Are switch timers prone to failure?

abbey_cnyMarch 2, 2014

Several years ago I was shopping for new exterior lights when I discovered the "self-adjusting wall switch timers" My new lights could be wired to these switches, and they would then be on timers. Unfortunately after a couple of years the timer switch I had in my garage failed. The electrician blamed it on the cold in the unheated garage so I replaced it with a standard switch. Now a second switch has apparently failed and this switch is located in my house, where it never gets below 60 degrees, so cold shouldn't be a factor. So I am wondering are these types of switches prone to fail after a few years? I don't want to invest in new ones if I will just have to replace them every few years.
Thanks for any info!

Abbey

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jxbrown

Many in-wall timers require batteries which need to be changed every few years. Are you sure that isn't the problem?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 1:14AM
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Ron Natalie

Describe the timer (electronic display, rotating knob with pins/sliders, etc...). Define fail (timer part not working? Unable to manually turn the lights on either?)>

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:55AM
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abbey_cny

Thanks for the replies. There are no batteries, jx brown. It is an intermatic self adjusting wall switch timer. Has a small display which shows the time you have set it to. and buttons with which to set the off/on times. You turn it off and on with a square button which you would click one end up and one down depending on what you were doing. The timer part was working fine until the other night when the light did not come on and when I tried to manually turn it on nothing happened. I changed the light bulbs a few months ago so I am guessing they aren't the problem.

Abbey

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:14AM
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Ron Natalie

First off, I am quite familiar with that timer and IT DOES HAVE A BATTERY to run the clock/timer part of it. The real issue is which model of the timer do you have. That one comes in two flavors. One is rated for incandescent bulbs only (semiconductor switch of some sort) and the other has a small motorized switch that can deal with a variety of lighten or even small motors.

If you use the incandescent only version with lighting that's not purely resistive (i.e., a regular filament bulb or halogen) you can expect it to fail (also it makes CF bulbs flicker ...been there / done that).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:52AM
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abbey_cny

thank you Ron. The instructions didn't mention batteries nor have I ever put any in so I (mistakenly apparently) assumed it required none. I will take another look. The information with the package didn't mention anything about types of bulbs and I have only used the standard incandescent with it.

Abbey

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:50AM
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jreagan_gw

What model # do you have? The instructions I found include a battery and list of which bulb types are support.

Here is a link that might be useful: EI600 Series

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:30PM
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abbey_cny

It is the model ST01 series, but thanks to ronnatalie's info I did discover there is a battery compartment in the switch and I replaced the battery (lithium 3V). Unfortunately that did not help. Still no light. I changed the light bulbs just a few months ago so I was thinking it wasn't them but I will try changing them to see if that helps.

Abbey

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 1:59PM
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geoffrey_b

The Intermatic timers are junk. I've had three fail, each after about a year of service.

The GE timer has worked for over two years. Also it is preloaded with time-of-day settings - so it can do dusk to dawn automatically.

Here is a link that might be useful: GE Timer

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:58AM
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Ron Natalie

Not the greatest reviews on this device the website you linked..

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:44PM
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geoffrey_b

Oops - I posted the wrong timer.

GE 15312 SunSmart In-Wall Self-Adjusting Digital Timer this one works. Has lots of good reviews on Amazon.

What I found is that the Intermatic timer is sold under several manufactuers (including GE) - and it is garbage. You can tell it's the same timer cause the 'front panel' controls are identical.

I'm posting a picture of the GE SunSmart timer that works!

Here is a link that might be useful: GE SunSmart Timer

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 3:58PM
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geoffrey_b

This is a picture of the timer that failed several times. Don't buy one with a front panel like this.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 4:02PM
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abbey_cny

Thank you Geoffrey. I will check out that timer. My timer is now working. The 3 month old light bulbs had failed, and the battery also. I do like the options on the GE timer so I will keep that in mind for future replacements.

Abbey

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 6:42PM
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