21 Sep How to Select a Landscape Lighting Timer
Feel welcomed home every time you arrive after a long day without wasting money or energy. It’s not magic – it’s about using the right equipment. The simplest of items, a timer, can make all the difference. You can reduce light pollution, save energy and money, while making your home look beautiful and safe long into the evening. Also, for those early risers who beat the sun to its post, a timer can improve the start of your day. Follow our guide to make sure you select the right style of timer for your landscape lighting system.
When it comes to finding the right timer for your system you’ll want to weigh function and cost. Obviously, the more efficient the function the greater the timer will cost – the trick is to find the right balance.
- Clock Timer – The least expensive option, is also the most manual. With a traditional clock timer you control your light system by placing start and stop prongs at the hours you want your lights to turn on and off. The timer is a manual, analog clock face that is open so you can make changes to your system if there is a power outage or daylight savings. Most of the available options are analog, but there are digital options. The digital versions are more expensive without any true added value, so we wouldn’t recommend it.
- Dusk/Dawn Sensors or Photocells – This option is certainly more efficient than traditional clock timers because they respond to the sun, but they do pose a slight installation problem. While you don’t have to worry about continuing to reprogram your timer, you do need to install the photocell outside. For some outdoor light systems this isn’t an issue, but if your transformer is mounted in the garage, you’ll have to run wires outside to the photocell, then back to the transformer in order for it to work properly.
- Combo – Now the best of both worlds was certainly the best option – up until recently. You could install the photocell to ensure your lighting would turn on and off based on the location of the sun, but then use a clock timer to reduce excessive energy use. With the clock timer you could set the prongs to have the system turn off around 11pm, and then allow the power to return around 4am until the sun was registered by the photocell to shut the system down for the day. While this would double to cost of your investment, it does offer efficiency and value. It would be our recommendation, if the next selection didn’t exist.
- Bluetooth Timer – Certainly the best selection, the bluetooth timer is our first recommendation; especially, if your landscape light system utilizes multiple transformers. With a mesh bluetooth timer you can install the product once, and then control your entire system using an app on your smartphone. Neither daylight savings time nor a power outage will derail your system because it is controlled electronically. With that flexibility you can save energy and illuminate your home beautifully with a tap of a touch screen.
- Integrated Transformer – To be fair, there is one more option for buyers, a commercial grade transformer with an integrated timer and/or photocell. On the surface an integrated system seems like a dream come true. You can buy one product that meets all your needs. The issue presents itself when you compare the life span of the timer or photocell compared to the life span of the commercial grade transformer. Integrated timers last an average of 3 years, while transformers are designed to last a lifetime. So for 3 years the integrated system is perfect, until the timer goes out…then you’ll be purchasing one of the four options above anyway. So you’ll end up paying extra for the integrated system and then paying additionally for either the clock timer, photocell, or bluetooth timer when the less reliable portions of the integration stop working.
Have complete control over your landscape light system, so you can determine when to save energy and when to enjoy a welcoming atmosphere.