Auto On / Auto Off
Wall Timer Switches
Your intended use of wall timers determines whether or not you want timers with on/off functionality, or merely auto off. For example, auto off timers can be great for workplaces: You can set the lights to run for a desired amount of time and know they will shut off after everyone leaves. In the morning, the first person to arrive can turn the lights on. This is great for both security and footprint, and auto off timers represent a great way to incorporate programmable lighting into your home or business without going fully automated.
Digital Timers with Dimming Capability
Everyone loves dimmers, not just because they allow you to use the most flattering light possible: They also lower your electricity bill. Dual timer/dimmers maximize your ability to light your home efficiently by programming your lights to turn on and off and allowing you to dim them.
Astronomical Timers (Astro-What's It?)
Welcome to the age of lighting automation. Astronomical - or "astro" timers - have internal atomic clocks that self-adjust to turn lights on and off in accordance with sunup and sunset. The coolest thing about astro timers is that they eliminate the need to program your digital timers. They even self-adjust for daylight saving's time. Human error has been removed from timing your landscape lights. And your sprinkler system. And any other medium-load electrical needs.
For Security As Well As Footprint
Lighting timers have long been used to deter burglars from capitalizing on your absence. However, as any viewer of the movie HOME ALONE knows, even burglars as dimwitted as the Wet Bandits can recognize that a home's lights are turning on and off at the same time every day. For that reason, many programmable timers have a random function, creating the effect of a human being - in all our inconsistency - controlling the lighting, rather than a sophisticated lighting automation system.
Digital timers also allow you consume less energy and therefore save money. Whether it is because we want a bright future for our grandkids' grandkids or just want to limit the stream of money flowing out of bank accounts and into our sprinkler systems (and, by the way, these two are far from mutually exclusive), more people are incorporating some level of automation into their lighting and electrical needs in the home and at work.
Most of us are familiar with plug-in timers: We have used them for years to program our lamps, either for security or convenience. However, plug-in timers can also be used to control outdoor electronic mechanisms like landscape lighting, holiday lights, floodlights, and sprinkler systems. They are also great for controlling electronics, lamps, and appliances. Automatic plug-in timer switches are extremely versatile: They can be moved around inside and outside the house with ease, and this is the main difference you should consider when deciding what kind of timer you need.