How to Install a Timer Switch in Outdoor Lighting

timer switch
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 45
What You'll Need
Voltage tester
Wires strippers
Wire nuts
Timer switch
Electrical tape

Installing a timer switch in outdoor lighting is the same as installing an ordinary wall switch. A timer switch is an inexpensive device that automatically turns your outdoor lights ON or OFF according to your setting. Below are the materials that you need along with the instructions on how to install a timer switch in outdoor lighting.

Step 1 - Turn off the Main Power Supply

Inside the main electrical panel, locate the circuit breaker that feeds that power line or circuit and switch it OFF. If the circuit breaker is not identified, turn on all of your outdoor lights and get a friend to check and let you know when the lights go off as you switch OFF every breaker alternatively. Once you switch off the right circuit breaker and your outdoor lights are off, it would be a good idea and a good time to identify that breaker in the panel. For safety, make sure to inform everyone in the house that you are installing a timer switch and that no one should touch the circuit box until you are done. This is to protect yourself from any accidents.

Step 2 - Remove the Switch

Remove the faceplate of your outdoor light switch using a screwdriver. With that done, the switch can now be unscrewed and removed from the wall box. If there is only one cable going to that electrical box, you can rightfully assume that the mainline with the hot wire is feeding directly into the light fixture's electrical box with an extra wire used across the Hot wire and the fixture's middle contact terminal, before being routed to the switch box.

Step 3 - Remove the Wires

wires sticking out of a cable

Check the switch terminals for power using a voltage tester. The switch terminals are where the electrical wires are connected to the switch. If the voltage tester detects no power, remove the wires by loosening the terminal screws that connect the wires to the switch.

Step 4 - Cut the Wires

Cut the exposed wires with your wire stripper and make a fresh strip of bare wire about 1/2-inch long.

Step 5 - Connect the Timer Switch

For a timer switch with three wires that are identified by different colors: one wire is black, the other is white, and the remaining wire is green. The green wire is for the grounding. What you need to do now is connect the black wire on the timer switch to the black wire on the wall box using a wire nut. With another wire nut, connect the white wire on the timer switch to the white wire on the wall box. Finally, the green can be connected to the box.

Step 6 - Use the Electrical Tape

several rolls of different colored electrical tape

Electrical tape can then be wrapped around the wire nuts to secure them and prevent wire strands from short-circuiting.

Step 7 - Insert the Timer Switch in the Wall Box

Push the wires slowly into the box and insert the timer switch into the wall box as well. Secure the timer switch using the two screws included when you purchased your timer switch. Secure the faceplate back into place using the two screws you removed earlier.

Step 8 - Turn the Main Power Supply On

Turn on the circuit breaker that you turned off earlier on step 1 and test your timer switch. A mechanical timer switch will emits a ticking sound as the light is on. Once you hear this sound, then you have successfully installed your outdoor lighting timer switch.