Darlin’ Leave a Light on for Me – Automating Your Porch Lights

Remember that Belinda Carlisle song Leave a Light On?  Boy does that bring back memories…

“Darlin’ leave a light on for me, I’ll be there before you close the door to give you all the love that you need…”

Ok maybe you don’t – I might have just dated my musical tastes. I don’t know about you but I love having my porch lights on when I come home in the evening or just for security reasons when we’re not home or even if we are!  Thing is, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to turn them off only to have them on the entire night and day!  In fact, truth be told, my neighbor has her porch lights on 24/7 and the little eco-monster in me just wants to help her automate her lights to save some electricity!

Realistically, who wants to remember to turn on and turn off their porch lights everyday?  I certainly don’t.  Enter the Honeywell Light Switch Programmable Timer.  There are a bunch of other brands of programmable light switches – I personally went with this one because it was only about $20 and Honeywell is a pretty reputable brand.


Some little things to note about this switch:

  • You will need a white neutral wire in your switch outlet to install it (most newer homes will have this)
  • There is a newer version of this switch (I got the older one)
  • It does not come with a switch plate so if you have a toggle switch like me, you’ll need to get new plates
  • This switch does not work in a 3 way switch.  So if you can turn off your lights from multiple locations, this switch will not work for you
  • This switch will allow you to enter in 7 different programs (each program can be set to run everyday – so technically you can have your lights turned on/off 7 times a day everyday although that might be overkill)

Ok now that we have those little notes out of the way, let’s jump into actually getting it into your wall!  Installing this was quite honestly a breeze (BUT as a precaution – if you are NOT comfortable with doing electrical, please stop right here and get an electrician please).

Step one – safety first always – turn off your electricity at your breaker.  I typically turn on the light, head to my breaker to turn it off and swing back to check that the light did go out.  Then I basically unscrewed the existing switch, TEST that the wires aren’t live, and take a picture of your existing setup – this step is muchos important – before removing them.  In my case, I had to make sure I made note of which black wire were on the top and which were on the bottom since I have 2 black wires instead of a black and blue.

Now that you have your existing switch removed, stop and admire the hole in your wall with wires hanging out and wonder how you went from not knowing anything about electrical to swapping out switches.  Ok wait, that’s just me.  Carry on.

Step two – wire your switch according to instructions.  Basically the black wire goes to the line in your wall and the blue to the load.  I basically copied the setup I already had with my current switch.  My current switch was not tied to a neutral (most switches aren’t) and I had to fish those out from the back to connect to the neutral in the switch.  Then, we’re done!

Making safe wire connections is just as important as making right wire connections.  Check out Family Handyman’s page on how to make good and safe connections.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 12.52.30 PM

The image above shows you exactly how to wire this up but just for kicks, here’s mine – Black went to line, Blue went to load and if you squint, behind my White went to the white neutrals in my wall:


Step three – put everything back in place, turn on your breaker and make sure your switch works!

Step four – program your switch.  The instructions that come with are pretty comprehensive when it comes to programming the switch so I won’t repeat (aka copy and paste) the instructions here.  I personally have 3 programs set for mine – they go on/off every evening and I threw in a couple of odd on/off times as well to throw people off.

And there you have it, porch lights that turn on and off at your programmed command – never come home to a dark house again and you don’t have to feel guilty telling your kids now to turn off their room light since you now do such a good job turning off your porch lights.  Congrats!




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