Your Guide To Buying an Outlet Timer
An outlet timer is useful in a number of ways. They can be programmed to turn appliances off and on at specified times. If you are expecting to leave your house for days at a time, you can use an outlet timer to turn the lights on and off. This way, burglars will think that there are people in the house. And they can also help you save electricity—you can use it to turn on an electric heater, fan or air conditioner, and turn it off after a certain amount of time. But there are quite a few outlet timers available, with some nifty features. Here is a guide to some of the best outlet timers on the market.
Outlet Timer Types
Mechanical Timers: These can either have a series of pins that you can attach or detach to turn the current on or off. There are also timers with a series of tabs or sliders that you position to turn current on and off. They are usually marked in intervals of 15 minutes. So you can set an appliance to be on for 15 minutes, and then automatically turn off.
Digital Timers: These will typically have a LCD display. They have a set of buttons for setting the “on” and “off” times.
Countdown timers: There are timers that turn off the electricity after a fixed period of time. (The user can’t change these intervals.) For example, the Belkin Conserve Socket Energy-Saving Outlet turns off electricity after 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours. Also, the GE MyTouchsmart Indoor Plug-In Digital Timer has a “countdown” feature. It will also turn off the electricity after a pre-programmed amount of time.
24-hour timers/7-day timers: These are timers that are programmable for 24 hours at a time. They can be either mechanical or digital. There are also 7-day timers, which store on/off times for each day for an entire week.
What People Are Saying
Based on all the consumers’ reviews we’ve scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about their new stuff:
Uses: There are all sorts of devices that must be operated on a regular basis. With an outlet timer, all these things can be performed automatically. People use these timers for hydroponics, to know when to add nutrients to their plants. Some use it for turning the lights on and off in an aquarium, to give their fish the sense of the passing of day and night. They can also use these timers for fans, heaters, and air conditioners. It will save a lot of money on electricity costs. You won’t have to worry about forgetting turning these appliances off when you leave.
More than one outlet: The Intermatic DT620 has two outlets. So you can plug in two devices at once. (But the timer will turn both devices on and off at the same time.)
Useful Tips for Shoppers
Power allowance: You don’t want to hook an appliance onto the timer if it consumes too much energy. It can lead to a power outage, or damage the outlet timer. For example, if you want to use an outlet timer to turn on a radiator or air conditioner that run on 1 kilowatt, make sure that the timer is rated for appliances that consume 1 or 2 kilowatts.
Backup power: Some timers have a backup battery feature that can keep the timer running for up to 100 days. This is useful in the event that there is a power outage—the timer will still keep track of the proper time, instead of being hopelessly behind until you take note of it and reset the clock. This is also handy if you put the timer in a different outlet—it will still keep time.
Random feature: Some timers have a “random” feature: they turn your appliances off and on randomly. This gives the impression to a potential burglar that there is someone in the house.
Number of on/off cycles: The GE MyTouchsmart Indoor Plug-In Digital Timer allows for only a single on/off cycle. On the other hand, the Enover 15A/1800W 7-day Programmable Plug-in Digital Timer Switch can be set for 10 on/off cycles per day, for a seven-day period. The Intermatic DT620 Heavy Duty Indoor Digital Plug-In Timer allows for 28 on/off cycles over the course of a day!
Belkin— was founded in 1983 in Playa Vista, California, by Chet Pipkin, as a computer cable company. They are part of Belkin International, which includes also the companies Linksys (who makes wireless connectivity products) and WeMo (who makes products for a “smart home”). They also make a series of chargers, surge protectors, and outlet timers.
Woods—is an maker of electrical products, programmable timers and outlet controls. They were founded in 1929, and are located in Mississauga, Ontario. They also produce apps that allow you to automate your home.
Intermatic—is a maker of electrical timer units and controls. They are located in Spring Grove, Illinois. They were founded in 1891, as makers of portable streetcar fare registers. Over the years, they have expanded to making mechanical, electric and electronic time switches and controls, as well as sensors and surge protectors.
Enover—are makers of programmable plug-in timers. Their timers can be programmed for weeks at a time, to turn appliances off and on up to 10 times a day.
Comforday—are makers of a number of electric home appliances. They make steam cleaners, lanterns, dehumidifiers, and outlet timers.