How To Choose The Right Light Switch



Whether you’re installing a new ceiling fan or just replacing an old light fixture, choosing the right light switch can be harder than you think. There are many different kinds to choose from, and some might suit your project better than others. So, to help you in choosing the right light switch for your next lighting project, here are the basics on the different types out there so you can make the right decision.

 

1. The single-pole switch – this type of switch controls the power to the lights or electrical switches by switching off the “hot” side of the electrical current that goes to the switch and controls the current from only one point. These are installed in an electrical box with two terminal screws. 

2. The double-pole switch – this type of switch controls the power to the lights and electrical switches in the same manner that the single-pole does, by switching off the “hot” side of the electrical current. The only difference in this switch and the single-pole is that the double-pole has four terminal screws that hold it in place.

3. The three-way switch – this type of switch controls the power to the lights and electrical switches by turning off the “hot” side of the electrical current as well. But, these switches control one electrical circuit from two different points, such as controlling a light from either the kitchen or the dining room. This switch is mounted in an electrical box as well, and has three terminal screws.

4. The four-way switch – this switch also controls the power to lights and electrical switches by turning off the “hot” side of the electrical current. The four-way works along with the three-way to control an electrical circuit from three or more points in the house or building. These have four terminal screws and sometimes have a green screw to ground the circuit.

5. Specialty switches – there are all types of specialty switches to choose from:

 

1. Outdoor switch – these have a weatherproof box cover that allows them to be placed outside. 

2. Delayed action switch – these keep the circuit open for a few seconds or minutes after the switch is shut off. This type of switch is good for garages, workshops, or any other type of place where you might need a minute or so to get to the exit after turning off the light switch.

3. Rocker switch – these switches operate on the same principle as a regular switch, but instead of a toggle switch, these have a rocking action.

4. Illuminated switch – these have a small light that is set in the base of the switch to allow you to find it in complete darkness. This is a great switch for children’s rooms, hallways, stairwells, and other places where the switch is not right inside the doorway.

5. Motion switch – these switches turn on with motion. These are great for entryways or for security.

6. Dimmer switch – these switches allow you to adjust the brightness of the lights by turning a dial.

 

There are several other types of switches available, these are only a few of the most popular. Be sure to check with your local hardware store for the types of switches that they sell. But, no matter what type of switch you choose for your next lighting project, you now have a basic understanding of what types are available and what might work the best for you. 

WARNING: When working with electricity, it is always best to completely turn off any electrical circuits that you will be working with before you begin your work. Always follow all safety precautions and directions on the packaging of electrical products that you are working with to prevent injury.