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Porch Light Timer

Porch Light Timer – 3 Easy Solutions You Can Install Today

A porch light timer is simple but extremely useful feature to add to your home. The products available today make it even easier and more convenient than ever before. In 30 minutes, you can set up an automatic porch light timer. Never come home to a dark front door again! This articles explains how to put your porch lights on a timer.

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Porch Light Timer Benefits

A front porch light serves many purposes. For a guest, a lighted front porch says welcome to my home. For a criminal, it is a deterrent that says find an easier target. A lighted front porch also makes it safer for your family and guests to walk by allowing them to see steps and other obstacles.

The benefits are obvious, but it is a hassle to remember to turn the lights on and off each day. If you forget to turn the lights on, then you’ll find yourself walking in the dark. If you forget to turn them off in the morning, then you will waste energy and money. 

The solution is simple. You can set up a front porch light timer to automatically turn on and off your light every day. The products available today make this very easy. 

The list below contains the three best options to set up a porch light timer. The options range from simply changing a light bulb to replacing your existing porch light switch. These options are discussed in more detail in the remainder of the article.

Porch Light Timer Products and Solutions

Pro​duct

Pros

Cons

  • Easiest installation (screw in a light bulb)
  • Hue app creates sunset to sunrise timer
  • Check Circle
    Huge selection including color changing
  • Voice control with Alexa / Google
  • Requires constant power (switch must be on)
  • WIFI Only
  • No Hubs Needed
  • Check Circle
    Smart app easily creates sunset to sunrise timer
  • Voice control with Alexa / Google
  • Wiring required
  • Times Circle
    Neutral wire required in switch box

* Smart hub required

  • Most capable solution
  • Extremely reliable
  • Check Circle
    SmartThings makes it easy to create a sunset to sunrise timer
  • Check Circle
    Create complex schedules
  • Voice control with Alexa / Google
  • Smart hub required ( I use SmartThings)
  • Times Circle
    Wiring required
  • Times Circle
    Neutral wire required in switch box

Philips Hue Lights and Bulbs

Philips Hue lights by Signify are great for creating a front porch light timer. There are several product choices including outdoor wall lights that replace the entire light fixture or simple smart bulbs that can be placed in your existing sealed and covered lights.

Philips Hue bulbs are the simplest and easiest solution to create a porch light timer. You simply install a Philips Hue light bulb in your existing light fixture and create the sunset to sunrise timer in the Philips Hue App. I do want to point out that the standard Philips Hue bulbs are not rated for outdoor use. However, many people have used them outdoors in properly sealed and covered light fixtures for many years. You can read about some of these stories to make sure you are comfortable with that approach. 

Philips does make an official outdoor product line if you want to replace your current wall fixture. These lights are not only rated for outdoor use, but they are also rated for use in wet areas. The wall fixtures are slightly more difficult to install since they require you to remove your old light and rewire the new one. If you aren’t comfortable working with electricity, then you should ask a friend or hire a professional to help. 

All Philips Hue light bulbs and fixtures are controlled by the Hue Hub that is included in the starter kits. If you like, you can read more in my Philips Hue Review. The lights are accessed and set up in the Philips Hue App. It takes less than two minutes to set up a sunset to sunrise porch light timer once you install the lights. 

How to setup a porch light timer with Philips Hue:

You can set up a porch light timer in just a couple of minutes with the Philips Hue app.

1. Create a Sunset to Sunrise Routine

The first step is to select 'Routines' and then 'Other Routines' in the Philips Hue app. Next, you select 'At Sunset' as the trigger to start the routine.

Hue Routines
Hue Sunset Routine
2. Set up Your Porch Light Timer

The next step is to customize your sunset to sunrise routine for your porch light timer. There are six items to configure that are labeled with red numbers below.

