How to Use a Modern Light Timer to Increase Home Security
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Leave the Lights On: Use a Modern Light Timer to Increase your Home Security

By Bryan Black

Technology has come a long way since the days of the infamous mechanical outlet light timer.

You know, the one with that rotating dial that your dad put on the table lamp to make it look like someone was home when you’d all leave town on vacation.

These days, you can pick up plug-in digital light timers, or light switch digital light timers that provide advancements like random activation intervals to keep crooks guessing and an easy way to calculate Daylight Saving Time without having to reprogram them.

Light Timer info is fresh on my mind, with today being the first day of Daylight Saving Time and the fact that it’s taking me extra long to formulate the sentences in this article due to grogginess.

Hopefully one day DST will be no more, but I digress.

Light Timer Security

Exterior Lighting 05

Days like today are when having a digital light timer pays off in the convenience department, but the true asset that these devices provide is peace of mind knowing that your lights will always come on without you having to interact with them.

This is especially true if you replace your interior light switch that controls your porch, or exterior lights, with a programmable digital light timer switch.

Couple these inexpensive devices with LED bulbs and you’ll probably never have to worry about whether your lights come on at night ever again, or worry about the cost of running exterior or interior LED lights each day.

The primary reason you’d want to keep your lights on at night is that they eliminate hiding places for potential thieves. Thieves seek cover and concealment when committing a crime at night and lighting up the front of your home will only help to make your home a harder target.

If your home is being targeted, thieves will watch for patterns on multiple days. This is why it’s important to know the baseline of your neighborhood, so you can observe strange parked vehicles that don’t belong. The pattern crooks will observe is what vehicles your household utilizes, when you typically come and go, as well as the pattern of your lights.

While randomness in your lighting helps with this, even having your lights come on at the same time every day can be a pattern interrupter. If your lights come on at the same time every day, even when you’re home, there’s no way to know whether you’re home or not.

For those that have more telltale signs that there’s someone home, like a vehicle parked in the driveway, etc., a random option might be a better choice.

Light Timer Personal Recommendations

This article comes with my personal recommendation that both the plug-in and light switch versions of these light timers I’ve linked to, have worked for me.

Light Timer 06

I’ve purchased both the OKOKE Digital Programmable Timer Outlet for about $12 through Amazon and the Enerlites HET01 In-Wall Digital Programmable Timer Switch for around $18 on Amazon. Both of these ship Prime and can be on your door with 2-day shipping.

There’s a small learning curve with any timer device and these are no exception. However, once you’ve learned them, they’re fairly intuitive. I still recommend keeping a set of instructions around, just in case you have to reference them.

While there are IoT (Internet of Things) devices available that serve similar functions, the light timers I’ve linked to don’t have the potential of being hacked.

Light Timer 01

One last benefit of these specific timers, is that they both have internal battery backups to save your settings if the power goes out. This has happened to me and my settings were saved.

I can’t comment on how long the battery backups last in each device, as I haven’t experienced a power loss long enough to find out and haven’t yet thrown the breaker to test that. Now that I write this though, I do have the bug to plan on testing that.

The more you can do to make your home a harder target, the less chance a potential thief will target your home. For more information on how you can increase your home security, check out our article on Running a DIY Home Security Assessment.

Opening Image Credit: Jana Perenchio

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