Here is a cool gadget to further automate your home. Your hanging or wall lights near the front door, or garage, or the post light near the walkway need to be manually turned on and off. Sure, some people use motion sensor spot lights over their driveway and that is a nice feature that comes on only when you need it, but wouldn’t it be great if your lights came on every night at sunset and off at some specific time like 11:30 pm or at sunrise.
I found such a light switch from Honeywell that does exactly that, the EconoSwitch model RPLS470B 7-day solar time table programmable switch. It’s available at Amazon for $37.98 or Home Depot for $48.99. I found it reasonably easy to install. (Disclaimer and warning: if you are not capable and comfortable with replacing electrical switches, contact a licensed electrician.) The switch is elegant looking and very easy to program. It fits into a paddle switch cover opening and looks great next to a similarly sized paddle switch.
- First you enter the date and the longitude/latitude of your location so that the switch knows when the changing sunset and sunrise are every day of the year.
- Next, let the switch know if it needs to compensate for daylight savings time.
- Now program the ON/OFF times. The switch can be programmed to come on at a specific time or at sunset, +/- 10 minute increments. Since it’s not dark exactly at sunset and takes about 30 minutes to actually get dark, you might consider programming the switch to come on 20 minutes after sunset. You can also program it go off at specific time, such as midnight, though you can let it stay on until sunrise, again +/- 10 minute increments. The cool feature is letting the switch use sunset or sunrise to control your lights. If you’re not going to program this switch for either sunrise or sunset, you should just buy a less expensive programmable switch.
It seems they put considerable thought into the logic and operation of the switch. It does everything you need and probably everything you’d expect. Now there is no need to remember to turn on outside lights or turn them off. When you’re away for the weekend or on vacation, at least there are some lights coming on and the house is not totally dark.
The switch is only recommended for incandescent and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs with a maximum total wattage of 1800 watts. It is also a single pole switch, that is, you can only have one switch that operates your lights; if you can turn on your lights from two different switches, this will not work for your setup.