Electrical Switches and Sockets – A Buyer’s Guide

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


The first drawback many individuals encounter is the bewildering array of electrical terminology used. Here is a transient clarification of the essential phrases you will come across.

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

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

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

Single Pole: a single pole switch has one contact. When switched it will break only the live present and depart the impartial present intact.

Double Pole: a double pole swap has separate contacts and can break both live and impartial currents. Double pole switches are really useful in most conditions, especially if there are children within the house.


Remember, you’ll be able to put as many switches and sockets onto an electrical circuit as you require. Nonetheless, it is still price planning the place you’ll need them earlier than you buy. You must think about the completely different wants of the room and your way of life: where do you require most energy sockets? With the proliferation of electrical gadgets it is best to set up more sockets than you think you have to, and make them double sockets reasonably than single sockets, as the price difference is minimal.

All the time buy switched sockets for extra protection. This does not apply to sockets for kitchen appliances such as freezers, which shouldn’t be switched in case the switches are accidentally turned off.

Most individuals only put 1 TV level in a room; do not make that mistake! Set up TV factors on at the very least 2 completely different walls in a room, you may well want to re-arrange the furniture and move the TV within the future.

Also consider the lighting wants of a room. Dimmer switches provide a relatively cheap and easy option to differ the light levels in a room, significantly helpful for creating different moods in eating, living or bedrooms. Do not forget 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 regular 2-way light change, not a dimmer.

Flat or raised plate?

The differences listed below are more than merely aesthetic. Flat plate sockets look smooth, fashionable and sophisticated, however they also provide a practical, space-saving solution to fitting sockets behind furniture. Nonetheless, the drawback for renovations is that they typically require deeper back boxes than were originally installed, 35mm quite than 25mm. Changing back boxes may 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 prevent money and time too, as they are often fitted without the entrance plate earlier than you decorate, then painted round quickly and simply with out the usage of masking tape or worrying about marking the plate. When dry, simply clip the entrance plate on.


Polished chrome, brushed steel and black nickel are the most popular trendy finishes. The disadvantage of polished chrome particularly is that it shows up finger marks very easily. A method to assist to keep away from this is to choose a range where the plate is polished chrome or black nickel, however the switches themselves are made of black or white plastic. Of the 3 finishes talked about above, brushed stainless steel sockets with usb (often known as brushed chrome) is the best to keep clean.