Electrical Switches and Sockets – A Buyer’s Guide

This is a layman’s guide to the things it’s best to consider earlier than embarking on a new build or renovation project.


The first problem many individuals encounter is the bewildering array of electrical terminology used. Here’s a brief clarification of the essential phrases you will come across.

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

Approach: the number of switches capable of switching a light. For flexibility, most switches are 2-way. A light controlled from 1 change only requires a 1-manner switch (though a 2-means swap can be utilized without any issues). A light managed from 2 switches e.g. a landing light, would require 2-method switches.

Intermediate: if a light can be activated from 3 different switches, two of them will need to be 2-means switches, and the third an intermediate switch.

Single Pole: a single pole change has one contact. When switched it’s going to break only the live current and depart the impartial current intact.

Double Pole: a double pole switch has two separate contacts and will break both live and neutral currents. Double pole switches are really helpful in most conditions, especially if there are children within the house.


Keep in mind, you possibly can put as many switches and sockets onto an electrical circuit as you require. Nonetheless, it’s still worth planning the place you’ll need them earlier than you buy. You need to think in regards to the totally different wants of the room and your life-style: where do you require most energy sockets? With the proliferation of electrical gadgets it’s best to set up more sockets than you think you’ll need, and make them double sockets relatively than single sockets, as the value distinction is minimal.

Always purchase switched sockets for extra protection. This does not apply to sockets for kitchen appliances comparable to freezers, which should not be switched in case the switches are unintentionally turned off.

Most people only put 1 TV level in a room; do not make that mistake! Set up TV points on no less than 2 different partitions in a room, you may well wish to re-arrange the furnishings and move the TV in the future.

Also consider the lighting needs of a room. Dimmer switches provide a comparatively cheap and simple method to range the light levels in a room, particularly useful for custom popsocket creating different moods in eating, living 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 other must be a typical 2-method light swap, not a dimmer.

Flat or raised plate?

The variations here are more than simply aesthetic. Flat plate sockets look modern, modern and sophisticated, but they also offer a practical, house-saving solution to fitting sockets behind furniture. However, the drawback for renovations is that they often require deeper back boxes than were initially installed, 35mm moderately than 25mm. Changing back boxes will be time consuming and messy.

Screwed or screwless?

Aesthetically, screwless flat plate switches give a fair more trendy look than screwed flat plate, but screwless switches and sockets have an added advantage: they save you money and time too, as they are often fitted without the front plate before you decorate, then painted around quickly and easily without using masking tape or worrying about marking the plate. When dry, merely clip the front plate on.


Polished chrome, brushed steel and black nickel are the preferred fashionable finishes. The disadvantage of polished chrome significantly is that it shows up finger marks very easily. A method to assist to avoid this is to decide on a range the place the plate is polished chrome or black nickel, but the switches themselves are made of black or white plastic. Of the three finishes mentioned above, brushed steel (often known as brushed chrome) is the easiest to maintain clean.