Electrical Switches and Sockets – A Buyer’s Guide

This is a layman’s information to the things you must consider before embarking on a new build or renovation project.


The first drawback many people encounter is the bewildering array of electrical terminology used. Here is a brief explanation of the essential terms you will come across.

Gang: the number of switches or sockets on one plate. A light change with 3 switches is called a three gang switch. A standard double socket is called a 2 gang socket.

Way: the number of switches capable of switching a light. For flexibility, most switches are 2-way. A light controlled from 1 switch only requires a 1-approach change (although a 2-way switch can be used with none problems). A light managed from 2 switches e.g. a landing light, will require 2-way switches.

Intermediate: if a light might be activated from three different switches, of them will have to be 2-way switches, and the third an intermediate switch.

Single Pole: a single pole swap has one contact. When switched it would break only the live current and depart the impartial current intact.

Double Pole: a double pole change has two separate contacts and can break each live and impartial currents. Double pole switches are really useful in most situations, especially if there are children in the house.


Keep in mind, you may put as many switches and sockets onto an electrical circuit as you require. Nonetheless, it is nonetheless worth planning where you will have them before you buy. You should think concerning the completely different wants of the room and your lifestyle: the place do you require most power sockets? With the proliferation of electrical gadgets you need to install more sockets than you think you will need, and make them double sockets rather than single sockets, as the worth difference is minimal.

All the time purchase switched sockets for further protection. This doesn’t apply to sockets for kitchen appliances reminiscent of freezers, which shouldn’t be switched in case the switches are accidentally turned off.

Most individuals only put 1 TV point in a room; don’t make that mistake! Install TV factors on at the least 2 different partitions in a room, it’s possible you’ll well need to re-arrange the furniture and move the TV in the future.

Additionally consider the lighting needs of a room. Dimmer switches provide a comparatively cheap and simple technique to fluctuate the light levels in a room, significantly useful for creating totally different moods in eating, residing or bedrooms. Remember that if a light is to be operated from 2 places, and one of the switches for use is a dimmer, the opposite should be a typical 2-means light swap, not a dimmer.

Flat or raised plate?

The variations here are more than merely aesthetic. Flat plate sockets look smooth, trendy and sophisticated, but they also provide a practical, space-saving resolution to fitting sockets behind furniture. However, the drawback for renovations is that they typically require deeper back boxes than had been initially put in, 35mm relatively than 25mm. Changing back boxes will be time consuming and messy.

Screwed or screwless?

Aesthetically, screwless flat plate switches give a good more trendy look than screwed flat plate, but screwless switches and sockets have an added advantage: they prevent money and time too, as they can be fitted without the entrance plate before you decorate, then painted around shortly and simply without using masking tape or worrying about marking the plate. When dry, merely clip the entrance plate on.


Polished chrome, brushed steel and black nickel are the most popular modern finishes. The disadvantage of polished chrome notably is that it shows pop up countertop receptacle finger marks very easily. A technique to assist to avoid this is to decide on a range where the plate is polished chrome or black nickel, but the switches themselves are made of black or white plastic. Of the three finishes talked about above, brushed metal (also referred to as brushed chrome) is the simplest to maintain clean.

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