As a family we do go away quite a bit. Sometimes it is just for a couple of nights over the weekend (mainly Fridays after the little lad has finished school we go up to the caravan park and stay there to go fishing). At other times (like Easter) we go away for a bit longer. We only have the mother in law to watch the house for us now and no other family members who can pop round for us to do the curtains, turn the lights on and off and make sure there are no letters sitting in the letterbox which would give the game away to the thieves around our place. We do not trust any of the neighbours so we needed to feel safe and secure while we are away.
We decided that the best option would be to buy a really good timer which could make the lights come on and off for us without having to rely on the mother in law as she is getting a bit forgetful lately.
We bought this Homebase Digital Timer from Homebase (of course) and we have had it a few months, not long, but long enough for us to tell if it is going to be any good. It cost us just under ten pounds and we did a lot of research into what was the best one to get before we went ahead and bought this particular one.
It is fairly small and compact in size and measures just over seven centimeters each way. It is white in colour and what we like about it is the fact that once it is plugged in you do not have to get down on your hands and knees to see it as you can simply just look down on it to read the display buttons etc., and this makes it easy as you don't end up having to crank your neck too much. It comes well packagaed and has a really handy instruction booklet which I read very carefully before I went ahead to use it for the first time. I alwys make sure to read my instruction manuals very thoroughly before using a gadget or appliance for the first time and then I keep it in my special drawer just in case it is no good and I decide I want to sell it on Ebay or whatever (this is a handy hint I'd like to pass on to everyone).
This handy little gadget is as I say, simple to use and set up and acts as a circuit breaker. I could not possibly begin to tell you how many different settings there are on this - there are so many to choose from. You can have it on daily, hourly, weekly, whatever you want really. What I also really like about this timer is the fact that it has a great 'random' button as an option. Both me and my othehalf like the idea of a random button as we always think that if the timer is ste to come on at exactly the same time every night for two weeks while you are away on holiday, then people get wise as to what's going on and they may suspect no-one is actually at home and that a timer is in use. The random button means that the lights will come on at differnt times throughout the night and therefore fool the potential thief! It comes with a charger and you have to charge it for fourteen hours beforehand if you want to use it. It has an LCD digital display which is very easy to read and it comes with a very impressive twenty different programme settings. I could spend all day talking about this great little gadget. We have had the manual ones before and they have been good too, but I have to say, this beats the manual ones hands down.
We actually have two of these. We use the one upstairs when we go on holiday and feel much more safe and secure knowing it is doing its job properly while we are away from home. I use the other one downstairs int he basement. I set it to make the lights come on in the aquarium just in case I forget to go down there before I go out to work on a morning. We have also used to it set various appliances in the hosue for us getting up in a morning, such as getting the kettle to boil, turning on the tumble dryer etc., the list can go on and on.
For the small price of just under ten pounds I say this is excellent value for money and I think I can say I do recommend it.
Homebase Digital Timer
Before going on holiday I always set my 24 hour plug so that a couple of lamps come on for a few hours on the evening. I truly believe that if you turn a light on, you will be turning a burglar off. I hope so anyway! I have owned a manual timer before and still use it but I wanted another for the lamp downstairs. I saw this digital on in Homebase and thought I would see what it was like and the bonus was it was half price.
*Price and availability*
These little gadgets cost around £9.99 but I got mine for half price in a sale.
*Description and how to use*
The device sticks into your normal three pin UK plug socket. The device works as a circuit breaker and acts as an on and off switch for whatever item you want it to control.
The timer measures 7.5 cm by 7.5 cm and it has a digital display LCD on the top with the buttons next to it. It is easy to use once it is plugged in as you can look straight down at it rather than having to mess around with it in your hand.
The buttons -
There is a 'Random' button, which adjusts the settings to a random advance of 10.31 minutes between the hours of 6pm and 6am. This makes the lamp come on at less predictable times.
The other buttons are used for setting time, date, clock and switching it on and off. There is a red LED light that illuminates when the timer is switched to ON.
Before use the timer needs to be plugged in and left for 14 hours to charge the memory back up battery.
There are 20 individual programmes which offer both weekly and daily patterns, and the clock can be changed from 12 to 24 hours and from summer to winter time settings.
You can also programme the timer to come in on a day by day basis, or on set blocks of days. To set the day by day programming: select the ON time, and then select the OFF time. Simply repeat for the next day and then the next, altering the timer times as you see fit.
A faster way of programming if you are setting the same times each day is for to select the on off times for blocks of days. There are 9 different day block options to choose from and to find these you need to scroll down the options.
The instructions that come with the device are full and comprehensive, but slightly complicated.
These timers are very useful tools. You can have the lamp turning on and off every hour if you wanted throughout the night. There is so much scope for what you could use it for. You could even use it to turn your dryer on in the night so that you are using cheaper electricity for example.
