Standard electric wall switches consist of a mounting box into which the cable is fed and a faceplate comprising of terminals and a switch. The number of switches on the faceplate is referred to in terms of one-gang switch, two-gang switch, three-gang switch or four-gang switch. Wall switches can be surface-mounted or fitted flush to the wall, but the appropriate mounting box will need to be fitted. Switches can be plastic or metal.
Plastic switches are the most frequently fitted and do not have an earth terminal on the back of the faceplate (it will be in the mounting box).
Metal switches are more decorative and are made either from brass, chrome or stainless steel. All metal switches must have an earth terminal on the back of the faceplate.
Pull cord switches
Pull cord switches consist of a cord attached to a spindle, which completes or breaks the circuit to control a light or appliance. This is housed in a protective plastic covering and mainly found in bathrooms although they can also be fitted in bedrooms.
Dimmer switches do more than simply turn lights on and off, they vary the level of light. Most are operated by a knob or sliding mechanism but they are now also available with a touch plate control, sensor, or remote control. Although standard dimmer switches cannot be used with fluorescent lighting, some are suitable for use with low-voltage halogen lights.
Slim, long switches are available for fitting on door architraves or where there is insufficient space for a normal switch. Faceplates can be either a one-gang or two-gang switch. As with standard switches architrave switches can either be flush or surface-mounted.
Remote control switches
A hand-held, battery operated control unit sends an infra-red signal to a wall-mounted receiver. For the remote control switch to work the wall-mounted receiver must be in sight and no more than a distance of 15 metres (50 feet) away. Remote control switches will have a manual override and some may have the capability to dim the light as well.