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Light switches are the last thing you may think about when considering interior lighting design. However, there’s much more to light switches than just turning lights on and off.
Modern light switches can add to your home’s overall decor. There’s a wide range of light switch technologies and designs to choose from.
Our detailed guide covers some common types of light switches you should consider for your home.
Table of Contents
21 Types of Light Switches
1. Rocker Switch
A rocker switch is a flat switch placed on a big surface.
Although rocker switches work like toggle switches, rocker switches are appealing, which is why some people refer to them as decorative switches. Additionally, they protrude out of the wall, but not as much as toggle switches.
You’ll find this type of switch in most homes.
2. Australian Rocker Switch
The Australian Rocker Switch is a small version of the original rocker switch. These types of switches are common in New Zealand and Australia.
Australian Rocker switches are small and can fit easily in small spaces.
3. Single Pole Switch
A single pole switch is another common switch in most homes. This type of switch turns the light on and off. While some have markings to indicate on and off, some don’t.
For those without markings, on is up and down means off.
Single pole switches are inexpensive, simple to install, and easy to use, which makes them common.
4. Double Pole Switch
A double pole switch is another common switch used to control high-powered appliances.
You’ll find it in garages and industries with high voltage machines. Like single pole switches, the double pole switch allows you to run two connections from a single location. These switches can handle devices up to 240 volts.
5. Toggle Switch
A toggle light switch is a traditional type of switch that’s common in most homes. These switches are simple to install, and you can find them in many applications.
Also known as a flip switch, a toggle switch has two contacts underneath, and you can flip it to break or make these contacts.
It’s also easy to operate, as you only click it up or down to turn on lights and flip it down to switch them off. Toggle light switches are ideal for general lighting.
Although toggle switches are standard, modern ones have unique features that allow you to set up timers that turn on lights at a particular time. In contrast, others allow Alexa integration for convenience.
6. Illuminated Switch
An illuminated switch has a small LED light or neon lamp on the surface powered by passing a current through the circuits. The purpose of illuminated switches is to make them easier to find in the dark.
For example, when you need to visit the washroom at night in a hurry, having an illuminated switch allows you to find your way there and switch on the lights. Illuminated switches are mostly fitted in the kitchen and bathroom.
7. Push Button Light Switch
Push button light switches are common where there are vanity lights and in bathrooms where exhaust fans are fitted.
Like a toggle switch, a push button switch is common in most homes due to its ease of use and installation.
There are two types of push button switches. On one type, the switch returns immediately to its initial position after pushing it. With the other type, the user must press the switch again to return it to its original position.
Modern push button switches have LED indicators that alert you when the light is off or on.
8. Motion-Activated Light Switch
Motion-activated light switches are often used where there are security lights. The switch activates the light when it detects any motion.
These switches have a passive infrared sensor that detects movement from people, pets, or items. The body heat or change in sound wave pattern sets off infrared radiation.
Most motion-activated light switches can turn lights on or off, while some can be set to only turn the lights on.
You can fit these switches into your backyard, porch, or garden to keep intruders and animals away. These light switches can also be installed inside your home.
9. Selector Light Switch
Selector switches come in handy when setting up lighting with two different modes.
A selector light switch selects settings for a fan or light bulb. You can use it to switch between colored lights. You can use a selector light switch to choose the fan’s speed settings with a fan.
You’ll mostly find selector switches as push button switches or rotary switches, with push buttons being commonly used in lighting circuits. The rotary switch works like a dial, as it allows you to change between different modes.
10. Pull Chain/Pull Cord Switch
Most ceiling fans and basement lights use a pull chain or a pull cord switch.
These switches have a cord or chain that pulls the chain to activate the light. Pulling the chain a second time turns off the light.
11. Photoelectric Light Switch
A photoelectric light switch allows you to set the lights into action at different times based on the amount of daylight present. It’s mostly used in streetlights.
The switch can also be used in porches, backyards, and any outdoor setting in your home. A sensor detects low light outside and immediately turns on the light.
You should get this type of light switch if you need a light that comes on automatically when it gets dark.
12. Three-Way Switch
You should get the three-way switch if you plan to control one light from two different places.
The three-way switch doesn’t have an on/off switch and is used in pairs. However, there’s an indicator light that shows whether the switch is on or off. These switches are ideal for basements, garages, entryways, and hallways.
13. Four-Way Switch
Four-way switches are similar to three-way switches in terms of operation. However, the four-way switch is common in commercial areas and warehouses.
14. Smart Switch
A smart switch is an advanced technological type of switch that you can connect to your home’s WiFi network and control via an application or remote control. You can switch your lights on via an app on your phone while you’re away.
Unlike a regular toggle switch, a smart switch has a WiFi indicator light, built-in dimmer functions, and it allows you to control different load types.
15. Wireless Light Switch
Wireless light switches depend on radio communication and use handheld transmitters to operate.
Unlike most light switches, wireless light switches are ideal for places without existing wiring. Most alarms use this light switch, as it’s simple to install and convenient.
Modern wireless light switches can now be operated via WiFi or Bluetooth from your phone.
16. Multiway Switch
If you need to control circuits from various locations in your home, you need the multiway switch.
The switch is commonly used on stairways or hallways for convenience. Multiway switches have extra wiring and contacts to operate a single light from different places.
17. Sound-Activated Light Switch
Sound-activated light switches detect sound and use it to turn the lights on or off. They have a microphone with an electronic circuit that senses any sound and activates the lights.
You can control these switches by clapping, knocking, or snapping.
Although you can use sound-activated light switches for security, most people use them as decorative lights both inside and outside the house.
18. Mercury Switch
Mercury, or tilt, switches have a small amount of mercury inside and a glass bulb with two contacts. The mercury hits the two contacts once the switch is tilted; this activates the light.
Unlike conventional switches that make a clicking sound when turned on or off, mercury light switches are quiet.
19. Dimmer Switch
A dimmer light switch comes in handy when you want to set a different mood.
You need this type of switch to dim your regular lights. These switches are simple to install and allow you to set the brightness without too much effort.
Contrary to popular belief, a dimmer switch doesn’t reduce the voltage on a light bulb. It’s a switch with a circuit controlling the time the light bulb stays on.
Dimmer switches are available in multiple varieties. Some have a dial that allows you to change the light’s intensity, while others have a touch switch that, with a swipe of a finger, makes it simple to adjust light levels.
You can also find a dimmer switch that comes with a remote control. Using this, you can dim your lights at your convenience.
Note that dimmer switches only work with incandescent light bulbs. They cannot function with LED light bulbs or fluorescent bulbs.
20. Proximity Light Switch
The proximity light switch is one of the easiest switches to use. It’s a switch that turns on the light in a room and turns it off when no one’s there.
You don’t have to struggle to walk to the light switch, as the proximity light switch turns on automatically. It also saves energy and helps you cut down on your utility bills.
21. Touch-Plate Switch
Touch-plate switches don’t have a button or toggle. Instead, they use a switch plate to operate.
You don’t have to deal with noisy parts, like with most switches. You touch the plate to switch it on or off.
There are different types of light switches to choose from when considering what to use in your home.
The choice depends on your budget, style preferences, and ease of use. Our guide above will help you know what light switch works best for you.