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How to Set a Plug in Timer

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you're setting the timer on your coffee machine or trying to prevent holiday thefts, plug-in timers are extremely useful. Although manual rotary timers are still used, the invention of digital timers has allowed users to set whole sequences for their appliances and leave them to come on at different times every day. Both manual and digital timers are easy to program and, once you've set them, you know you'll be waking up to warm coffee the next morning or leaving your house in safe hands.

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  1. Plug the timers in. If it is a manual rotary timer, the device should start ticking to show it is counting time. On a digital timer, the display will usually turn on.

  2. Select the correct current time. On a manual rotary timer, you can do this by twisting the wheel until the arrow mark is positioned at the correct time. With a digital timer, ensure that the correct current time is showing on the display.

  3. Program the time you want the electrical appliances to switch on. With a manual timer, you do this by pushing down the segments that correspond to the hours you want the appliance to be turned on. For example, if you wanted a coffee machine to come on between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., you would press down the segments between the numbers "7" and "8." Depending on the complexity of your digital timer, you will be able to choose the day, hour and minute you want the appliance to come on.

  4. Program any switching you need into your digital timer. Many models allow users to change the time of day they want their electrical appliance to come on, and you can program several different time and day combinations into the timer in one sitting.

  5. Ensure that the appliance is plugged into the timer, not the plug socket; otherwise, it won't turn on.

  6. Check that the timer is activated. Manual timers will automatically start counting time, but some digital timers may need you to activate the timer function.

  7. Tip

    Manual rotary timers have 96 segments in total, which makes four per hour, so you can only set the timer in 15-minute segments, on the hour, at 15 minutes past the hour and so on. Therefore, two segments are equal to 30 minutes. If you are going away, it's a good idea to leave your house lights on a variable digital timer that will come on at different times each day. This can be effective at warning off potential thieves.


    Remember to keep the timers plugged in at all times; otherwise, they could become out of sync with current time.

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