There are many different light switches available, but it can be hard to know which one is best for your home. Some people prefer the simple and classic toggle switch, while others love the convenience of a paddle or dimmer switch.
Different light switches serve different purposes, and some may not even apply to your situation.
In this article, we will cover all the major types of light switches so that you can make an informed decision when choosing new lighting for your home.
In this article:
- 1. Australian Rocker Switches
- 2. Ceiling Light Fixtures
- 3. Decorative or Rocker Switch
- 4. Dimmer Light Switch
- 5. Double-Pole Switch [Four-Way Switch]
- 6. Illuminated Switch
- 7. Mercury Switch
- 8. Motion-Activated Light Switches
- 9. Multiway Switches
- 10. Photoelectric Light Switch
- 11. Pole Receptacle Combo Switch
- 12. Proximity Light Switch
- 13. Pull Cord Switch
- 14. Push Button Light Switch
- 15. Recessed Light Switch
- 16. Selector Light Switch
- 17. Single-Pole Switch
- 18. Smart Switch
- 20. Sound Activated Light Switches
- 21. Three-Way Switch
- 22. Toggle Light Switch
- 23. Touch-Plate Switch
- 24. Track Lighting
- 25. Vandal Resistant Switch
- 26. Wireless Light Switch
- FAQs on types of light switch
1. Australian Rocker Switches
These are the smaller variants of the rocker switch. The Australian rocker switch is one of the most popular types of switches in Australia and New Zealand.
These switches are mainly used for lighting control purposes, such as ceiling lights, cabinet lighting, or any other light with rocker-type LEDs attached to it. These switches are very similar to the toggle switch in terms of functionality and use.
However, they are smaller than toggle switches. Thus, may be less ideal for locations with a lot of space restrictions requiring an oversized switch. These types of switches are compact, slim, and easy to use.
2. Ceiling Light Fixtures
Ceiling light fixtures are one of the most common types of light fixtures that you will find in any house or building. These fixtures are placed on the ceiling of a room, hallway, and more. They usually consist of several bulbs that light up an entire area for general lighting purposes.
Ceiling light fixtures come in two types. Those with a lampshade attached to their fitting and those without. It’s easier to install a ceiling light fixture without a lampshade, which is attached to their fitting using screws.
Other than lighting up your space, ceiling light fixtures can also be a decoration in some cases
So if you are looking for lighting that can complement your home decor, try out ceiling light fixtures. They are readily available, so finding one that fits your particular style shouldn’t be difficult.
3. Decorative or Rocker Switch
Decorative switches are commonly used in homes and residential areas. They offer the same function as a toggle, although they are more appealing than the toggle light switches.
They are flat switches that tend to occupy a larger surface. They are known as decorative switches in the United States.
They are also more common than toggle in India, Singapore, Europe, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Another great advantage of this type of light switch is that it is easy to use and easy on your eyes. Kids also have the ease of using them because they don’t require any skill.
4. Dimmer Light Switch
A dimmer switch is used to control the amount of light that you want your bulb or fixture to give in your home.
It’s a type of switch specially designed for the lights and allows more variation in lighting level. With a dimmer light, you can lower the brightness of your light without turning it off completely.
The dimmer control can be rotating or even sliding. Here are different types of a dimmer light switches:
Multi-Location Dimmer Switch
This type of switch is mounted at the center top position, allowing it to control two or perhaps more lights. For example, if you have installed a dimmer light switch in your kitchen, this device will let you turn on and off lights throughout your home.
You’ll find three buttons or knobs that begin from right to left, with each set controlling one light fixture.
These types of dimmers are easily accessible in the dark. They are ideal for table and floor lamps. You’ll find a couple of varieties of this dimmer – corded and cordless.
The plug-in form can be easily wall-mounted, or perhaps desktop installed. The latter is lightweight, so you can take it with you when you need to shift the lamp from one room to another.
