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A Mechanical time switch vs Digital time switch


What does a time switch do?

A time switch is an electrical component controlled by a timing mechanism that turns a load ON or OFF at the set times of the day. Time switches can be daily (the same program for each day of the week) or weekly (a different program for each day of the week ) depending on the requirements of the application. Time switches may be electromechanical or electronic. Electronic time switches often have selectable daily or weekly programming modes and may offer advanced features such as Astro timing.

A time switch is predominantly used for lighting systems in public and private areas, irrigation systems, swimming pool pumps, water heater pumps, illuminated signs, and heating and cooling plants.

Can you time a light switch?

Finder’s 12 Series time switches allow users to be able to schedule and manage when lighting comes on and goes off in a way that is both optimal and efficient, be it in privately owned spaces such as houses and apartments, or in common areas in apartment buildings and offices such as gardens, garages, and entrance halls. This is scheduled according to the time of day and/or geographical location.

Finder’s 12 Series time switches are ideal for programming lighting systems in both public and private areas. From the configuration of garden lights to the integration of street light systems, Finder 12 Series time switches are the perfect tools to create light when you need it!

Mechanical time switches vs Digital time switches

An electromechanical time switch, also known as an analogue time switch, is a simple but effective device in operating equipment needing timed and controlled activity. They are mechanical devices where the switching is controlled by pegs or cams.

What are the advantages of using a mechanical time switch?

  • Very simple to use and easy to install
  • Highly reliable and durable
  • Relatively inexpensive


What are the disadvantages?

  • Limited functionality
  • The cams/pegs can be fiddly/difficult to adjust (accidentally moving adjacent equipment as well)
  • Ingress of dust over time can make cams/pegs difficult to move
  • Difficult to get truly accurately adjusted for time. It is much harder to get to the nearest minute in comparison


Digital time switches

A digital time switch is programmable and can be either daily, weekly, or even yearly programmed by specific time and date. They offer more options than the mechanical time switches and can handle lots of different situations. Finder’s 12 Series electronic time switches provide pin-lock protection, minimising the opportunity of tampering with the configured settings.

Finder’s range of digital time switches offer quick and flexible programming right from your smartphone, with NFC technology and the ‘Finder Toolbox NFC’ Appavailable on both Apple iPhones and Android devices. A huge advantage of Finder’s 12 Series is its ability to configure by smartphone which makes it five times faster than doing it manually.

Finder’s digital time switches include Astro models which base the switching times on the calculated sunrise and sunset times for that location based on date. Location is easily set for most European countries through post codes or worldwide by coordinates.

Finder’s Astro time switches are Types:

12.81 (Digital Astro time-switch)

  • Astro ON period override, by time-switch


12.A1 and 12.A2 (Weekly Astro time-switches):

  • Astro ON/Astro OFF
  • Switch ON/Switch OFF
  • Pulse from 1 second to 59 minutes

12.A4 (Weekly Astro Model for applications where a variable light level is required):

  • 1 analogue output: 0-10V or PWM
  • Astro ON/Astro OFF
  • Time-switch control of analogue output

All Finder Astro time-switches feature:

  • Holiday program
  • Offset function: Allows the switching times to be advanced or retarded about the astronomic times by up to 90 min, in 1 min steps (10 minute steps for Type 12.81)


Smart configuration

With the Finder Toolbox app, you can now configure a time switch straight from your smartphone! By using the NFC technology (Near Field Communication) that is currently available on Apple (iPhone 6 and above) and Android smartphones, you can:

  • Configure the time switch straight from your smartphone
  • Repeat the same configuration over several days
  • Save the configuration and apply it to other devices

The Finder Toolbox app brings you the latest news and updates on Finder products at your fingertips. By downloading the free app, you can configure the following types: 12.51, 12.81, 12.61, 12.62, 12.A1, 12.A2.

What are the advantages of a digital time switch?

  • Versatile
  • Quick and easy to programme with a tap
  • Automatic adjustments for daylight saving
  • Saves time, energy, and money
  • Secured and protected with a 4-digit pin
  • Aesthetic design with backlit display


What are the disadvantages?

  • More expensive than mechanical time switches


Take a look at the 12 Series datasheet

Finder's range of time switches

Mechanical time switches

Type 12.01 Mechanical time switches, daily *, with 1 NO 16 A contact, Width 35.8 mm. 35 mm rail (EN 60715) mounting.

* Same program for each day

Features include:

  • Shortest programming interval: 30 min


Type 12.11 Mechanical time switches, daily *, with 1 NO 16 A contact, Width 17.6 mm. 35 mm rail (EN 60715) mounting.

* Same program for each day

Features include:

  • Shortest programming interval: 15 min (12.11)


Type 12.31 Mechanical time switches, daily *, with 1 changeover contact 16 A, for back panel mount. 72 x 72 mm. 35 mm rail (EN 60715) mounting.
* Same program for each day

Available in the following versions:

  • Type 12.31-0000 (Daily, 1 changeover contact 16 A, dimensions 72 x 72 mm, Rear panel mount)
  • Type 12.31-0007 (Weekly, 1 changeover contact 16 A, dimensions 72 x 72 mm, Rear panel mount)

Features include:

Shortest programming interval:

  • 1 h (12.31-0007)
  • 15 min (12.31-0000)

Find an authorized Finder dealer near you:

Finder YOU
Finder Toolbox
Finder Yesly
Finder Bliss
Finder Toolbox NFC
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