How to install timers for outside lights


  #1  
Old 12-08-14, 03:17 PM
V
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 21
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How to install timers for outside lights

I have a 3 gang 3 toggle light switch on the inside of the house right by the front door. The configuration is as follows:

Left Toggle: Outside spot lights
Middle Toggle: Inside foyer lights
Right Toggle: Outside light fixture

When it's night time, I like the Left & Right switches on, which enables all the lighting outside.

I looked into getting a timer to automatically turn the lights on and off when it's night time, like this one: Honeywell Econoswitch RPLS740B 7-Day Solar Time Table Programmable Switch for Lights and Motors - Wall Light Switches - Amazon.com

The problem is, I'd need a wall plate that has the large openings on the left and right but a toggle in the middle. I've not been able to find a plate like this. Also it would be weird to have 1 timer for each of the two outside lights. Ideally I want one timer / switch to control *all* the lights outside. Even if I did figure the wiring out, I'd have to somehow reduce the hole in the wall from a 3gang to 2gang and I'm not sure how to do that either.

I'm not an electrician and I'm a new home owner, so still learning and I don't know much. Could anyone give me some advice on how to properly setup my outside lights on a timer?
 
  #2  
Old 12-08-14, 04:24 PM
P
Temporarily Suspended
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 10,982
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The cover plate is the final step. You have to start with mounting the gang box or boxes, in the easiest way possible. If the size, of the opening has to be changed, the dry wall is cut to size after the boxes are mounted.
 
  #3  
Old 12-08-14, 04:26 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,964
Likes: 0
Received 9 Likes on 8 Posts
The wall plate thingy can be solved by changing the middle switch to a decora design, which is the same as the timers. Now to the sad news. Unless you have a neutral in the switch box all bets are off. This switch requires a neutral, and normally switches don't provide that. Can you look in the switch box with the power off and tell us if there are any bundled white wires behind the switches? A picture of the box with all the switches pulled away, but still connected would help, too.
 
  #4  
Old 12-08-14, 04:36 PM
V
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 21
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I will work on doing that for you (the photo). I do recall some having bare copper wire (in other panels, especially the ones that control bedroom light + fan), I thought this was a ground. Is that the same as neutral? I have to check if this one has the same.
 
  #5  
Old 12-08-14, 04:42 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
Bare copper is ground not neutral. If there is a neutral you will have two or more white wires connected only to each other. Whites on a switch are not neutral. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...rt-images.html
 
  #6  
Old 12-08-14, 04:45 PM
V
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 21
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Without removing the actual switches, I just took off the wall plate and took some zoomed in high-res pictures of the wires behind them. I see several white wires (doesn't appear to be used; if you look closely you will see them joined together) and also the bare copper wire.

Hopefully these help you. If you really need me to take off the switches I can, but I don't want to mess it up too bad until I know what I'm going to do with it.

(Link to images below; i didn't embed them so you could visit there to see the high res versions)
http://imgur.com/a/8psP1
 
  #7  
Old 12-08-14, 05:15 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,964
Likes: 0
Received 9 Likes on 8 Posts
You have neutral, so you can install the switch in accordance to their instructions.
 
  #8  
Old 12-08-14, 05:24 PM
V
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 21
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for confirming. Is it possible to combine the left and right switches to one, so that a single timer controls both?
 
  #9  
Old 12-08-14, 05:42 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
Is it possible to combine the left and right switches to one, so that a single timer controls both?
Yes. There should be a 2-conductor cable (white and black) whose black wire goes to all three switches. Is that correct?
 
  #10  
Old 12-08-14, 05:54 PM
V
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 21
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I believe you are correct. Do I use 1 hot (red) and 2 black wires on the single switch?
 
  #11  
Old 12-08-14, 07:35 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
If this is your current wiring then use the second diagram for the timer.

Name:  x.jpg
Views: 177
Size:  27.1 KB

Name:  xx.jpg
Views: 192
Size:  31.6 KB
Assumes the red wire of your timer is load. Veify with the instructions included with your timer.

A blank plate replaces the the switch you are removing. While supply house might be able to supply two Decor and a toggle switch plate easiest may be to change the remaining switch to Decor.

Name:  Untitled.jpg
Views: 135
Size:  16.7 KB
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-08-14 at 09:11 PM.
  #12  
Old 12-09-14, 08:53 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 15,397
Received 155 Likes on 137 Posts
You could also rearrange the switches so the toggle is on the end.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: