Month: July 2019

Can LED bulbs be used with a timer? Timer Switch for LED,energy saving CFLs &

Timer switches are necessary for turning lights on automatically – whether your not home or just want the have them turn on and off automatically.

Can you use a timer switch with LED or low energy light bulbs.

With the replacement of traditional incandescent bulbs with new low energy CFL and LED bulbs We often get asked by  many people with built in timers why they experience flickering or LEDs remaining on.  We will attempt to explain why timer switches can be used with energy saving bulbs and LEDS,  and how you can resolve the issue in this article.  We will explain (briefly) how electrical timers work first and what causes the flickering.

How Electrical timer switches work.

Electrical timer switches require power to operate.  Light switch timers (eg. those that replace a standard light switch) don’t have a direct power connection.  The draw power to keep the timer ticking over is by passing a very small current through the light bulb.

The filament in old style bulbs passes the small current without any problems and the current isn’t high enough to light the bulb.  the timer simply use the resistance of the filament of an incandescent lightbulb as part of the timer circuitry.

Timer switch CFL energy saving Flickering

CFL bulbs do not have a resistance characteristic to offer the timer – (they are inductive).  The typical electronic timer reaction is to switch itself rapidly on and off due to the inductive element charging and discharging.

Timer switch, LEDS, dimly lit

In the case of LEDs, the small current is enough to produce light with LEDs, meaning they are dimly lit and stay on.  That is why the many timer switches therefore typically require a minimum load in order to operate.  this is usually 40w or more.

This also has the additional issue of the fuse in the timer switch blowing each time the light bulb blows requiring you to turn off the mains before replacing the fuse.

So how can you use a timer switch with your energy saving bulbs?Timer energy saving bulbs flicker

So what can you do?  there are a number of options available,
Get a large resistor.
Some timer switch manufacturers offer a larger external resistor which can be fitted between the bulb and the switch allowing them to operate bulbs of 20W.  these will not fit behind the switch and need to be wired into the ceiling.
Use old bulbs or more bulbs.
With CFLs you could try increasing the number of bulbs so if you have 3 bulbs of 15w you can meet the minimum load requirements of the timer switch.

A timer which works with Energy saving bulbs, LED’s or CFL

There is another solution which does work with all types of bulb – The light switch timer which mechanically operates the light switch and so can be used with any LED or CFL type bulb.

The light switch timer simply operates the existing light switch mechanically as you would with your finger.  This has the advantage that it does not matter what type of light bulb or LED you use you will not have any issues. In addition it does not require any wiring as it is a retro fit solution fitting over the existing switch.

CLF LED Timer siwtch light

How do I secure my house when on holiday?

Checklist of how to keep your home safe whilst you are away.  The following will give you some tips on how best to keep your home safe so you Don’t return from a fantastic few weeks away in the sun to realise your home has been burgled?

It’s easy to forget what you’re leaving behind in the excitement of going away and were all guilty of doing this including me. Were in such a rush to get our sunglasses on, sit on a plane and enjoy the luxuries of a well earned well needed break in the sun that we overlook what’s most important to us, our homes security. 78% of burglaries take place when nobody is at home.

Home security holiday Checklist

  • Locks – Double lock everything
  • Keys – Hide them away
  • Lights – put them on a timer
  • Alarm – Arm it
  • Neighbours  – Let them know
  • Post – make sure its not visible & piling up
  • Garden – trim it before you go.
  • Bins – make sure they are empty and put away neatly
  • Car – get a neighbour to park in the drive
  • Safe – Put valuables inside it
  • Plugs – Switch off unnecessary appliances.
  • Heating – Turn it off

Leaving your home empty

A home that looks unoccupied presents an irresistible temptation for thieves and measures must be taken to prevent this temptation from ever materialising. In an ideal world we have a neighbour or relative keep a watchful eye and house sit from time to time. If this isn’t possible precautions must be taken to give a perception the house is not empty. Your first priority should be to cancel any deliveries you may have coming to your house, i.e. milk or newspapers. A build up of uncollected post and deliveries gives a clear sign that your home is unoccupied, enticing individuals we would rather keep away.

An old habit of ours is to draw the curtains so nobody can see inside our home, and though this prevents having people look through our windows we soon realised it does pose as a big sign saying this house is empty. Blinds can often be a discreet compromise.

To truly give an illusion your home is occupied the use of lighting can act as a great deterrent to burglary.

If someone thinks that you’re at home they will think twice about entering it. Light switch timers are a must. They can be used to switch on your lights around your home according to your specified settings. Simple yet highly effective; the feature allows you to pre-programme light timing sessions, so unlike most timing switches the lights do not turn on at the same timetabled daily time. This makes it even more difficult for any individual to assess what times the home is unoccupied, let alone know you’re out on a beach without any care in the world!

It may be obvious but making sure your locks and alarms are secure and working can deter a burglar. The harder it is to gain entry into your home the more reluctant they will be to enter. The last resort for a thief would be to break in through a window or a door. This creates unwanted noise and attention alerting your neighbours or passers-by, not to mention triggering your burglar alarm. Therefore installing or upgrading good quality window locks are required and strong secure exterior locks will defiantly not do you any harm.

Finally ensuring your home is fully insured has multiple benefits, not just in the event of a burglary but also fires and floods. If something unexpected happens you can rest assured that you are fully covered and will be compensated for any damage or theft that happens in your absence.

To summarise don’t present an opportunity for someone to ruin your holiday! Take precautions and prepare yourself so you won’t find any nasty surprises when you return to your home.

The cost of a burglary goes way beyond the monetary loss

A dampening reality sets in when your home is broken into. There’s no ideal time to have your home burgled but to return home and find its happened can leave an empty feeling in the pit of your stomach. “Why did my neighbours not hear anything”. “How did this happen, why did this happen to me”. “Did I do everything in my power to prevent it happening before I left”. Within a few moments all the serenity of being on holiday is washed away and the empty pit in your stomach is filled with a deep regret and stress as you work to pick up the broken pieces again. Not what we envisioned a holiday would do for us. So what can we do? It’s pretty simple and cost effective.

Protect your home this summer holiday

Do You Leave Lights On For Your Dog?

Whether you leave a light on for your pet will very much depend on your dog and what they have become used to.  Social dogs often don’t like to be left alone in the dark whilst others don’t really mind.

Should I Leave Lights On For My Dog When I’m Out?

Leaving lights on for a dog Light

Many pet owners leave the TV, radio, or lights on for their pets while they are away from home. Commons reasons to use a pet light include keeping the animal calm, giving them a sense of company, or helping them to see.

Some dog owners say that their pets are afraid of the dark. This will only apply to a small number of dogs, but there is an easy way to tell if your dog is afraid of the dark. If they are more startled by outside noises during the night than they are during the day, then there is a good chance that they are afraid of the dark. Add this factor with being alone in the house and you may have quite an unhappy chum!

Although some owners leaves lights on for their dogs to see in the dark, it is true that dogs have much better vision in low light than humans. This is because of a part of their eyes called the tapetum, which makes them far more reflective. This gives the retina a second chance to absorb light.

Just because they can see well in low light however, doesn’t mean that they can see in pitch black. If there is no light whatsoever in your home at night, then your dog may well have trouble seeing. They have good memories however, and will probably be able to navigate through the house even without being able to see very much, (just don’t move any furniture before you leave the house!)

Do dogs need a light on at night?

One concern about leaving lights on is disrupting the dogs sleeping pattern. Wolves are the ancestors of the domesticated dog, which were of course nocturnal. This means that lights shouldn’t stop your dog from being able to sleep, but it might be an idea to consider leaving some of the house in darkness for them.

There is no steadfast answer to this question, and it depends very much on your own pet. Other factors to consider are the power savings from leaving the lights off, (although one burglary would probably more than wipe out a lifetime of energy savings), and the increased security benefits of leaving some lights on during the night. You know your pet better than anyone else so experiment with different lighting conditions and see what you think he or she responds to best.

Many people don’t like to leave lamps on though as they are prone to being knocked over and causing a fire risk.  so if you do want to leave a light on, a good solution is to invest in a timer for your main lights so the lights can come on when it gets dark, saving you money whilst keeping the dog happy.

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Best Programmable Light Switch Timers

With the wide variety of timers on the market, how do you know which is the best for you.

What timer light switch should you buy?

Interior lighting is used as a deterrent as it gives the appearance of the residents still being home.   It is so effective that UK police forces recommend people leave lights on when they are away from home. But what is the best timer light switch to buy?

Timer light switches work by deterring intruders from targeting their home in the first place, but it may also alert neighbours and passers-by to suspicious activity in the event of a break-in. Studies show that burglars are far less likely to target a house if it seems that people may be at home.

Why use a timer light switch anyway?

Internal security lighting is therefore based around the idea of making it look like the home is occupied. This is achieved by the use of timers to simulate the lighting patterns of people at home. You can keep it simple by having lights turn on and off every few hours, or plan a more realistic lighting sequence.

Remember that whichever type of security lighting you choose, it is still important to complement it with a high quality alarm system. Lights are not a replacement for a house alarm. With that being said, let’s quickly make sense of each type of internal security lighting, and go over some advantages and disadvantages of each.