Single-Location Dimmer Switch
This type of dimmer switch can be mounted at the center top position only or even the left-top position. This is installed for single location use and cannot control two lights simultaneously. You’ll find a slider or knob that controls just one light fixture.
Smart Dimmer Switch
Smart dimmer switches are battery-operated and can be controlled by your smartphone. It turns on and off your light from anywhere in the world or even schedules when your home will be well lit for you once you return.
To use this technology, there should still be some current lighting fixtures compatible with the smart switch.
Three-Way and Four Way Dimmer Switch
There are three-way and four-way dimmer switches that can control a number of light fixtures simultaneously. When you turn the knob for these types, you’ll notice that the lights get brighter or darker in several rooms.
One power source outlet only allows this as it’s connected to two wires (jumper wire). Furthermore, these types of dimmer are also compatible with various types of loads.
5. Double-Pole Switch [Four-Way Switch]
Double-pole switch is very common in the medical industry and commercial applications. The switches connect separately to two electric circuits. They have two switches that are connected and can complete the circuit either simultaneously or staggered.
This switch is usually available in two and three independent circuits. The main disadvantage of this type of switch is that it requires a different control than the single-pole one.
6. Illuminated Switch
This type of switch has become very popular in many households since its introduction. Its main purpose is to help people find switchboards in the dark.
It has a small neon lamp on the surface which glows whenever the switch is turned on. It can also be used with other switches and has a light control to turn it off.
This switch has replaced older ones in many homes because of its ease of use, low manufacturing costs, and versatile applications. However, these illuminated switches are not very durable and need replacement after a few years.
7. Mercury Switch
Don’t let go of the mercury switch if you’re looking for a home lighting solution switch. When you connect them, they don’t snap loudly like spring-loaded toggle switches. The connecting link between two circuits is a glass capsule containing a small amount of mercury.
Mercury switches provide the best conversion of the lighting switches. The lifespan of a mercury switch is also about 20 years.
If there’s an issue with the mercury switch, the circuit will not be broken or interrupted. In addition to this, its electrical contacts do not touch each other when they are idle. This prevents oxidation and shorts circuits in these switches.
8. Motion-Activated Light Switches
Electricity is one of the most important sources of power, but to use it for various purposes, we need a source of power.
Motion-activated switches are an excellent option if you want all your lights to be turned on as soon as someone comes home or leaves from home. In this way, excess energy can be saved.
9. Multiway Switches
The three-way switches are ideal for single pole and multi-pole circuits. These enable you to control a set of lights from more than one location in your home.
For instance, with the help of these switches, you can turn on the outdoor porch lamp from inside your house and from outside it.
Multiway switches use additional contacts and wiring to control a single light from multiple locations.
You can perfectly install them in your hallways and stairways to help control lights there. They are very convenient when it comes to controlling lighting in the hallways and stairways.
10. Photoelectric Light Switch
A photoelectric light switch works on the basis of time. You can set it to come into action at different times of the day.
It is also helpful during power outages when you do not want to use candles or flashlights for lighting purposes. This type of light switch can commonly be used in street lights.
You can also use it in your backyards, porches, and any other outdoor areas at your home. They are good for these areas because the light turns on immediately, and the sensor detects that the outside light is getting low.
So if you’re looking for a light that can automatically come on when it’s getting dark, then get yourself a photoelectric light switch.
With this type of light switch, you don’t have to fumble around and trip on objects while trying to switch on the light. The light comes on whenever you want it to be on.
11. Pole Receptacle Combo Switch
A pole receptacle combo switch is basically for outdoor use. It’s a plastic-type cover that you can mount on the outside of your home or an electrical box.
These are great because they’re made of durable plastic, so they won’t rust even if you leave them outdoors year-round.
The Pole receptacle combo switch is very convenient as it saves time and space. Don’t let your kitchen and bathroom become dark when you can purchase this type of light switch.
12. Proximity Light Switch
This is one of the best and easiest light switches to use, even for a beginner. Just tell this switch who you are, and it will remember its owner’s keystrokes.
