San Luis Obispo electricians demystify automatic timers

Automatic timers are a modern day convenience that can make our lives much easier. The electricians at San Luis Obispo’s Electricraft, Inc. have some advice to help you get the most benefit from automatic timers.

Automatic timers fall into a couple of groups:

  • Separate devices that connect an appliance to an electric outlet, including digital timers
  • Onboard timers such as those on slow cookers, coffee makers, ovens, and dryers

There are programmable timers that can turn on and off and there are timers that can only turn appliances off at the end of a specified time. Digital timers that can be operated remotely by your cell phone are an important feature of smart homes and offices.

Timers are certainly convenient, releasing us from forgetting to check the clock, worrying about burning the cake, or not starting the roasted chicken for dinner at the right time. There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning to find hot coffee ready and waiting!

Timers that turn on the house and exterior lights at preset times are safety features when the family arrives home after dark.

But, are timers safe? What happens if a timer fails?

When a timer fails to turn the appliance on, nothing happens. Dinner might be late or the coffee doesn’t brew, the lights don’t come on and there’s a big inconvenience.

If the timer fails to turn off, food burns, or is dry and unappetizing, dryers might catch on fire from overheated lint that hasn’t been cleaned out, even heat tempered glassware, such as a coffee carafe, left on a warm burner might crack or shatter.

These are worst case scenarios. Most appliances today are designed to automatically shut off after running for a certain amount of time. This is a safety feature designed to help prevent fires and damage to the appliance.

The San Luis Obispo electricians advise that the safest thing to do when using a separate timer device to operate an appliance, such as a hot plate, coffee pot, older slow cooker without its own timer, or any other appliance or tool, is to not leave the timer and appliance unattended for very long periods. Be sure to check on the process periodically to make sure everything is operating as expected.

Safe practices

Appliances and timer devices have use ratings just like extension cords. Know what those ratings are and make sure the appliance or device has been evaluated by a safety testing organization such as Underwriter Laboratories (UL).

Other safety practices include:

  • When your new appliance is home, read the manual thoroughly and know how to comfortably operate all of the features, including the timer.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions
  • Do some research before buying an appliance, or a separate timer device and buy the best that fits your budget.
  • If you have problems with the appliance or a timer, call the manufacturer for advice.
  • Make sure that your electrical circuits can support the new appliance. Electrical overload can cause a fire or damage appliances.

Call Electricraft, Inc., the San Luis Obispo electricians for an inspections of your home electrical system if you have any questions about connecting new appliances. An inspection identifies potential problems and the electrician gives you options for repairs and upgrades that make your home compliant with new appliances and devices.