This timer is smaller than the manual timer which is great as the manual one takes up a large amount of room around the plug socket. The digital one gives much more scope of things to do but I find that it over complicates things. I wanted a timer that could turn things on and off and I like to be able to do this day by day. It just gets more complicated when you are choosing patterns of blocks of days. It takes forever to figure out what is going on!
Another downside is waiting for it to charge up before using it. I need to remember to charge it up if I want to use is or it is pointless. The manual one just sits in the drawer until needed.
My thoughts are that you cannot do too much to try and deter thieves and I love the concept. I like the extra freedom and choice the digital timer gives me but find it quite complicated to set.
I would not recommend this product, I have had some success but I get quite frustrated with how long it takes to set. The manual one is cheaper and more user friendly.
A lot of people have trouble programming this timer so I've set up a web site with some easy to follow instructions: http://126.96.36.199/timer/index.html
I have used a timer switch for my house lights for many years now, mainly to guard against burglary. After my old manual timer started to make alarming noises, I decided to replace it with a digital model which had the ability to give a random pattern of timings to make the protection more realistic. I chose the Homebase 7 day electronic timeswitch, which at £10.49 was only a couple of pounds more expensive than a manual version, but offered far more flexibility.
This timer is smaller than my old fashioned manual timer, measuring about 7.5cm square. It has a digital display LCD on the top, which tells me the time on a 24 hour clock. The various operation buttons are also set on the top of the timer, which means that adjustments and overrides can easily be made without removing the plug from the wall. Operation buttons include a 'Random' button, which alters the settings to a random advance of 10.31 minutes between the hours of 6pm and 6am. Other buttons are used for setting time, date, clock and ON/OFF functions. For the timer to work you have to select either the AUTO option as "the programs can only be executed in AUTO mode". For some reason there is also an ON and OFF selection available which overrides the AUTO option. A small red LED light is illuminated when the timer is switched to ON, or when the programming has switched your light on automatically.
Before use the timer needs to be plugged in and left for 14 hours to charge the memory back up battery. The timer offers 20 individual programmes which offer both weekly and daily patterns, and the clock can be changed from 12 to 24 hours, and from summer to winter time settings.
The ON/OFF programme can either be programmed in on an individual, day by day basis, or on set blocks of days.
The day by day programming works much like a central heating boiler programme; you select the day, select the ON time, and then select the OFF time. You do not have to complete all 10 available programmes for the week, but can choose as many as you wish. If you choose to do so, you can then select week 2, and perform the same day by day programming process, thus doubling the number of available programmes to a potential 20.
If you prefer a quicker method of programming, you can select blocks of days, and choose ON/OFF times for this block. The blocks are varied and numerous, ranging from all 7 days of the week; Mon, Wed, Fri; Tue, Thu, Sat, etc, etc. There are in total 9 different day block options to choose from, but the only way to use these is to scroll through each one. As you have to do this scrolling each time you programme, and as some of the 9 blocks look very similar, it is easy to forget which block you have gone for and over-write previous programmes.
..... Still following... ??? ......
If you are still following my description, then you are obviously a Mensa member. Reviews of this timeswitch all say the same thing - it is a complete disaster to programme.
The first problem with the switch is that you need to follow the step by step instructions to programme it - there is no intuitive process here. The instructions are provided on a tiny, folded piece of paper and were obviously written by a non-English speaker, despite Homebase claiming that the switch was produced in Milton Keynes. Spelling and grammar mistakes are mixed in with typos, and the whole thing is a very complicated and dense read. The button is a 'bytton', completing is 'competing', and my husband's favourite sentence was "Hold down for rapid forward counting" - except that they had left the 'O' out of the word counting.
The internet is full of messages from distressed owners who have lost their instructions and have forgotten how to use the timeswitch.
The second and most annoying problem with the programming is that each programme can overlap another. Unlike a central heating boiler, there is no automatic progression onto the next day, and also no indication of which day you have just programmed in. Therefore, once you get to around Wednesday, you have completely forgotten which day you have just programmed and could repeat and override the Wednesday programme that you have just set.
The instructions give you this handy little tip: "when verifying your programs ensure that the settings do not overlap, especially when using the block option. If there are program settings overlapping, the timer ON or OFF will be executed according to program time, not by program number. Program OFF has priority over program ON".
I am usually the technical one in the household, but after hours of programming and finding my lamp on in the middle of the day, I threw the timeswitch at my husband for support. As he is of a more patient nature, he did succeed in programming a block of ON/OFF times, and also set the random 'bytton' with great success. He is however, inordinately proud of this great feat and demands praise every time the lamp switches on.
Although I can not recommend this product in any way at all, I do feel that I have to point out a couple of positives in the interests of fairness.
It is cheap.
The random button is very useful.
The leaflet reminds us that time switches should not be used with heaters, as this is a fire risk.
It also tells us not to immerse the timer device in water.
I would like them to have added a warning that this device can cause insanity, divorce and destructive violence.