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Identifying Light Switches in Your Home

Metallic 2-Rocker Wallplate

Wall plates are great decorative features that can make a plain room look stylish and comfortable. But wall plates suppliers provide many types of wall plates. Which type do you need? Well, that depends on the type of light switch for which you need a new wall plate.

Before you shop for wall plates decor online, make sure that you have the right type of product in mind. This guide can help you identify the type of switches that you have in your home.

Single-Pole Switches

These are easy to identify and also happen to be some of the most common light switches out there. In fact, wall plates manufacturers often produce more decorative plates for these switches than any other type.

Single-pole switches are simply those that have a single function and include only one one-off function. For example, a lone light switch on a wall is among the most common types of single-pole switches. They have a simple circuit, and toggling it on or off either connects or disconnects the circuit to provide power. They usually rely on two brass screws to conduct power through the incoming hot wire, the switch itself, and then through the outgoing hot wire to feed toward a ceiling light or other device. Modern single-pole switches also have a grounding terminal--usually a green screw.

Double-Pole Switches

These are just like the single-pole switches, except they’re designed to include two switches or outlets. You can control two functions--like the light and fan of a ceiling fan--from a single location. They’re usually made for convenience. For example, if your bathroom has ceiling lights and vanity lights, you can control both from the double-pole switch. They can switch to a 240-volt circuit at maximum and usually have a green grounding screw as well.

Three-Way Switches

These are slightly more complex than the previous types of switches. They come in pairs and allow you to control the same device--like a ceiling light--from two locations. For example, many home living rooms have three-way switches next to two opposite entrances. Someone can flip the light on or off at either entry point. 

They’re called three-way switches because there are essentially three wires that create the circuit: two from the switches to a common screw, the other connects to the device itself, like a ceiling light or vanity light.

Four-Way Switches

These are just like three-way switches, except there are four types of wires connecting to the circuit. They’re designed to allow for electrical control from three different switches. These are sometimes used to provide power to multiple outlets in a room that are switch-activated. However, these types of switches are fairly uncommon in homes. However, you can still buy decorative plates online of this variety. But you may need to find a dedicated retailer that focuses on wall plates. This may be the only way to find a variety of products for this rare switch type.

Types of Switch Designs

Light switches may also be available in various designs--in addition to the configurations described above. These include push-button switches--round knobs that you rotate or push to activate a light; toggle switches with small, protruding levers; and proximity switches, which use sensors to activate a light. There are many types of outlets, dimmers, and jacks as well. These are easy to identify on looks alone. When you shop for decorative wall plates online, just find the product with a design that matches the switch you mean to replace. Visit Wallplate Warehouse for the best deals and widest variety of decorative switch plate products.

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