HELP! Timer for light switches?

I want to put some of my inside lights on a timer, so that instead of turning the light switch on I can turn a dial and the light will automatically shut off after a few minutes. My kids always leave the lights on so I'm hoping to be able to make the lights turn off themselves. I live in an apartment and can't make big holes in the walls, etc. How can I do it and about how much will it cost for 3 different light switches in 3 separate rooms? Thanks for your input!


I think it's important to teach kids to turn off the lights too, but, my last high electricity bill was incentive enough to find an alternative solution.

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    While I feel that you should probably persist and teach the kids to turn off the lights, I will suggest motion sensor switches to replace the existing light switch. These are the best things since sliced bread. They don't require any extra holes in the wall since they screw right into the same box as your existing switch.

    Basically, if someone is in the room, the light is on. If no movement is detected, they turn off in just a couple of minutes.

    BTW, the cost is minimal, about $14 per unit and will easily be recouped in electricity savings. You can easily install these yourself.

    Good luck.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Option one is to install a timer switch in each of the switch boxes

    Option two is also a new switch but would be an occupancy switch

    Depending on the lights or lamps that you have you could also go with some sort of motion detector. Home Desperate has these on a cord that you screw into an existing light socket. You mount the detector facing the entrace. These are kind of unsightly so use discretion. Best option would probably be a wound timer installed in the switch box...

    My favorite type of timer is the digital 24 hour type. These retail for about 49 bucks so they are a lot more pricey than a wound timer or cheap occupancy sensor. The advantage is you can program the time for a set interval and also have it set up for daylight savings and random cycling if you are on vacation. Makes it look like you are still at home to your "friendly neighbors".

    BTW your 14 dollar occupancy sensors pretty much stink. The good ones are about 70 dollars each. The cheaper ones cycle if you use them with any type of contactor or motor load...

  • 1 decade ago

    You can buy spring-wound timers which can replace your normal light switches. The maximum is usually 30 minutes (used to be easy to get them for longer periods of time, but I think they made them less easy to get because people were using them on saunas and jacuzzis and staying in way too long). They fit in the same spot that your light switch is mounted in now. I bought a few of them a number of years ago, and I think they are approx $15 or $20 each (Canada here). The only safe way to install them is to have power turned off, and of course it is safest to use an electrician or someone with electrical experience to install them.

    Great idea by the way!

    (we tried motion sensors in the kids' rooms at first, but of course it took them about 5 minutes to figure out that waving at the sensor every now and then would keep their lights on way past bedtime!)

    Source(s): Electrical Engineer
  • 1 decade ago

    There are several options. You can buy the timers that install right into your light switch, or the type that plug into your wall receptacle. Either one can be set for several hours at a crack. You could also buy motion sensors, but those usually don't stay on for very long.

    If you're just looking for economy, why not buy fluorescent light bulbs? They cast the same amount of light, and use probably 1/4 the amount of energy.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Forget about timer switches, just go buy some energy conservation florescent bulbs that burn very little in comparison to regular incandescent ones.

    They are a little more expensive (about $5.00 each) but they burn only about 20 to 25 percent of the equivalent wattage of the incandescent ones and they last for about five years .

    Go to Wall-mart or home depot and get a few to replace your regular light bulbs.

    You will save a lot in the long run.

  • 1 decade ago

    You should be able to buy timer switches that will fit into the box where your light switches are now. Just remove the switch, attach the wires to the timer and put it in. Last time I bought some they were about 25 bucks each.

  • mike b
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    You can buy timer switches at any hardware store. Just don't put any type of a timer on a florescent light. Florescent lights burn out quick if they are turned on and off frequently.

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