Should You Get a Light Timer for Your Outdoor Christmas Lights?

How often have you asked yourself, “Did I turn the lights off”? If you are anything like most people, you have probably asked yourself this more times than you can count. If this is the case, you’re in luck. This article will completely cover all of your outdoor Christmas light timer questions. Now let’s get into it.

Environmental Impact of Christmas Lights?

American household Christmas lights use up more electricity than some poorer countries, such as El Salvador or Ethiopia, do in an entire year. And by forgetting to turn your lights off, only adds to the waste. Bright lights strung on American trees, rooftops, and lawns account for 6.63 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption every year. That's more than the national electricity consumption of many developing countries. El Salvador for one, uses 5.35 billion kilowatt-hours. While Ethiopia consumes 5.30 billion and Tanzania 4.81 billion per year. 

The researchers, Todd Moss and Priscilla Agyapong, used data from a 2008 US Department of Energy report and the World Bank to carry out their research. They added that the 6.63 billion kilowatt hours used by US Christmas lights represent only 0.2 percent of yearly US energy consumption. That is enough power to run 14 million refrigerators.

And remember, the majority of electricity in the United States comes from carbon-heavy sources such as gas and coal.

Why You Should/Shouldn’t Bother with Light Timers

Pro: You Can Save Energy

Naturally, one of the top benefits to choosing timer lights is that they help to save energy. More often than not, lights end up being left on in your home, usually by accident. You might assume you will be right back in the bathroom, so you leave the light on. And unfortunately, you get distracted and realize hours later it has been on all this time. In this type of situation, lights that go off after a certain number of minutes automatically. This is a great way to help lower your electrical bills.

Con: The Installation Cost Is Higher

You are most likely going to end up paying more for these lights, both in materials and in installation costs. The lights themselves can cost more since they often have different features than traditional light switches. But remember, that doesn't include labor costs. It is recommended that a professional electrical contractor install them, which increases those costs as well.

Pro: There Are Different Features to Choose From

While they can cost a little more, timer lights also have some other features you can choose from. First of all, the timer lights themselves have two main options: automatic shut-off lights and programmable lights. The programmable timer lights actually let you program the time they go on and off. The automatic shut-off timer lights are only meant to turn off automatically after a certain period of time. Then you have some other options, such as timer lights that also contain motion detectors or dimmers.

Con: They Are Sometimes Inconvenient

When you need to be in a room for longer than the shut-off feature allows, it can be frustrating when the light turns off automatically. For example, when you are taking a long bubble bath, the light might turn off when you are still in there. You then have to either deal with a dark bathroom or get out to turn it back on, then jump back in the bath. This is one of the main disadvantages of the automatic shut-off ones that can't be programmed.

Best Light Timers on the Market

OnlineDo Large Light Timer

The OnlineDo Large is half the price of some of the more high-end options out there, yet functions just as well, making this a great budget value. It features a convenient manual override switch and a built-in backup battery for the utmost reliability.

GE 15154 Light Timer

The GE 15154 can store individual settings for each day of the week with 20 different on/off periods. Which allows you to set it up and walk away without worrying. Use it to deter crime by turning lights on when you're out or set it up to control your holiday decorations.

Intermatic Indoor Astronomic Light Timer

Programming the Intermatic Indoor Astronomic takes getting used to, but once you master it, you'll never consider a timer without astronomic adjustment. As for what that means, just know daylight savings and sunrise/sunset times are automatically taken into account.

Securifi Peanut Light Timer

If you've already got some home automation in place, the Securifi Peanut is a good option that will be compatible with hardware like Amazon Alexa. It will require an Almond router and Zigbee capabilities, however.

Woods Mini Light Timer

The Woods Mini has a digital display that takes the guesswork out of setting the timer. Making it great both for automating lamps every day and/or for the infrequent, but often irritating, process of programming holiday lighting.

Leviton 1000-Watt Light Timer

The Leviton 1000-Watt lets you customize on and off settings for any device by day of the week, time, or a combination of the two. In fact, you can set as many as 50 cycles per day, and you can override it with a tethered remote, too.

Woods Outdoor Photoelectric Light Timer

The Woods Outdoor Photoelectric has a watertight design. Allowing you to set it up for appliances or decorations in the yard or on a patio without having to worry about anything shorting out. That makes it ideal for holiday lights or even backyard movie screenings.

Enover 7-Day Light Timer

Bestselling because of its unique, ergonomic design, the Enover 7-Day features a large digital LCD screen. The screen displays the date and time and is easy to see from a distance. The modest investment in this one will pay for itself in eventual energy savings.

APC SurgeArrest Light Timer

The APC SurgeArrest combines the ability to control the flow of electricity with the utility of a surge protector. With four points to plug in, it's a great way to make sure your entertainment center doesn't stay on all night long.

Century Heavy Duty 24 Hours Light Timer

The Century Heavy Duty 24 Hours has two built-in outlets, allowing it to control two devices automatically. And both sides are fully grounded for handling high energy use appliances. Its large, durable design is perfect for both a workbench and a kitchen counter.


If you want to have the best lights on your street or cut down on electric waste, a light timer is a great investment. There is nothing like taking the time to set up your Christmas lights and forgetting to turn them on. While on the other hand, there is no greater feeling knowing that you are doing your part to help decrease the waste of electricity. Either way, it is a win-win situation for anyone who purchases a light timer for their outdoor Christmas lights.

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Tyler Farr

Tyler is an energetic nature enthusiast who is currently considering moving into a tiny house. Tyler and his wife enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, and doing anything in the great outdoors. He hopes that the articles he writes will help others learn how important it is to take care of the environment.

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