Single or Double Pole Light Swtiches

The single pole is the light switch you’ve known your whole life. It’s commonly used with a 110-volt circuit and called “single” because one “hot” wire goes into the switch. It’s the most popular type of switch because it’s classic, convenient, inexpensive, and straightforward to use. Simple and efficient, it gets the job done and is easy to install. A double pole toggle switch looks and operates similarly to its single pole sibling. The primary difference is it’s designed for a 220-volt circuit. This type of switch is referred to as a “double” because there are two “hot” wires going into the switch. A double pole switch is generally intended for appliances, machinery, and other higher power load applications. In other words, if you seek switches for residential lighting, a double pole switch is probably the wrong choice.

Rocker Switch

A rocker switch functions just like a toggle switch, but instead of flipping a tiny lever up or down, you push a panel that either “rocks” up and down or side to side. On an “up or down” rocker switch, you push the top half to turn a light on, and push the bottom half to turn the light off. For the most part, a rocker switch isn’t “better” or “worse” than a toggle switch. You can’t go wrong with either choice, so your decision should be a matter of personal preference. One potential upside to a rocker switch, however, is its lower profile. This may make it a better choice in a narrow hallway where a toggle switch could possibly snag on clothing or another object as you pass by.

Rocker Switch
Combination Switch

Combination Switch

In addition to turning a light on and off, a combination switch offers a 3-prong grounded electrical outlet. Since replacing a switch is exponentially easier than cutting a hole in the drywall to install and wire up an entirely new outlet, this makes a combination switch a great option for rooms with insufficient or poorly-located outlets. They’re also popular choices in bathrooms and kitchens.

Double Switch or Triple Switch

Want to turn on and off multiple lights from one location in a room or hallway? You need a double or triple switch. These are available in both rocker and toggle designs. Bear in mind that you can turn on and off multiple lights using a typical single pole toggle switch, but you’re limited to “all on” and “all off.” What a double or triple switch allows you to do is turn them on and off independently of each other. IMPORTANT: Double and triple switches are not to be confused with a three-way switch, which allows you to turn on and off a single light, but from multiple locations in a room or hallway.

Double or Triple Switch
Three-Way Switch

Three-Way Switch

While the name sounds similar a three-way switch serves the opposite function of a double or triple switch. Instead of turning on and off multiple lights from one location, a three-way switch allows you to turn on and off one light from multiple locations. This is also known to some as a “multiway switch” or a “hallway switch,” because it lets you turn on a light at one end of a hallway and then turn it off when you get to the other end. Wiring this type of switching is a little more complex, so definitely do your research before attempting an install. One thing you’ll need to know is how to identify a three-way switch. Generally speaking, you won’t find an “on” or “off” marking (since on or off will also depend on the position of the other switch). In addition, you should see three screw terminals on the body of the switch, as well as a green grounding screw.

Dimmer Switches

If you’re working or reading, you probably prefer a very well-lit room. If you’re watching TV or having dinner, you may want a warmer, more relaxing environment. Dimmable light switches let you fine-tune the level of light in a room to suit your mood or needs. There are many types of dimmer switches, but they all do the same two things: • Turn the light(s) on and off • Adjust the brightness of the light(s) To accomplish this, you’ll typically see a rocker switch or a push-button on/off next to a slider. Moving the slider up makes the light brighter, down makes it dimmer.

Dimmable Switches

Countdown Timer Switch

Do you keep forgetting to turn off the light in a particular room? If so, a countdown timer switch might be a solution. This type of switch will automatically turn a light off after a set period of time, like 15 or 30 minutes. Potential locations for this type of switch could be a laundry room, garage, storage shed, etc.

Motion Sensor Switches

Another solution to save energy and prevent lights from being left on unintentionally is to install a sensor-based light switch. While the sensor mechanism may vary, it often uses “passive infrared technology” to sense occupancy by detecting the difference between heat emitted from a human body in motion and the background space. In practice, this means that if you enter a room, the lights will automatically turn on. When you leave the room, the lights will automatically turn off after a preset period of time. The typical version of these switches will also let you manually turn on and off the light, as well as control the amount of time that needs to pass before the light will automatically turn off.

Smart Switches

Thanks to the magic of smart home technology, you can remotely control your thermostat, garage door, locks, doorbell, smoke detector, security cameras, and of course your lights. With regard to lights, smart switches offers a lot of practical advantages. For example, if you forgot to turn off your lights when you left for work, as soon as you get to the office, you can turn them off using your smartphone. When you’re on vacation, you can program your lights to turn on and off at set times to help discourage would-be burglars. Or, if you’re under a cozy blanket on your couch, you can dim the lights without getting up. To take advantage of smart home lighting, you need a WiFi network, smart light switches that can connect, and a compatible smart home app. To the casual observer, smart light switches often look like any other, but behind the front panel, there’s a host of digital technology to harness these extra control features.

Remote Light Switches

If smart home technology is higher-tech than you desire, but you still love the idea of controlling the lights from the comfort of your couch, a remote switch is a potential option. In many instances, the remotes are intended to operate a compatible ceiling fan (and the lights integrated into the fan). So, if you want to go with this option, you may also need to purchase and install a compatible fan.

Make the Switch

Now that you’re familiar with the many different types of light switches – as well as their intended purposes – you’re armed with the information you need to select the right model to suit your needs. And no matter if that’s a toggle, rocker, combo, or dimmer, we have an unmatched selection of high-quality options.


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