A switch is an electrical device designed to connect and disconnect an electrical circuit. Most often switches control lighting devices, less often they are used to turn on and off exhaust fans, air conditioners, etc. 

According to the type of installation, switches are divided into flush-mounted switches and switches for outdoor installation. The former are used when installing concealed wiring, the latter – when laying wiring by open method. 

Types of Switches

The switch is the device that technical designers most like to improve and fumble with additional options. Depending on the methods of switching, adjustment, purpose and protective properties of the body switches can be divided into several types. 

1. Push-button

Push-Button Switches

The most common type of switch. It makes or breaks an electric circuit by moving a pushbutton from one position to another. There are one-, two- and three-key versions.

Push-button switches are inexpensive, easy to use and easy to repair. On the other hand, they have a rather low service life, you can not adjust the intensity of lighting, no power-saving mode. 

2. Push button

Push button Switches

The principle of operation of the button switch is similar to the key switch: you press the button – it locks and closes the contact. And when you press it again, the contact opens. LED backlights are often available. These switches should not be confused with conventional electric buttons, such as those for bell transmitters: These buttons only make contact when held by hand.

Push-button switches are easy to fit in any room despite their slightly non-standard appearance. They are a little more expensive than their keyboard counterparts. And it will serve you well for a long time.

3. Dimmers (Switches with Regulator)

Dimmers (Switches with Regulator)

A kind of rheostat, familiar to most of us from high school physics classes. Dimmers work on the same principle. The rheostat changes the resistance of an electric circuit, and therefore the amount of current in it. Higher resistance means less amperage. The lower the amperage, the dimmer the light bulb in the circuit. With these switches, you can adjust the light intensity by turning the control knob. 

The pluses of dimmers are energy saving (some devices even turn off on their own when no one is in the room) and ease of use. But there is a disadvantage: due to the high cost, not everyone can afford such switches. On a side note: dimmers work great with incandescent lamps, but with the recently fashionable LED lights and lamps can conflict and function incorrectly.

4. Rotary

Rotary Switches

Swivel switches were actively used in the construction of houses 50 – 60 years ago, but in recent years they are used only in design-projects “under the old style” or to create interiors in the country, loft, Provence style. Generally available only for outdoor installation, used in conjunction with open wiring. Switchable by turning the lever to 90 °. 

5. Rope

Rope switches

The principle of operation of this switch is similar to the button switch: pulling the rope until it clicks, you close the contacts. Pull it a second time and open. This type of switch is mostly used in wall sconces and sometimes to turn on exhaust fans.

Rope switches are not only used for decorative purposes, they have a number of practical advantages. For example, the hanging cord is easy to find by touch in the dark, and also such switches are suitable for families with small children, a child will easily reach it and be able to turn on and off the light independently.

6. Sensor

Sensor Switches

These modern switches have a long working life, thanks to the absence of mechanical parts. It is triggered by a touch. Many models of touch-sensitive switches are equipped with additional functions, such as continuously adjusting the light or auto-off. They’re the kind of switches that people like to use in smart homes. 

7. Acoustic

These switches are also called cotton or acoustic switches. The switch is turned on by giving an audible signal of a certain volume, such as a clap of the hand. Switches of this type with a timer are installed not only in apartments, but also on the landing. In some models, there is a setting of the time after which the switch disconnects the circuit. Often acoustic switches are hidden in junction boxes and duplicated by conventional keyboards.

The main advantage of this model is obvious: with it you do not have to look for the switch in the dark by touch or walk across the apartment in muddy shoes because you forgot to turn off the light. However, such devices do not always respond from the first time and can work spontaneously, which sometimes irritates the owners.

8. Remote

Remote switches

These are switches that operate with a remote control signal. There are also some combined models, such as a touch switch with remote control. Remote switches are not very common because they are quite expensive. In addition, remote controls tend to get lost.

But there are some advantages. First, with remote switches, you don’t have to tear up the walls: you just need to arm yourself with self-tapping screws or double-sided adhesive tape and fix the switches in the right places. And no more problems with fixed wiring. And you can turn the lights on and off from anywhere in your apartment or house so you’ll feel like a light lord.

9. Walk-through

Walk-through Switches

Externally, a pass-through switch is no different from an ordinary switch, but its interior has a slightly different circuitry. Loop-through switches let you control a single appliance (or group of appliances) from different points in your space. 

For example, you have a two-story house. You walk up the stairs and turn on the light fixture that illuminates it with a switch located downstairs on the first floor. You go up to the second floor. The light on the stairs is no longer needed. If you had a regular light switch downstairs, you would either have to leave the staircase light on or go downstairs to turn it off. This is exactly the problem solved by feed-through switches: you put them at the top and bottom and control one lamp from different points.

Unfortunately, in order to fit such handy feed-through switches into the lighting system of your house or apartment, you will have to spend a lot of money and effort (compared to the classic options) because of the complex wiring scheme, the impressive amount of materials used and the high cost of the mechanisms themselves.

10. Sealed

Sealed switches are a special type of switch to be installed in rooms with high humidity or dust: saunas, saunas, showers. Also, like the moisture-proof sockets, they are classified according to the degree of protection. For example, a switch that is installed in a bath or shower must have at least IP-44 degree of protection.

11. Switch with built-in motion sensor

As the name implies, the switch, or rather the sensor connected to it, reacts to motion: the light turns on when there is a person in the sensor’s field of view, and turns off when that person disappears from it. Most of the time, the principle of operation of such sensors is based on tracking infrared radiation.

Switches with built-in motion detectors save energy. They can also be used to control the intensity of lights, turn on spotlights, sirens, security cameras, and monitor other useful equipment. Unfortunately, the price of these super mechanisms is the same.


Useful tips

  1. For bathroom and kitchen, use water-proof switches with at least IP-44.
  2. Rope switches work well in a kid’s room: A kid can easily reach the cord and he can turn on the light fast in the dark if he suddenly has a bad dream at night.
  3. Dimmers are best for the living room, since you need a different amount of light to watch TV and read a book.
  4. For your convenience, stairwells in a private home should be equipped with either loop-through switches or switches with built-in motion sensors.

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