How to Set a Plug Timer

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Exterior light (Photo: @statusdog via Twenty20)
A plug timer is a handy device that lets you set the time your lights (or anything else plugged into the outlet) turns on or off. Plug timers are usually utilized by people going away on trips. If a home remains dark for nights on end (especially over popular times to travel), it could be targeted by burglars.
Light timers turn the lights on at night so it appears like the residents of a home are there when they’re actually sipping Pina Coladas a thousand miles away.
Are you going on a trip? Here’s how to set a plug timer.

Connect the timer

A plug timer needs to be directly plugged into the outlet and the electrical device you want to time. It’s important to note that using extension cords with a plug timer is not recommended.

Turn the timer on

Most plug timers come set to “Outlet On” by default; this means that the timer is not activated, and they will function as a regular outlet. To set the timer, switch the setting to “Timer On.”

Set the time

For the outlet to know when to turn things on and off, it will have to know the local time. Most plug timers have a dial clock. Turn the dial until the arrow hand reaches the current time.

Set the on and off times

Usually a plug timer has pins surrounding the hour dial. You can press down these pins to set the window of time you want your lights on. For example, if you want your hallway light to be on from 7 PM to 6 AM, make sure the pins between 7 PM and 6 AM are pressed down.

Connect your device

The last thing you need to do is connect your device to the outlet located within the plug timer. You will need to ensure that the device you connect is on for the timer to work correctly — for example, if you plug in a lamp, you have to ensure it is switched on. If the device you connect is off, the timer won’t be able to turn it on.
Lastly, double-check that your plug timer is set to “Timer” instead of “Always-On.”

Plug timer tips

Here are some helpful tips for using and storing your plug timer.
When not using the timer: Make sure to keep it in a safe, dry place inside the house. Leaving your timer out in the open and exposed to the elements can cause some long-term damage.
Never connect your plug timer to heat-inducing devices: Connecting your timer to devices like irons, heaters, and cooking appliances can be extremely dangerous.
Avoid using extension cords: extension cords allow you to connect multiple devices to the same timer, which can cause you to exceed its maximum output current rating.
When in doubt, read the instructions: Your timer should come with a set of instructions and safety guidelines. If you feel unsure about your timer’s do’s and don’ts, turn to the manual for more detailed guidance.