When you want to cut down on wasting energy at home, try these light switches. The switch turns on the light when you’re in a room, but the proximity light switch will turn things off when nobody is in the room.
With this type of light, you can easily save energy. You also don’t have to bother to switch the light when entering the room.
With environmental concerns all over the world, you need to cut down on your energy consumption. And another way to achieve that is using this type of light switch. This can also save you some money on your monthly energy bills.
The type of light switch is very helpful when you have small children in the house. They tend to forget about turning off the light when they leave a room, so they will not be able to turn off the lights anymore by using this switch. It’s like if someone else is turning them off for you, and it’s even more effective than an alarm.
13. Pull Cord Switch
Most people love old houses, but sometimes they are a bit too old. That’s why you need to make some changes to make the house more comfortable for living in or even just visiting.
One of the important things about old homes is that their switches look, well, old and rusty. The solution is to replace them with this type of light switch.
Pull cord switch is the most used switch among households. You can operate it by pulling a cord that is attached to a toggle switch. You can use this type of switch in operating light fixtures in your basements and garage. It is also used in holiday cabins and attics.
The pull cord switch is the most practical and simple solution that you can use. It’s small, easy to operate, low profile as well as affordable. You can find many different models of this type of switch with different variations of looks. This includes those made from premium products such as stainless steel.
14. Push Button Light Switch
This is the second most popular light switch in many households after the toggle. Apart from being light fixtures, they can also be wired to exhaust fumes. This light switch has a two-button; the one closes the contacts while the other one opens up.
When the raised button is pushed, it closes or opens up, causing the previous depressed button to pop out. This allows the process to reverse.
15. Recessed Light Switch
These switches control the lights below a counter, table, or floor via the recessed plate. A few examples of such areas include kitchen sinks and bathroom vanities.
They are generally installed as pairs with a short wire connecting them in parallel. When installing these types of light switches, ensure they have adequate clearance from floors.
Don’t hesitate to call an electrician to finish the job if you feel comfortable doing it yourself. It’s also important to stay safe when working with electricity.
Ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you begin the installation. Create the right vibe at home by using recessed lighting to its full potential.
16. Selector Light Switch
This type of switch is very important when you’re trying to set up lighting with two different models. It allows the user to change between two different settings. This may be a huge benefit for hallways that need both daylight and lighting at night.
They can also be used in stairwells if one side of the staircase needs light during the day and another part of it requires lighting at night.
Selector light switches also come in different types, and the most typical one is the rotary switch. It functions as a dial, allowing you to switch between different models.
The other one is the selector, which has different buttons to press. But whatever type you choose, ensure you get the one that suits your needs.
17. Single-Pole Switch
A single-pole switch, as the name implies, is just one pole. This means that it can be used to control different lights separately.
It’s commonly found in hallways where you only need one light in a room rather than installing wall switches for every table lamp and pendant lamp.
Single-pole switches are very common in many homes. They are the most common switches you see around. They have on and off markings on their toggle switch.
If you come across the one without these markings, then you’ll find up, meaning on and down, meaning off.
18. Smart Switch
Some switches are smarter than others, as the name implies. Those with a smart switch can connect to your home network and control different lights with a remote or an app.
Smart switches require professional installation. This makes them more expensive than other types of light switches.
So if you have know-how plus some good money, try out this expensive type of light switch.
20. Sound Activated Light Switches
Motion-activated sensors are good for the outdoors as they help you turn lights without getting up. This is not the case with sound-activated light switches.
They are good for indoor use and not outdoors. They can automatically turn on the light fixtures by just detecting sound. For example, you can turn on the light fixture by clapping your hands.
One of the best advantages of sound-activated light switches is that you cannot fumble around the dark room looking for a light switch. Because it is pitch dark and there are no lights on.
You have to go into the room, then close the door. Only then can you find a light switch in the dark to turn off the lights. And when you leave, you have to take this extra step again.
