Everything you need to know about switches & sockets
Switch working explained
What is a dolly?
Our dolly switches (also known as toggle switches) is the name of the toggle-like button you use to turn the switch on or off. Ours are all 20 amp, 2-way.
What is a rocker?
This is a different style, more modern looking, sloped button that ‘rocks’ backward or forwards to turn a switch on or off. All ours are 20 amp, 2-way, 240V. We call our rockers 'Modular Grid' Switches.
What is a dimmer?
A dimmer is a button that pushes in and out to turn your lights on or off and rotates to dim the lights. Our dimmers are Varilight V-Pro 250W push On/off trailing edge dimmers.
What is a gang?
In electrical terms, a gang is the name given to the number of buttons or sockets on a switch or socket plate, e.g. a 2-gang plate has two switches, a 4-gang socket means there are four sockets on the plate.
What is a bevelled edge?
Our bevelled edge is where the switch plate is cut with a straight, slightly sloping or chamfered edge for a slimline, contemporary look.
What is a hammered edge?
Our hammered edge is where the switch plate is cut with a sloping, or chamfered edge that is hammered to produce a subtle, rustic aged look.
What is a module?
This is the plastic connector box that sits behind the metal front plate that connects your switch or socket to the mains wiring in your home?
What does it mean when a switch is two way?
A 1 way switch is the most common found in the home and means that only one switch is used to govern one light. All our switches are two way which means they can be used to operate lights from more than one location, such as the operating a stairwell light from the top and the bottom of the stairs or from either end of a room. If you need to operate your lights from a third location, you will need to fit your switches with an intermediate module.
What is an intermediate switch?
An intermediate switch or module allows you to operate your lights from three locations, so from a landing as well as from the top and bottom of the stairs in the example given above, or from either side of the bed as well as by the door in a bedroom. Intermediate switches are ideal for rooms where there are multiple entrances.
Do your dimmers work with any LED bulbs?
Yes, any bulb that falls within the wattage range of the dimmers can be used. The minimum load on the dimmer module is 10W. This means there will be no dimming effect if the combined bulb wattage is 10W or less. If the combined wattage you are using is too low, it may cause your lights to flicker.
Our dimmers can be used with
- Mains voltage incandescent GLS or candle shaped bulbs.
- Good quality dimmable electronic low voltage transformers, including those requiring trailing edge control
- GU10 or similar good quality mains halogen bulbs
- Digiflux Dimmable CFLs (special dimming mode required – see www.varilight.co.uk/digiflux-mode for more information.
- Most dimmable LEDs from established brands – www.varilight.co.uk/led for more information.
For more information on our dimmers please read our guide.
Can I put a dolly & two dimmers on the same plate?
Yes, we have a range of bespoke options you can choose from. Please ring our customer services team to discuss your requirements and obtain a quotation.
What is a fused spur switch?
These are switches that incorporate a fuse as an alternative to a conventional socket and are typically used for powerful electrical appliances that need to be installed without a plug, such as a washing machine, tumble dryer, electric heaters, dishwashers, fridges and so on.
Do I need a back box?
The answer is yes but you may already have them recessed in your walls in which case you will only need the front plate and switch mechanism. All our plates will fit UK back box types including the plastic ‘drywall’ ones. Most of our switches and all sockets require a 35mm back box with the exception of our 45amp cooker socket which needs a 47mm deep box.
I can't use a back box, what should I do?
If you are unable to sink a back box into your wall, we supply surface mounted boxes that, as the name suggests, are fixed onto your wall. They are available in four finishes, Antiqued Brass, Beeswax, Matt Black, Plain Ivory and Polished Lacquer.
What is a double pole switch?
A switch pole refers to the number of separate circuits that a single switch can control. A single-pole switch controls one circuit. A double-pole switch or isolator controls two separate circuits with one knob while and a triple pole will operate three circuits with a single knob.
Most double pole switches are 20 Amp and used for integrated items such as fridges, washing machines, wall heaters showers and immersion heaters. The 10 Amp triple pole isolators are used for items like extractor fans in toilets and kitchens.
What is a round pin socket?
We make 5 amp and 2 amp round pin plug sockets which can be used for all types of lighting and are often installed on the lighting circuit and controlled by remote wall-mounted light switches. The round pins prevent other appliances from being plugged in (many appliances draw more power than the lighting circuit can deliver) but they do not have the option of a switch.
What is a blank plate used for?
Blank plates are useful for covering unused back boxes that may remain in your walls as they are not currently required in that location.