Electrical Switches and Sockets – A Buyer’s Guide

This is a layman’s guide to the things you need to consider before embarking on a new build or renovation project.


The primary drawback many people encounter is the bewildering array of electrical terminology used. Here is a temporary explanation of the essential phrases you’ll come across.

Gang: the number of switches or sockets on one plate. A light swap with 3 switches is called a three gang switch. A regular 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 controlled from 1 swap only requires a 1-method switch (though a 2-approach switch can be used with none issues). A light managed from 2 switches e.g. a touchdown light, would require two 2-approach switches.

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

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

Double Pole: a double pole swap has separate contacts and can break both live and impartial currents. Double pole switches are advisable in most situations, particularly if there are children in the house.


Bear in mind, you can put as many switches and sockets onto an electrical circuit as you require. Nevertheless, it is nonetheless value planning where you have to them before you buy. It is best to think in regards to the different wants of the room and your lifestyle: the place do you require most energy sockets? With the proliferation of electrical gadgets you must install more sockets than you think you will need, and make them double sockets slightly than single sockets, as the worth difference is minimal.

Always purchase switched sockets for further protection. This does not apply to sockets for kitchen home equipment corresponding to freezers, which should not be switched in case the switches are unintentionally turned off.

Most individuals only put 1 TV point in a room; do not make that mistake! Install TV factors on a minimum of 2 different walls in a room, you could well want to re-arrange the furnishings and move the TV in the future.

Also consider the lighting wants of a room. Dimmer switches present a relatively low-cost and straightforward solution to fluctuate the light ranges in a room, particularly helpful for creating different moods in eating, dwelling or bedrooms. Remember that if a light is to be operated from 2 places, and one of many switches to be used is a dimmer, the other must be an ordinary 2-way light swap, not a dimmer.

Flat or raised plate?

The differences listed below are more than simply aesthetic. Flat plate sockets look modern, modern and sophisticated, but they also supply a practical, space-saving solution to fitting sockets behind furniture. However, the drawback for renovations is that they usually require deeper back boxes than had been originally put in, 35mm moderately than 25mm. Altering back boxes will be time consuming and messy.

Screwed or screwless?

Aesthetically, screwless flat plate switches give an excellent more fashionable look than screwed flat plate, however screwless switches and sockets have an added advantage: they save you time and money too, as they can be fitted without the entrance plate before you decorate, then painted round quickly and simply without the use of masking tape or worrying about marking the plate. When dry, merely clip the entrance plate on.


Polished chrome, brushed stainless steel sockets with usb and black nickel are the most popular modern finishes. The disadvantage of polished chrome significantly is that it shows up finger marks very easily. One way to assist to keep away from this is to decide on a range where the plate is polished chrome or black nickel, however 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 best to keep clean.