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Installing an Electronic Timer Switch

It is fairly simple to replace a standard wall light switch with a timer switch. Following are instructions for how to affix a timer that has a neutral white wire. If your timer has no such wire, follow the instructions outlined in How to Install a Dimmer Switch.

Versatile heavy-duty timer can control fluorescent or incandescent lights, motors, and more. Photo: Intermatic

Wiring a timer switch is just like wiring a regular light switch or dimmer.  Photo: Intermatic

1Make sure the electricity is shut off to the circuit. Remove the cover plate and the existing light switch.

2Divide all the wire ends so that they are not in contact with one another or with the switch box.

3Turn the power back on to the circuit and use a voltage tester to test the pairs of black and white wires. (The wires that cause the tester to glow are the wires that supply the box with power.)

4Turn the power off again. Begin splicing the wires in the box together with the leads of the timer switch, starting with the green ground wire and green ground lead (if there is a green wire and lead) and continuing on to the neutral white wire and white lead.

5Next, splice the “hot” wires, the box’s black wire to the switch’s black lead. Splice the final switch lead to the other black wire in the box.

6Tuck all the wires into the switch box, and screw the timer switch onto the wall.

7Finally, screw the cover plate back into place, then turn the power to the circuit back on.

About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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