Electrical Switches and Sockets – A Buyer’s Guide

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


The first downside many individuals encounter is the bewildering array of electrical terminology used. Here’s a brief explanation of the basic phrases 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 typical double socket is called a 2 gang socket.

Means: the number of switches capable of switching a light. For flexibility, most switches are 2-way. A light managed from 1 swap only requires a 1-way change (though a 2-manner change can be used without any issues). A light controlled from 2 switches e.g. a touchdown light, will require 2-approach switches.

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

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

Double Pole: a double pole swap has separate contacts and will break each live and neutral currents. Double pole switches are recommended in most conditions, especially if there are children in the house.


Bear in mind, you’ll be able to put as many switches and sockets onto an electrical circuit as you require. Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless value planning the place you have to them earlier than you buy. It’s best to think in regards to the totally different needs of the room and your way of life: the place do you require most energy sockets? With the proliferation of electrical gadgets it is best to set up more sockets than you think you will want, and make them double sockets quite than single sockets, as the price distinction is minimal.

At all times purchase switched sockets for further protection. This does not 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; do not make that mistake! Set up TV points on a minimum of 2 different partitions in a room, you could well need to re-arrange the furniture and move the TV within the future.

Also consider the lighting needs of a room. Dimmer switches present a relatively low-cost and easy strategy to range the light levels in a room, particularly helpful for creating totally different moods in dining, 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 typical 2-means light switch, not a dimmer.

Flat or raised plate?

The variations listed below are more than simply aesthetic. Flat plate sockets look modern, fashionable and sophisticated, however in addition they provide a practical, area-saving resolution to fitting sockets behind furniture. Nonetheless, the drawback for renovations is that they usually require deeper back boxes than had been initially installed, 35mm relatively than 25mm. Altering back boxes might be time consuming and messy.

Screwed or screwless?

Aesthetically, screwless flat plate switches give a fair more modern look than screwed flat plate, but screwless switches and sockets have an added advantage: they save you time and money too, as they can be fitted with out the front plate before you decorate, then painted round shortly and easily with out 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 trendy finishes. The disadvantage of polished chrome notably is that it shows up finger marks very easily. One way to assist to avoid this is to choose 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 mentioned above, brushed stainless steel sockets with usb (also called brushed chrome) is the best to keep clean.