Thanks to technology, there are many automatically activated light switches options. A good example is this sound-activated light switch allowing you to switch on the light easily.
21. Three-Way Switch
Consider a three-way switch if you want to control a light switch from two different locations. Three-way switches are used in pairs and don’t come with on and off switches because they will differ since switches are used.
It also has three terminal screws placed in two different rooms and has a large vertical bar connected to the frame of the box.
In many cases, it comes with an indicator light that indicates if it is on or off. Most times, people use it when they want to control a light from different places. You can use this type of light switch in places such as hallways, garages, basements, and entryways.
22. Toggle Light Switch
These switches are designed for use in the place of a standard wall switch. This allows the user to control things such as TVs and computers from any point in an open space.
They come equipped with an attachment that allows them to mount on walls, allowing one to turn lights on and off from anywhere within that room.
You can also attach handle extensions to the toggle handles that look too small to make them easy to use. If you’re planning to install light switches in a new home, then toggle switches are the best option.
A toggle-flip switch is very simple to use. It has a toggle on one end and a sliding bar on the other. By flipping the toggle up, you will turn it on, whereas turning it down will turn it off.
23. Touch-Plate Switch
A touch-plate switch is a special type of wall-mounted light switch that you can find in many modern homes. They are similar to toggle switches, except they do not require flipping up and down; instead, they get activated when the user touches the plate.
They are usually touch-sensitive so that they can recognize the difference between your finger and other objects.
They are very easy to operate as they only require a mere touch on the switch plate. You also don’t have to snap parts while controlling the lights, making it the quiet type of light switch.
24. Track Lighting
A track lighting is a light fixture built across the ceiling supported by steel tracks. It uses individual spotlights instead of one main light.
The advantages of this type are; you can control each light separately and adjust where they point to. That’s why this is usually used in art galleries and lounges.
25. Vandal Resistant Switch
This is a new type of light switch that uses a fingerprint recognition system to operate, making it vandal-proof. It usually incorporates an LCD screen and touchpad for control purposes. The good thing about this light switch is that you can use them even with wet hands.
This type of light switch is designed to be used in apparatuses utilized by the general public. You can find it in pedestrian light crossing signals and vending machines. It is also used in electrical devices such as security alarms and power tools.
They’re good at enduring heavy duties, thanks to their stainless steel protection. They’re highly resistant to moisture, dirt, and elements.
26. Wireless Light Switch
It is designed to function without the use of a wire. They have their power supply and can work as wireless light switches in areas with no existing wiring. A large number of security alarms utilize this kind of light switch because it is very convenient and easy to install.
These are among the most popular types of light switches today. They also offer other capabilities such as dimming and color selection. You can control them with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi from your smartphone, thanks to the improved technology.
FAQs on types of light switch
What are the four types of switches?
The four types of switches include single pole single throw, single pole double throw, double pole single throw, and double pole double throw.
What are the five types of switches?
The five types of switches include single pole single throw switch, single pole double throw switch, double pole single throw switch, double pole double throw switch, and push-button switch.
What are the six types of light switches?
The six different types of switches include pressure, proximity, light, joystick, selector, and speed switches.
What is the difference between one-way and two-way light switches?
One way and two way light switches differ in the following ways:
- One-way switches allow current to pass only in one direction, while two-way switches pass in both directions.
- A single throw light switch can be operated on a single plane, while 2-way is a double-axis type of switch, which means
How many types of switches are there?
Switches are of different types, including Australian Rocker Switches, Ceiling Light Fixtures, Dimmer Light switches, Multiway Switches, Toggle Switches, and Smart Switches. These are just a few; you can read the article to get to know all of them.
As you can see, there are many different types of light switches that you can choose from. Whether you’re looking for something affordable, expensive, and can add some style to your property, you’ll find the best light switch that fits your purpose.
All you need to do is look for the one that suits your purpose and get the job done. You can also call in an electrician to help you install if you’re not comfortable installing yourself.