Programmable Timer

When we built our home five years ago, we had the electrician install switched eave plugs.  These are handy because they provide a convenient place to plug in your Christmas lights and you can turn them on and off from a switch inside your home.  Five years later, we still haven’t invested in some nice eave lights, but we did run an extension cord from one of our switched eave plugs out to some Christmas lights we hung on the pine tree in our front yard.  (It is a TANNENBAUM semi-dwarf mugo pine after all).  The only problem was we kept forgetting to turn the lights on at sunset, and a few times we forgot to turn them off before going to bed, wasting money on electricity.  Enter the solution to our problem… (drum roll)… a PROGRAMMABLE TIMER!

We replaced the switch inside our front closet that controls the eave plugs with this programmable timer.  This involved the following steps:

  1. Turning the breaker switch off for the eave plug circuit in the electrical panel box.
  2. Removing the cover plate screws and cover plate from the existing switch.
  3. Removing the screws holding the existing switch to the electrical box.
  4. Pulling the switch out far enough to disconnect the wires from the existing switch.
  5. Wiring the programmable timer according to the instruction manual.
  6. Connecting the programmable timer to the electrical box with the screws provided.
  7. Reinstalling the cover plate with screws.
  8. Turning the breaker switch to the eave plug circuit back on at the electrical panel box.

before...

wiring...

after

Once we turned the power back on, we set the time and date on the programmable timer, and it was already programmed by default to turn our Christmas lights on at sunset and turn off at 11pm.  The timer also had the following nifty features:

  • Large backlit display, with night light mode, so it’s super easy to read inside our closet and at night.
  • Adjusts automatically to daylight savings.
  • “Manual mode” can allow the timer to operate like a normal switch.
  • “Random mode” can turn our lights on/off randomly when we’re out of town for added security (hah- all the neighbors and burglars will think we’re home, while we’re away).
  • Calculates and updates the sunset/sunrise time.  These can be used for our on/off times if we want.
  • Possibility to offset the sunset/sunrise for our on/off times.
  • Adjusts automatically to the actual sunset/sunrise times of your location within the time zone set, once you enter in the LAT/LONG where you live.  (They provide a chart for this in the instruction manual).
  • Up to 42 events (21 on/ 21 off) can be applied on a single day or repeat every day.

If you don’t have switched eave plugs, a programmable timer still might be useful for you.  It could be used to replace your existing switch controlling your exterior porch light or eave can lights, etc.  And, maybe getting this cool timer might be just enough motivation for me to buy some holiday eave lights for our house (at least the discounted ones on sale the day after Christmas).  :)

Where to buy one?

The home centers I went to didn’t have this type of programmable timer in stock, but I was able to find this one at an electrical supply house in Orem, UT called Electrical Wholesale Supply.  You could also shop for one online.

Cost Breakdown

  • Programmable thermostat ($42)
  • Not worrying about turning the Christmas lights on and off everyday (priceless)

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