  1. Name your routine 'Sunset to Sunrise', 'Porch Light Timer', etc.
  2. Make sure the routine starts at sunset and select all days of the week.
  3. Choose how you want to lights to turn on: Fade or Instant
  4. Select the lights to control. This selection is based on 'Rooms' in the Hue app. You should have a front porch room that contains your Philips Hue front porch lights.
  5. Choose the brightness level by selecting lighting routines
  6. Set your porch lights to turn off at Sunrise
Setup Sunset to Sunrise routine.
Complete Porch Light Timer

It's that easy to set up your front porch timer and it is just as easy to install the lights.

Philips Hue lights are the easiest to install because the lights are controlled directly by the hub without using a wall switch. However, if the light switch is turned off, then your light timer will not work. The light switch has to stay on all the time with these lights or they are rendered useless. If you choose this solution, then you might want to consider light switch covers so the lights aren’t accidentally shut off.

Philips Hue Summary


The Philips Hue lights are the fastest and easiest way to create a porch light timer. There are multiple products to choose from including white light bulbs, color changing light bulbs and outdoor wall fixtures. The Philips Hue app allows you to easily create your light timer and it automatically adjusts to sunrise and sunset times in your area.

Philips Hue Kit

Hue Inara Lantern

Pros

  • Light bulbs are the fastest and easiest product to install
  • Philips Hue app makes it easy to create a sunset to sunrise timer
  • Check Circle
    Ability to use color changing bulbs 
  • Check Circle
    Huge selection of products
  • Check Circle
    Direct integration with Amazon Echo for voice control

Cons

  • Lights won’t work if the light switch is turned off
  • Times Circle
    Wall fixtures require wiring

Kasa Smart WIFI Switch by TP-Link

The Kasa TP-Link WIFI Switch replaces your existing front porch light switch and connects directly to your WIFI network. A WIFI based switch is easy to connect and set up. However, it relies on the strength of your WIFI network to operate remotely or with a smart speaker. This normally isn’t an issue, but a WIFI switch will be a little less reliable than other options. The good news is that once you set up a sunset to sunrise timer, it will run as scheduled whether or not you have an active internet connection.

The Kasa WIFI Switch is programmed and controlled using the Kasa Smart app. The app allows you to name your switch, turn the lights on or off, set lighting scenes with other TP-Link products, and create lighting schedules. You can easily create a sunset to sunrise lighting schedule for your front porch timer using the Kasa Smart app. TP-Link provides a guide to program sunset to sunrise schedules in their frequently asked questions.

Installation is fairly simple, but it requires you to replace your existing light switch. This is a simple process that only takes about 15 minutes, but ask a friend or hire a professional if you aren’t comfortable working with electricity.

This light switch requires a neutral wire in your switch box. You should check if a neutral wire is available before proceeding. Most modern homes have a neutral wire in the box and it is usually found in a bundle of white wires in the back of the box.

Kasa Smart WIFI Switch Summary


The Kasa Smart WIFI Switch by TP-Link is the best choice if you want a switch the connects through your WIFI network and doesn’t require another hub. The Kasa Smart app makes it easy to create a sunset to sunrise timer for your front porch light.

TP-Link WIFI Switch

TP-Link WIFI Dimmer

Pros

  • Doesn’t require any other hubs (uses WIFI)
  • Smart app that makes it easy to create a sunset to sunrise timer
  • Check Circle
    Schedules (sunset to sunrise, etc.) work even if the internet is down
  • Check Circle
    Integration with Amazon Echo for voice control

Cons

  • Times Circle
    Requires wiring
  • Requires a neutral wire in your switch box for installation

GE Z-Wave Switch + SmartThings

The GE Z-Wave Switch is an extremely reliable smart light switch. When you pair the GE Switch with Samsung SmartThings, you can easily create a sunset to sunrise timer for your front porch lights. This combination is the most complex but it is also the most capable. This is what I use in my home.

