Wall plates can be functional, beautiful, or even both beautiful and functional. In fact, the sheer variety of wall plates you can find online may seem a little bit overwhelming at first. Fortunately, there are a few basic parts to identify to help you determine precisely what you need. With a little bit of guidance, it shouldn't be difficult for you to determine your specific needs and settle on a choice.
Gang or Width
The term "gang" simply refers to the width of a cover plate. This is an easy way to help you identify your openings. A 1 gang has room for a single device, such as a single switch, an outlet, or a dimmer. With a 2 gang, there's room for two devices. If you have a 3 gang, there's enough space for three devices. You could have up to 10 gangs, but this is usually uncommon.
Usually, you'd think that switches, outlets, and dimmers are pretty easy to identify, but there are many different styles of switches. The toggle is the one you're probably able to spot the easiest. It simply goes up and down. Usually, the words on and off are actually written on it. The Decora, also known as a rocker or paddle, is fairly common as well. It's smooth and slightly raises to the bottom or top. When wired correctly, hitting the top is on and the bottom is off. Some people prefer this smoother or more modern look for the switch.
Despard switches have three different openings. They can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Horizontal switches sometimes have a pair of openings instead. You've probably seen these for controlling fans and lights from the same location. Horizontal toggles aren't uncommon. If you have an older home, there may be odd-looking switches. Low voltage switches also tend to look a bit different. It's probably worth identifying these, especially if you require replacement parts.
A duplex outlet opening is by far the most common in residences. It has two plugs, sockets, or receptacles. It's often simply referred to as an outlet. The duplex has two oval-shaped openings. The block outlet opening is squared, but it typically has two plugs or sockets as well. GFCI and GFI are interchangeable terms for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt. You've probably seen these in your bathroom. You'll notice that these have reset buttons in between the sockets or plugs. This allows it to be reset if it gets overloaded. These are most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms. The round outlet opening is certainly less common. A single 20A round outlet fits plates with a 1.4" round opening. Despard outlet openings are also uncommon. These 15A 125V outlets fit plates with smaller oval openings when compared to the more standard duplex outlets. Additionally, they can be stacked to fit 3 outlets on a single plate, which can be quite convenient.
Dimmer openings come in a few basic varieties. The slide is fairly self-explanatory. A rocker dimmer looks similar to the rocker light switch. The rotary dimmer is basically a knob. Additionally, the push button dimmer looks much like a push-button light switch. However, the toggle dimmer is distinctly different. It features a small slider on the side of the toggle switch.
Before you invest in screwless wall plates, it's a good idea to know the sort of openings you have so that you can match them accordingly. Contact Wallplate Warehouse at 888-643-3744 if you have any questions or would like to know more.