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Whether you’re away on vacation or you just installed outdoor lights, having an electrical outlet timer can make your life a lot easier in a variety of ways. Here’s everything you need to know.
Electrical Outlet Timer Buying Guide
The best electrical outlet timers are great to own if you want them for security reasons or to regulate energy costs, making sure that nighttime appliances and electrical gear like humidifiers and heaters shut down in the morning, or just making sure the TV switches off after you fall asleep. Some units take the extra step of monitoring the energy consumption of the device that’s plugged into it, and can keep a running record of the stats for years or even decades.
Many new picks let you set multiple time periods or a regular recurring schedule. The old-school dial models are still available, but modern timers mostly have LCD screens now, displaying clear numbers to make no mistakes when programming it. It’s a little more complex to learn than a click-wheel timer, so if you’re not a tech-savvy person or have little patience to deal with it, a manual analog model may be the better option. For the opposite end of the tech spectrum, smart timers are compatible with your Alexa and Google Home, and may not even have a screen or dial at all, since it’ll be programmed through an accompanying app or remote.
If you’re looking to use this outdoors or to regulate appliances that’ll be outside, you’ll need one that has grounded outlets and is protected against shorting out. It’s not just for gardening gear like pumps and grow lights (though they work great for those) — instead, think holiday lights, or even setting up a backyard projector. It’s also a good idea to go for one with a built-in surge protector if you’ll be plugging in expensive or important items, to protect them at all costs.
Timers even have the option of their own individual settings for different days of the week, and separate commands for different outlets. And if this will be part of your permanent setup, options that screw into the wall for added stability are a strong choice.
Some are more precise than others, so if you’ll need it to be accurate down to the minute (or even the second), be sure to check how deeply it can pinpoint.
What Are the Best Electrical Outlet Timers?
We found the best electrical outlet timers that can save you time, money and the headaches of keeping track of managing multiple appliances all over the house, whether you’re home or away.
1. Nearpow Dual Digital Light Timer
This thick beast of a timer may look intimidating, but it’s got clearly labeled buttons and a big LED screen to make programming easier than a lot of its competitors.
The NearPow offers two independently controlled outlets here, and is programmable down to the second. There’s also up to 15 preset options, and can be set for a max of seven days out. It’s a reliable and recommended unit for things like aquariums and regulating modems and routers too. It also runs quietly, lacking the annoying hissing and clicking that can come with some timers.
2. BN-LINK Digital Programmable Timer
The BN-Link’s LCD screen is easy to operate, including eight different programmable settings which can be as short as a minute or multiple days on end. There’s two grounded outlets here, and a backup battery that saves your settings in case of a power outage. This also features a vacation mode that randomizes turning lights on and off each day you’re away, to make your house look like someone’s always home.
3. Powrui Smart Power Strip With Outlet Extender
If you’re looking to go completely screen-free on a timer, this four-armed option from Powrui will get the job done through your phone. Each outlet can be controlled individually, it’s compatible with your smart-home through AI assistants like Alexa and Google Home, and can operate through voice control too. It’s also fireproof, IP44 weatherproof and can be used outside even in extreme temperatures.
4. BN-LINK Smart WiFi Outdoor Outlet
Another good option from BN-Link here, this time for outdoor appliances as well. The BN-Link can handle large appliances, and is IP44-rated to stand up to wet and cold weather. This features three smart outlets, compatible with Alexa and Google AI, and can be operated by your phone or voice commands when linked with your smart-home system over a 2.4GHz WiFi connection. While the outlets don’t operate independently, the unit can handle up to 30 on and off commands each day. Setting it up takes a few steps in the app, and the timer can be programmed there too.