that your property is safe.
Criminals can observe your house for some time before attempting a break-in, and if they discover a strict pattern, they can conclude that the lights are automated, and there’s actually no one home. Obviously, you don’t want to give soon-to-be robbers any ideas, which is why you can program your timer to turn the lights on for just a few minutes or for multiple days straight. The settings for different days of the week can differ, making it impossible for thieves to determine whether you’re home or not.
So Many Options
Choosing a timer switch may turn out to be quite a complicated task, given that there are lots of different options out there with various features offered by various brands from all around the world.
To help you shop for the best timer, let’s dissect the 2 categories of light timers. After that, we will take a look at the best light timer switches available on the market in 2021, their characteristics, notable features, pros, and cons.
1. Mechanical timers
Mechanical timers operate very similarly to toaster time knobs. As mentioned earlier, they don’t need electrical energy, relying instead on the mechanical force provided by the user. Turning the dial on a mechanical timer gives it the power that is required for the mechanism to work. Some of the mechanical spring-wound dial models are deemed old-fashioned, but that does not take away their durability and reliability. They also cost way less money.
However, due to their simplicity, they are not that precise as electronic models, they don’t allow for the same level of variability, and their settings cannot be personalized in the same way an electric light timer’s settings can.
Mechanical timers are often used to control outdoor lights, pool pumps, ceiling fans, water heaters, irrigation systems, signs, and certain other appliances. With a mechanical light timer switch, you won’t need to worry about power outages or its battery running out.
2. Electronic timers
Unlike mechanical timers, electronic light timers can be programmed to suit all of your personal needs. On/off events can be scheduled more precisely. They are accurate down to the second, can be put on automatic mode, their settings can be personalized so that you can adjust them to your likings.
Electronic models are far more complicated — some of them can be linked with smart-home systems and connected to your Alexa or Google Home. An electronic light timer typically has an LCD screen, a battery, a backup battery and can be used to operate almost every device in the household.
If you’re looking for a timer that controls outdoor appliances such as pool heaters, gardening gear like sprinklers, Christmas lighting, or backyard projectors, consider buying one with grounded outlets and built-in short circuit protection. If your timer switch is going to be a part of your permanent security system, timers that plug into the wall might be a good fit.
Some electronic timers, called astronomic timers, can automatically adjust to sunsets and sunrises. Astronomic timers make it easier to save energy by turning the lights off during nighttime. They can also help to protect your house better by turning security lights on right when it gets dark.
Best Light Timers On The Market
To help you choose the perfect light timer that will suit all of your needs, we have compiled a list of the world’s best light timers as of 2021. Make sure to look into every item prior to purchasing it to see if it’s compatible with your appliances!
You can purchase a light timer in your local electronics shop, in a security equipment store, or order it online. Links will be provided.
This two-outlet light timer is user-oriented and very easy to operate due to its huge LCD screen and easily understandable controls. It has dual grounded outlets that equate it to 2 single-outlet timers.
Its outlets can be used independently so that you can connect them to two separate devices simultaneously. The Neaprow Dual Digital Light Timer is precise down to the second and easily programmable. Its settings can be changed in a variety of ways to fit all of your requirements. More than a dozen personalized programs are available. It also has a vacation mode, meaning that the timer will turn the lights on and off at random times to confuse potential robbers, and it is appropriate for both indoor and outdoor applications.
This weatherproof timer switch is a great choice if you’re looking for a timer to use with devices like heaters, irrigation systems, and pool pumps. It is specifically designed to withstand heavy weather. It lets you program down-to-the-minute off/on events, saving as much energy as possible and prolonging your devices’ life.
This timer also has a self-charging backup accumulator to store your personalized settings in case of a power loss. It features a digital timer, a random setting, and a countdown timer, and events can be set up for a whole week in advance.
This efficient two-outlet digital timer switch works perfectly with fans, kitchen gear, and indoor lighting. Its two grounded outlets can be used at the same time. You can program it yourself or use its already-set programs that save you the headaches of coming up with your own combinations. Just like the previously mentioned timers, this one has a backup energy source and features a vacation mode.
This compact digital timer switch is fairly small and can be plugged directly into a wall outlet. It is a 7-day programmable and has 10 on/off programs. The manufacturer recommends using it for internal devices like plant grow lighting and watering/air systems in gardens and greenhouses. You can also use it to make breakfast — this timer switch can be linked with kettles and toasters, meaning that you can program these devices to turn on and off automatically in pre-set times. That way, when you walk into the kitchen early in the morning, your toasts will be waiting for you fresh and hot, and the water for your tea will be boiled already!
