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A Beginner's Guide to Positioning Electrical Wall Switches

Electrical Wall Switches

When it comes to installing electrical wiring, there are a lot of specific guidelines that you must follow. These rules are set by local building codes and the National Electrical Code (NEC) to ensure the safety of everyone inside the building. However, there are no such regulations about where electrical wall switches must be placed. Even still, there are routine building standards that most contractors follow. Keep reading to learn where to position the wall switches in your building. 

Switch Positioning in Standard Construction

Typically, wall switches are positioned so a person can easily reach them when they enter a room. The standard 4-inch wall box is usually placed between 48 and 52 inches for the floor. There are a few reasons why this is the industry standard. This puts the switch and wall plate covers at a height that is comfortable for people to reach when standing. Additionally, this positioning makes it easier for builders to install the wallboard while constructing the building. In new homes, standard 4-foot-wide sheets of wallboard are installed horizontally. If the switch box is installed around 48 inches from the floor, it makes measuring and cutting wallboard panels much simpler.

Switch Positioning in Special Construction

Although the standard 48- to 52-inch switch works in most situations, there are some special circumstances where this height may not be ideal. In these cases, the height can be altered to meet the needs of the person in the house best. Let’s take a closer look at some of these special situations.

One of the most common situations where you may need to alter the electrical switch height is in the home of someone with physical limitations. If one member of the household uses a wheelchair or is shorter than average, you can position the switches lower, so it is more convenient for them. ADA standards do not state a specific height at which to place wall switches. However, many builders with experience building ADA compliant homes recommend placing the switches at about 36 inches above the floor.

wall switch plate 

Another situation where the standard switch height may not work is when the electrical switch is located above a countertop. These switches vary in location depending on the age and design of the kitchen. Typically, these switches should be placed around four inches above the countertop. Usually, counters reach about 30 inches above the ground, meaning the switch should be placed around 40 inches above the floor. However, the specific height will vary from home to home. You may also need to consider where the upper cabinets fall. Some builders choose to place the switch directly in the middle of the lower and upper cabinets instead of using the four-inch rule.

Garbage disposals can also pose some unique problems. If the switch is located above the countertop, you can use the suggestions above. If, however, the switch will be placed under the sink, it should be installed as high as possible to prevent any unnecessary bending or stooping.

Consider your situation and needs to know where to place your wall switches. For any of your wall plate needs, reach out to us at Wallplate Warehouse.



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