What Are Some Different Types of Light Switches?

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Light switches come in several types, including single-pole, three-way switches, multilocation switches, double switches and dimmers. Various features can be combined with these types of switches, including timers, time-delay mechanisms and motion sensors. Some light switches are placed on the same panel as electrical outlets.

Single-pole light switches are the most common type of switch. These switches control one light fixture from one location. They are easy to install and feature either the traditional toggle switch or the more modern rocker switch.

Three-way switches control one light fixture from two separate locations. They are typically used for hallway and stairway light fixtures. Four-way switches also exist, as do multilocation switches that control single light fixtures from several locations. These are typically used in very large rooms.

Double switches control two or more light switches from one electrical box. These are more difficult to install because they require sufficient room for extensive wiring.

Dimmer switches are available in single-pole, three-way and multilocation versions. They allow the user to control the level of light coming from the light fixture.

Features combined with light switches allow for multipurpose use and are often chosen for security reasons. Timers allow the user to program an activation time for a light switch. Time-delay switches turn on a light for a designated time, at which point the light turns off automatically. Motion sensors turn lights on whenever motion is detected in a designated area.