Types Of Light Switches To Switch Things Up

Lights are a very important part of our society. We use them hundreds of times a day and without lights, the world would be very different. Not somewhere you’d want to live. So it’s important to appreciate their beauty.

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Today, unnatural light is our primary source of light given we spend so much time indoors. With that said, appreciating the different types of light switches we see around us can help us learn why each of them is needed. 

The Most Popular Types Of Light Switches

There are dozens of different types of light switches and light switch covers. Today, we’re going to go over a few of the most popular and why they are chosen instead of others in any given instance. Take a look!

Single-Pole Switch

Single-Pole Type Of SwitchView in gallery

Single-pole switches are the most common type of switch. The only thing making them used less is that they can only use 120 V of power. You probably have this type of switch in your home for almost everything. 

They are almost always used for lights but can be used to cut the power off temporarily to a certain area. The only annoying thing is that they can snag and that there is an on and off that can be installed upside-down.

Toggle Switch

Toggle Type Of Light SwitchView in gallery

The toggle switch was patented in 1916 by William J. Newton and Morris Goldberg. They are what the switches used today are modeled after. The toggle switch has a small metal lever that goes up and down.

Most types of light switches were actually inspired by this switch. Though you won’t see it very often today, it can be found in decorative ways especially in certain types of design styles such as industrial designs. 

Rocker Switch

Rocker Switch Is A traditional Light switchView in gallery

Rocker switches are very safe due to the fact that they are flat and won’t snag on anything. In the United States, these are often called decorative switches. They are just like any other switch but minimalized. 

Rocker switches are very popular in Europe and in general. They are super easy to use and are quite affordable too. This type of switch is becoming more popular than the toggle switch all around the world. 

Double-Pole Switch

Double-Pole SwitchView in gallery

These switches, the double-pole switches are exactly like single-pole switches in every way except for one. They can operate up to 240 V which standard single-pole switches cannot do. So they are used for larger appliances.

This is the type of switch you will see powering most appliances and in most factories. They can also be used for longer circuits with multiple lights connected. But they aren’t common for standard house lights. 

Combo Switch

Combo SwitchView in gallery

If you only need one outlet plug-in but you also don’t have space to add both a switch box and an outlet box, this is the solution. This is a great design that combines both a switch and a plug-in into one box. 

It can be called a combination switch and it is often used in areas that only need one plug-in like a bathroom where you’d only use the plug-in to curl your hair, etc. However, it’s important to have a GFCI outlet in the bathroom. 

Rotary Switch

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A rotary switch is usually used to control how bright a light is. Most lights only switch on and off with nothing in-between. But a rotary switch allows the lights to have a medium intensity instead of only being on and off.

Rotary switches can be used for other reasons but it’s very unlikely they would be used for anything but a different types of light switches. Anything else isn’t very practical except under very special. Ask your contractor if you have questions. 

Button Light Switch

Button Light SwitchView in gallery

A button light switch was is a very old type of light switch that is actually still in use today. In electronics, push-button power controls are very common but when it comes to lights, they are quite a bit rarer. 

The button light switch can also be used for various uses such as opening automated doors or powering on an area of the house. They are often seen in warehouses and businesses that want something not noticeable. 

Proximity Light Switch

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Proximity light switches use sensors to detect motion. They turn the lights on when someone enters the room and turn the lights off a few minutes after everyone leaves. These are great for the green-minded.

If you forget to turn off the lights, this is perfect for you too. Even if you don’t forget, it never hurts to take that extra step. These switches won’t set you back that much and may even save in electricity bills. 

Setting Switches

Setting type of light Switches View in gallery

This is a type of light switch that isn’t always hooked up to a light. They have buttons instead that let you choose different modes or settings. They are often connected to smart devices where the base settings are on the switch. 

Some of these switches only have two buttons while others can have up to five, each with dials are knobs that control them. If you want a lot of settings and won’t get confused by them, this is a great way to go.

Photoelectric Light Switch

Photoelectric light switches are a unique type of light switch that detects the level of light in an area. The lights turn off automatically whenever there is enough natural light available, making them common outdoors. 

The switches can be operated manually if you wish but most of the time, they do a good job of finding out when the sun is going down and switching on. Then when the sunrises, they turn off, saving you a ton of money. 

The Clapper Light Switch

Okay, so maybe not all sound-activated light switches are clapper light switches. But you get the gist of the switch. The light switch was super popular when it came out a few decades ago and the magic hasn’t faded.

Today, they aren’t that popular due to the fact that they will sometimes turn off or on whenever a sound unintentionally causes it to react. But if you have a naturally quiet home then this can be perfect. 

Illuminated Switch

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If you’re talking about 1950s magic, then you have to look at illuminated switches. In the 1950s, these were popular as LED lights were also new and the light switch uses LED lights to light up in the dark. 

If you are afraid of the dark or have trouble seeing the light switch in the dark, then this is perfect. The switch itself lights up so you don’t have to work about not being able to find the light switch when it’s off.

Australian Rocker Switches

Australian Rocker SwitchesView in gallery

You won’t see this type of light switch in America, but they are the standard for Australia and Oceania in general. The Australian rocker switch has multiple small rocker switches, usually, quite rounded.

They are compact and simple, making them look great in any space. The Australian rocker switch is a great choice if you want a lot of lights in one spot because they can have up to six rockers on one plate. 

Vandal Resistant Switch

Vandal Resistant SwitchView in gallery

Yep, that’s the official name for this type of switch. These switches are used in crossing lights and other public spaces that vandals have access to. They are designed so that they are nearly invincible.

Vandal-resistant switches are made of steel and are even well-camouflaged so that they don’t attract vandals. While the poles around them may suffer damage and are not resistant to stains, the switch will remain visible. 

Mercury Switch

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Mercury switches are actually illegal in many states and countries due to the fact that they contain mercury, which is poisonous. They were originally created to be silent, to not wake anyone or disturb anyone. 

When used today, they are primarily only used in aircraft, bombs, and other non-residential and non-commercial uses. You won’t find these at your local home improvement store unless it’s a private shop.

Chain Switch

Chain SwitchView in gallery

This very old type of switch isn’t even a switch at all. It’s an alternative and older way to turn on the light that keeps everything all in one place without the need for extra cords and electrical wires to be installed.

Most of the time, a metal chain is attached to the light and you simply pull it to turn the light on and off. This isn’t ideal in extremely tall or short ceilings but works for 9-10 foot ceilings where you can reach but it’s not in the way. 

Touch Switch

Touch Types Of Light SwitchesView in gallery

Touch switches are electronic switches that are activated by lightly touching the switch. This works like a touch faucet where you only have to touch and not turn the lever or operate any mechanism.

These are great for cleanliness where you can use a sanitary part of your hand to simply touch the switch. There usually isn’t any switch at all and instead, it’s a screen that you can turn on and off, making it easy to clean. 

Smart Light Switch

Modern Types Of Light SwitchesView in gallery

Smart light switches are usually controlled by your smartphone but they can be controlled by Alexa or another similar electronic device. They are the light switch of the future, not requiring any external switch.

This is a much cleaner and easier way to turn your light on and off. If it is not Bluetooth operated, then you can even operate it from miles away. Halfway across the country and forget to turn your light off? No problem!