Best light timer switch

Lamps, how effective are they?

Plug in Timers

This is probably the most common type of timer you will have come across. The timer device is simply plugged into the wall socket, and then you plug your lamp (or any other mains appliance), into the timer. These tend to be cheap and easy to use. Most of them now have digital interfaces, but analogue timers are still available. Although these tend to be one of the easiest to install of all the different type of timers, they are also one of the most inflexible. You are limited to only using lights that you can plug into a wall socket. This is ideal if you regularly use lamps in your home but may in fact be a tale tell sign to a burglar that no one is home if they see a solitary dimply lit lamp left on.  Small plugged in lamps may not be enough to deter a potential burglar.

Mains Wired Timers

Timer plug

best timer switch plug

These timers are slightly more advanced than the plug timers. They are actually wired in to a light socket, meaning your main lights can be set  on a timer. These are digitally controlled and allow you to create very intricate on-off patterns for your lights. The biggest drawback is these types of timers is they require you to perform rewiring of the switch, which takes some time and expertise. They can be a good option if you are regularly set your lights on a timer and know how to do basic wiring. These types of timer cannot be used with energy saving light bulbs or LED’s and most require a neutral wire to be present in order to be installed.

Light Bulb timers

If want to control your main lights but don’t know how to do any wiring, then light bulb holders are a viable alternative. Instead of inserting a timer at the wall socket, you install it into the light fitting itself and insert the bulb into the timer. These operate on a dusk-till-dawn basis. They are not customisable as there is no control interface. These are ideal if you have a light fitting with a single bayonet Light bulb type fitting. They will require you to actually get up on ladders to install or remove them. Many people have also reported they do not work correctly if used with a lamp shade.

Light Switch Timer

The Light Switch Timer that allows you to control your main lights. It is very similar to a timer plug expect it is fitted over the light switch on the wall. The device simply slots over the top of your existing switch and as it is battery operated requires no wiring to install. The seven day timer allows you to program when you want your lights to come on and off on different days of the week to create a realistic “lived in” look. It is the only timer which can be used with any type of light bulb and on single double or triple switches. The only disadvantage is that it cannot be used with dimmer type switches. Obviously in our opinion it is the best timer light switch available.

Summary of Timers

  Plug Timer Mains Wired Timer Light Bulb Holder Unwired Light Switch Timer
Installation No wiring, easy to install. Requires wiring to install.Replaces existing light switch. No wiring, but requires ladders to install. No wiring, slots over existing switch with minor adjustment.
Programming Digital or analogue, can be fully customisable. Usually fully customisable. Not programmable.Automatic dusk-till-dawn setting. Fully programmable.
Removal No wiring, just unplug. Requires wiring so cannot be removed quickly. No wiring, but requires ladders. No wiring, only loosening of screws required.
Overall Rating ***
Can only be used with plugged in devices.
****
Excellent for security, but Limited application.
***
Not programmable and requires ladders.
*****
Fully programmable, easy to install and remove.

Review and summary of best timer switch?

Each has its pros and cons but – for most people not wanting to rewire or using LEDs or multi gang switches will find the best solution obvious.

Whichever timer you should choose you want to make sure you home looks realistically occupied and the timer meets your needs in terms of ease of installation and performance.

How To Stay Safe When You Go On Holiday – Home Security Tips

Holidays are a time to relax and unwind.  So here are a few tips to help you relax on holiday by ensuring your home is left safe and secure and keep to help keep you and your family safe whilst you are there.

Holiday checklist

Holiday planning

Before you go.

Lock up and double lock the doors.

Hide any keys you keep in the house especially your car keys

Do the obvious fridge emptying and turning off all unused appliance.

Set your light switch timer to make your home look occupied.

Ask a neighbour to park a car in your driveway

Going by plane.

Take pictures of your passport on your phone

Take a picture of the back of your credit cards so you have to contact number of your credit card provider in case you loose them

If your like me and don’t recall peoples mobile numbers any more it is a good idea to write down key contact numbers for people back home in case you loose your phone

Keep paper copies of your tickets in a separate location to your passports.

When your there

Ward off jet lag by eating less on the plane and changing your clock as soon as you get on the plane – Being alert when you arrive will keep you safe

I always try to eat some local yogurt as soon as I arrive.  Not sure of the science but they say the local live bacteria helps avoid tummy trouble.

Don’t keep all your valuables in one place.  I always keep a money belt for my really important valuables.  That is my passports, one credit card and some cash.  Do this once you clear customs.

Taxis.  Never put your stuff in the boot while the driver is sat in the driver’s seat. Ask him to give you a hand.

Have a great holiday!!