How to Change a Home Wall Light Switch to a Timer Switch

Digital timers that can control when lights go on and off in your home can improve your home security, add to your decor and even save energy. Several currently available timers are designed to fit into standard wall switch openings, and are wired exactly as you would wire a light switch. It's a relatively simple home project for the do-it-yourselfer.

You can replace a standard switch with a digital timer switch.
  1. Turn off the power to the circuit you're working on at the circuit breaker box for your home.

  2. Loosen and remove the screws at the top and bottom of the light switch cover plate using a screwdriver. Pull the plate off the switch.

  3. Loosen the two screws on the switch, at the top and bottom. Pull the switch out of the wall when it's loose. Four wires will be attached to the switch, a black and white wire on each side. Loosen the screws holding these in place and take out the switch.

  4. Loosen the screws on each side of the new timer switch. There will be two on each side, the same as the old switch. Slide the black and white wires under the screws and tighten, replicating the position of the original wires.

  5. Place the switch into the opening and attach with the screws at the top and bottom. Some timers require a cover and some do not. If yours comes with a cover, place that on the switch at this time.


  • Never work on live electrical circuits.

About the Author

Based in Virginia, Nichole Liandi has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her articles have appeared on various print and online publications. Liandi has traveled extensively in Europe and East Asia and incorporates her experiences into her articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from West Virginia University.