The GE Z-Wave Switch and SmartThings combination is best for someone that wants to invest further in a smart home. SmartThings allows you to add multiple devices to your home that can be controlled and automated through the SmartThings app. You can read more about the SmartThings hub and its capabilities in my review. 

Installation of the GE Z-Wave Switch is similar to the TP-Link switch discussed above. You need to replace your existing light switch, which requires you to work with electricity. Again, if you aren’t comfortable with this process, then ask a friend or hire a professional for help. 

This light switch requires a neutral wire in your switch box. You should check if a neutral wire is available before proceeding. Most modern homes have a neutral wire in the box and it is usually found in a bundle of white wires in the back of the box. 

Once the switch is installed, you simply connect it to your SmartThings Hub to setup the front porch light timer. This is very easy using the SmartThings Smart Lighting app. The SmartThings app allows you to create more complex timers than the other options mentioned above. For example, you can schedule your lights to come on 30 minutes before sunset and turn off 30 minutes after sunrise. This ensures the lights are on even if it is just starting to get dark or the sun is just starting to rise. 

How to set up a porch light timer with SmartThings:

SmartThings makes it extremely easy to setup a sunset to sunrise or porch light timer with their Smart Lighting app. The SmartThings Smart Lighting app runs locally with your GE Z-Wave Switch, which means it doesn't need an active internet connection to work. This is a very reliable setup.

1. SmartThings Smart Lighting App - Sunset to Sunrise Timer

The first step is to select 'Automation' and then 'SmartApps' in the SmartThings app. Then, you add or select the  'Smart Lighting' app to create the porch light timer automation.

There are four primary areas to configure in the automation. These settings correspond to the numbers in the image below.

  1. Choose the lights you want to control. In this case, I'm choosing the Front Porch Light.
  2. Select the action to perform: 'Turn On'
  3. Select 'At Sunset' for the trigger. You can also select an offset time. I choose -30 to have my lights come on 30 minutes before sunset.
  4. Select the toggle button to 'Also turn off at sunrise'. Again, you can select a time offset. I have by light turn off 30 minutes after sunrise.
SmartThings Smart Lighting App
SmartThings Front Porch Light Timer

GE Z-Wave Switch & SmartThings Summary


The GE Z-Wave Switch and Samsung SmartThings is the most capable and powerful option for creating a porch light timer. This setup allows you to create the most advanced timers and schedules of all the solutions. This option is best for someone the wants to build out and invest into a fully functioning smart home.

GE Z-Wave Switch

SmartThings Hub

Pros

  • Extremely reliable Z-Wave communication protocol
  • SmartThings app makes it easy to create a sunset to sunrise timer
  • Check Circle
    Create complex schedules such as 30 minutes before or after sunrise/sunset
  • Check Circle
    Smart hubs integrate with Amazon Echo for voice control

Cons

  • Times Circle
    Requires a smart hub such as SmartThings
  • Times Circle
    Requires wiring
  • Requires a neutral wire in your switch box for installation

Porch Light Timer Conclusion

I highly recommend setting up a porch light timer for your home. This is a simple convenience, but it provides a lot of benefits in safety and energy savings. My family and guests both prefer approaching our front door when it is well lighted. I have also avoided teenage pranks on multiple occasions that my neighbors unfortunately had to deal with. If a front porch light can deter teenage pranksters, then it probably deters those with more sinister thoughts too.

I choose the GE Z-Wave Switch with SmartThings for my home because I have a fully developed smart home. However, any of the other options listed above would be great for someone that wants to keep things simple. I love the Philips Hue product line and I actually plan to use the outdoor light fixture on by back doors.

Order your products now and you can have the project completed this weekend!

P.S. Please leave a comment below to ask a question, help someone else or share your experiences. Thanks!

About the Author Jason

Husband, father and Smart Home enthusiast. I look forward to discussing Smart Home products and projects with you. I have over 100 connected devices in my home, and I'm excited to share what I have learned to help you build a Smart Home that works!

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