Home Business Insights & Advice The different types of switches in your house

The different types of switches in your house

by Sarah Dunsby
30th Nov 18 11:47 am

The switch is a common electrical device at home. They come in with varying shapes and sizes and they are used for various purposes.

Another distinguishing factor is the style of operation. You have the rocker switch, toggle, push-button and slider among others. Here are some of the common types:

Single pole switch

This type of switch is used to operate a myriad of electrical devices. One of the main distinguishers of this switch is the ON and OFF markings on the toggle.

In addition, this switch comes with two screw terminals which are connected to the livewire. One of the brass is connected to one outgoing livewire while the other is connected to the incoming livewire. A number of these switches also have a ground connection.

Interestingly, the neutral wire isn’t connected to these switches.

Double pole switch

These switches are common in industries, but you can still spot them in a number of homes. Similar to the single pole switch, the double pole also has ON and OFF markings to control devices from a single point.

The difference sets in with the number of brass poles. Instead of two, the double pole switch has four including a ground connection. These four connections allow 2 pairs of live connections.

Since it’s used in industries, these switches come with higher amp ratings of about 30 amps to handle the massive appliances used in the industries.

Three-way switches

These types of switches are used in twos, thus allowing you to control an electrical device from two different points. They also have ON and OFF markings, but the positions of the two will vary depending on how the switches are used.

It also comes with three connections and a ground terminal. The livewire will go to the terminal screw indicated as “COM” which is short for common. The remaining connections are called travellers and they can be interchanged.

Since there two different connections, it’s important to mark the livewire during a replacement to avoid confusion. The other two are interchangeable, so there’s no way you’ll confuse them.

The four-way switch

The four-way switch works like more like a relay. It’s positioned between two three-way switches. This means it can control a device from three or even more locations.

The switch is similar to the double-pole switch. The difference is in the ON and OFF markings. The four-way switch lacks these markings. However, it has a ground connection in addition to the four terminals brass in colour.

It doesn’t come with a common connection like in the three-way switch. For this reason, the switch will act as a relay for the traveller wires between the three-way switches.

There you have it. The various switches you’ll find in your home. Keep in mind the type of switch you intend on installing will depend on the need. Do you want to control an electrical device from one location or multiple locations? Also, what type of load are you connecting the switch to?

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