Electrical Switches and Sockets – A Buyer’s Guide

This is a layman’s information to the things you need 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 is a brief clarification of the fundamental phrases you’ll come across.

Gang: the number of switches or sockets on one plate. A light switch with three switches is called a three gang switch. A standard 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 switch only requires a 1-means switch (though a 2-means change can be used without any problems). A light managed from 2 switches e.g. a landing light, would require 2-way switches.

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

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

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


Bear in mind, you may put as many switches and sockets onto an electrical circuit as you require. Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless worth planning the place you will want them earlier than you buy. You need to think about the totally different wants of the room and your lifestyle: the place do you require most power sockets? With the proliferation of electrical gadgets you must set up more sockets than you think you have to, and make them double sockets moderately than single sockets, as the price distinction is minimal.

All the time buy switched sockets for additional protection. This doesn’t apply to sockets for kitchen home equipment akin to freezers, which shouldn’t be switched in case the switches are by chance turned off.

Most individuals only put 1 TV point in a room; do not make that mistake! Set up TV factors on no less than 2 different partitions in a room, you might well need to re-arrange the furniture and move the TV in the future.

Also consider the lighting needs of a room. Dimmer switches provide a comparatively low cost and simple option to differ the light levels in a room, particularly helpful for creating completely different moods in eating, residing 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 opposite must be a regular 2-method light switch, not a dimmer.

Flat or raised plate?

The variations listed here are more than merely aesthetic. Flat plate sockets look smooth, trendy and sophisticated, however additionally they supply a practical, area-saving answer to fitting sockets behind furniture. Nonetheless, the drawback for renovations is that they usually require deeper back boxes than have been originally installed, 35mm slightly than 25mm. Altering back boxes will be time consuming and messy.

Screwed or screwless?

Aesthetically, screwless flat plate switches give an even 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 with out the entrance plate earlier than you decorate, then painted round rapidly and simply without the use of masking tape or worrying about marking the plate. When dry, merely clip the front plate on.


Polished chrome, brushed metal and black nickel are the most popular modern finishes. The disadvantage of polished chrome notably is that it shows up finger marks very easily. A method to assist to keep away from 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 3 finishes talked about above, brushed stainless steel sockets with usb (often known as brushed chrome) is the best to keep clean.