Just like the previous item on the list, this one can be plugged straight into the wall. It is heat and impact resistant, has 18 unique settings and a random mode. Like the other timers on the list, it has a built-in backup power source. It is advised that you use it for lights, motors, ceiling fans, and sprinklers. It has a blue light digital display, allowing for the use of the timer switch even when it’s dark in the room.
Both the Enerlites Timer and the UKOKE switch ship Prime, meaning that you can order it now and pick it up from your doorstep the next day.
This timer was made specifically for Christmas decorations and landscape lighting, so it is especially sturdy and durable. It will still work even during a blizzard or a storm, and it is not affected by extreme cold or heat.
Its controls are a bit different from what you have already seen, as it is screen-free and uses pins instead of buttons. The green pin’s placement determines the starting time. To set the ending time, you need to put in the red one.
Due to its rather simple design, this timer switch is not as programmable as other items on the list, but it ships with 2 sets of pins for scheduling 2 on/off events daily.
It has FOUR outlets that can function separately. The manufacturer has also made it possible to manage the device remotely using your phone. It can be linked to your Alexa or Google Assistant. It is pretty much everything-proof and can resist fire, heavy weather, and extreme temperatures.
The manufacturer advises this BL-LINK timer switch to be used outside, while the already-mentioned BN-LINK model is most suitable for the under-the-roof application. Yet again, the timer is screen-less. Its outlets cannot work individually. This device can be managed through voice commands when connected to your Alexa or Google Home through a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network. You can set it up remotely using an app, which is extremely convenient and practical. Moreover, 30 on/off settings are available.
This 24-hour programmable mechanical timer is perfect for external use.
Its simplicity does not take away its functionality. It has 2 grounded outfits, is LED, CFL, Incandescent, and Halogen compatible, and can work in extreme weather conditions, making it the best fit for holiday and security lighting.
The Intermatic HB880R 15-Amp Outdoor Digital Timer is quite costly — reasonably so. Its astronomic settings self-adjust to dusk and dawn times, allowing for pinpoint accuracy. It can be plugged straight into the wall. The timer is weatherproof, making it ideal for outdoor application. Events can be scheduled for a week, or they can be randomized with a special setting to confuse potential thieves.
To Sum Up
Light timers are a great way to secure your home and keep you from wasting energy. Dozens of timers are available on the market, varying in price, size, material, configuration, etc. — from old-school spring-wound models to super-programmable digital ones that are precise down to the millisecond, so you can definitely find one that suits you the best. With a light timer that minimizes electricity consumption, thus lowering your electric bill and makes your home a harder target, you can rest assured that your house is safe, and so is your bank account.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you still have any questions left about light timers, look into the FAQ segment for an answer.
Why should I buy one?
Let’s sum up. Light timers can:
- lower your bills;
- make your life more eco-friendly by preventing you from overusing electricity;
- extend the life of your devices;
- make your house a harder target for thieves;
- automate your routine tasks, making your day-to-day life easier.
Are light timers safe?
They are. In fact, fairy lights in your room are probably more likely to cause a fire than a timer. Fires are usually caused by overloaded circuits or damaged cords and wires.
Still, you need to use it with caution — just like any device that uses electricity.
How do they work?
Light timers serve as communicators between power sources on one end and lights or other appliances on the other. A light timer is basically an electrical circuit with a time-measuring feature. It turns the lights on and off automatically at the times you set.
Mechanical light timers, as mentioned before, work similarly to toaster time knobs.
A mechanical timer has a spring that compresses when the timer is turned. After that, the spring starts unwinding, thus turning gears and moving the timer’s dial. When the spring is unwound completely, the timer finishes its cycle.
How do I program a light timer?
It totally depends on the model, and most timers come with step-by-step instructions. Most timers are user-friendly and fairly easy to program.
Let’s imagine you have to program the Neaprow timer that we reviewed at the beginning of the article.
Step 1. Charge the timer for at least half an hour.
Step 2. Reset the timer before using it
Step 3. Set the current time by pressing the WEEK, HOUR, MINUTE, and SECOND buttons;
Step 4. Press SELECT. Choose either Timer 1, Timer 2, or Timer 1&2;
Step 5. Press SET and choose the “ON” time using the WEEK/HOUR/MINUTE/SECOND buttons;
Step 6. Likewise, set the “OFF” time.
Step 7. Press “CONFIRM.”
How much electricity do they consume?
One thing is clear: a light timer saves way more energy than it uses. A mechanical timer’s consumption rate is about 1 Watt per hour, and a digital one uses about twice as much.
A 60-watt light bulb consumes 60 watt-hours. That is 60 times more. Leaving the lights on for a few nights will not make a significant difference, but if it becomes a bad habit, the impact will be more substantial. Now think how much energy is wasted when you leave your TV on! It is safe to say that light timers are worth the investment.