Choosing the Right Light Switch

Switches are used to control many things such as roller shutters, blinds and ventilation by establishing or interrupting a power supply. In this guide we will focus on the light switch. Whichever light switch you choose, keep in mind that the safety standards for installing the switch will vary depending on the country. Some switches also contribute to reducing energy consumption more than others. Continue reading this guide to learn more.

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  • How to choose the ideal light switch

    No matter what the nature of your project is, commercial or residential, or which room you plan on installing the switch in, it is necessary to consider a number of elements. In this guide, we go through each element that will help you in your search.

    • Type
    • Material, style and finish
    • Installation
    • Recessed vs surface-mounted
    • Configuration
    • 3-way or 4-way switches
    • Safety
    • Trends
  • What should I know about the types of light switches?

    When choosing the type of light switch, things to consider include the ease of use, style and function.  Here’s a list of the different types:

    • Push-button: A simple electric or air switch mechanism turns the light on or off. Certain models allow a momentary or latching action function. The button is often made of metal or plastic.
    • Toggle: Consists of a lever that can be moved up and down to operate the light.
    • Rocker: A spring-loaded rocker is integrated into the switch. Similar to the toggle in that it can be moved up and down to operate the light, the rocker does not have a lever but a flat surface.
    • Rotary: It operates by rotation and usually has a detent mechanism so you can hear it click from one active position to the other.
    • Touch: As the name suggests, touch the surface of the switch to operate the light like you would a touchscreen.
    • Automatic: It is a switch coupled to a motion detector — widely used in cellars and basements.
    • Key card: Often used in hotels, key card switches operate as a room key and activate the light switches when the card is inserted into the slot provided. This prevents lighting being left on when the room is unoccupied, saving energy.
    • Key lock: Like a typical door key, the key is inserted into the switch lock and turned to operate the light.
    • Remote-controlled: The light can be controlled using the remote.
    • Pull: This activates a light by means of a chain or string. It is mostly used to operate a ceiling light.
    RETROTOUCH Touch light switch

    RETROTOUCH Touch Light Switch

    Llinàs BCN Rotary switch

    Llinàs BCN Rotary Light Switch

    MELJAC Toggle light switch

    MELJAC Toggle Light Switch

    DORMAKABA Key Card Switch

    DORMAKABA Keycard Switch

  • What is a dimmer switch?

    As the name suggests, a dimmer switch allows you to vary the brightness of a light, which can be useful for rooms used for activities requiring different light intensities, (such as reading, computer work, watching films, etc.). When choosing a dimmer switch, ensure that it is compatible with the type of light source. If you are using LEDs, the light bulb has to be dimmable and the dimmer suitable for LEDs, as standard dimmer switches for incandescent lamps do not operate in the same way.

  • What should I know about smart switches?

    The smart light switch is controlled by an app on your smartphone; it can often be controlled using your voice via a virtual assistant. Depending on the brand, the smart switch can be voice operable with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or IFTTT. It’s connected to the home or building network through Wi-Fi.

  • What are some material, style and finish options?

    The material and style options of your switches and plug sockets can be chosen to match the aesthetics of your space, with a wide variety of designs to suit your budget. Switches come in a variety of materials as well—metal, plastic, glass, porcelain, wooden, stone. While modern style switches are available in the largest range of materials, traditional switches are often made of noble or classic materials such as porcelain, brass or duroplast. Different types of switches can come in a multitude of colors and appearances—metal look, gold finish, chrome look, silver finish, glass look, stone look, leather look, imitation wood.

    BIRONI Wooden Switch

    BIRONI Wooden Light Switch

    LUXONOV Brass Light Switch

    LUXONOV Brass Light Switch

    DUOTECNO Glass Light Switch

    DUOTECNO Glass Light Switch

  • Where to install a light switch?

    Each country has its own regulations on how to install a light switch so be sure to check yours. There may be a certain height from the floor level to respect, and a minimum number of switches for circulation spaces such as staircases and corridors.

    When planning switches for wetspaces, ensure that local regulations are respected, such as the minimum installation distance from showers, basins and toilets. For exterior environments, you may be required to use waterproof switches or power outlets.

  • Should I choose a recessed or surface-mounted switch?

    When choosing a light switch it is important to consider the best type of installation for the project: recessed or surface-mounted. A recessed switch is installed into a hollow opening in the wall or drywall. the switch is connected to the cables and wiring, which run through a conduit integrated into grooves in the wall, or the hollow of the drywall. This type of installation is often used for new constructions or renovations. Installing recessed switches requires wiring the lights into the wall so you might want to consider hiring an electrician. Specific tools are required to dig the grooves; you’ll need to use a hole saw or drill bit for the locations where you’ll install the built-in boxes.

    The box of a surface-mounted switch is not tucked inside a hole in the wall but extends out from the wall. It is more often used in a commercial building and outdoor setting than a residential one.

    AVE Recessed Light Switch

    AVE Recessed Light Switch

    GI GAMBARELLI Surface-Mounted Light Switch

    GI GAMBARELLI Surface Mounted Light Switch

    GIRA Push-button Light Switch

    GIRA Surface Mounted Light Switch

    • Recessed Installation
      + Aesthetic
      + Won’t get in the way
      Requires specific tools
      Technical and complicated


    • Surface-mounted Installation
      + Simple and quick installation
      + Easy to update or change the installation
      Less aesthetic
      Can become an obstacle
  • Understanding the configurations for light switches

    Light switches fit into two categories of configurations—single or multiple— and come in a wide selection of types. A single configuration means there is one switch that controls one light; the multiple configuration can have double, triple or quadruple switches on one base, allowing you to control multiple lights from one place.

    • Single: The base consists of one switch which controls one light.
    • Multiple: The base consists of two, three or four switches and controls multiple lights.
  • What if I need to control a light from two or more locations?

    If you need to operate the same light from two places, for example at the top or bottom of a staircase or in a corridor, 3-way switches will be required. If the light needs to be operated from 3 or more places, a combination of 3-way and 4-way switches will be necessary. This might be the case in large rooms with 3 or more entry points or for housing with multiple levels.

    Ensure that the switch you choose meets local regulations and is compatible with the current installation, as the wiring methods and colors may vary depending on the country. (Note that in the EU 3-way switches are known as 2-way switches, and 4-way switches may be referred to as intermediate switches).

  • Important safety practices while installing a light switch

    The most important practice to keep in mind is turning off the power supply before installing a light switch. This “rule of thumb” needs to be implemented during mounting and wiring. The switch must comply with the safety standard enforced in your country; you can typically find this on the product’s label. If you’re installing a light switch instead of hiring a professional, you will need to know where the fuse boxes and circuit breakers are located and how to operate them.

    • The power supply must be off
    • Know the wiring code of your country
    • Locate fuse boxes and circuit breakers
    • Know how to operate the boxes and breakers
  • What are the latest trends for light switches?

    One of the newest members is the wireless switch. It can be installed anywhere and is compatible with most fixtures. Composed of a transmitter within the switch, and a receiver connected to the light fixture, the system allows you to operate the light from the switch without changing or adding any wiring.

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