Switches and dimmers buying guide

 

Switches and dimmers are now available online. Our buying guide will give you information on the types available and the way in which they function.

Switches and sockets

Several types of switchgear are available online including brushed metal and decorative switches.

Most are available in both 1 and 2 gang and 1 and 2 way.

  • Gang refers to the number of switches on the switch plate.
  • Way refers to the number of switches chosen to activate the light. Any light controlled by one switch is one way. Any light controlled by two switches requires a two way switch (eg one at the foot of the stairs and one at the top).

 

Dimmers

Dimmer Switches provide a relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated way to vary the intensity of light in a room. Dimmers can be used to great effect in living and dining rooms where dramatic changes of mood can be created. They are also of benefit in bedrooms, especially in those of small children who are afraid of the dark.

The dimming of bulbs can also save energy, as dimming a bulb's light output will normally reduce its energy consumption.

Dimming a light fitting

There are several methods of dimming a fitting:

Touch Dimmer: This is a safe, modern way of dimming lights and works by “induction”. Touching the light either dims the light to off or dims the light in stages (eg full, medium, dim and off). This is also available on modern switch plates and works in a similar way.

Switch Dimmer: This may be an “in-line” dimmer switch affixed to a floor or table lamp and worked by hand or foot. Alternatively this could be a rotating switch also commonly found on wall switch plates.

Remote Dimmer: This is generally a wall plate with a touch sensitive switch which will also work by remote control. A remote control will normally control more than one remote dimmer switch and can be “trained” to remember the lighting level on each one.

 

Frequently asked questions

What wattage rating do I need?

Both switches and dimmers have maximum wattage ratings, i.e. the total wattage to be used by the switch/dimmer (eg 1x 10 arm light rated at 20 watt each = total 200 watts) and should NOT exceed this. Some mains voltage Halogen lights require dimmers that run at double their total wattage. Please consult a qualified electrician for further advice.

Why does my dimmer buzz?

Some wall mounted switches will emit an annoying hum when turned to their lowest setting. This is quite normal but will vary in intensity between the type of dimmer and the type of lighting unit being dimmed. Reducing the bulb wattage may be a solution but trying a different dimmer switch may also alleviate the problem.

Can I use a dimmer with fluorescent lighting (energy saving bulbs CFL)?

No, fluorescent lighting (energy saving bulbs) cannot normally be dimmed.

 

How do I dim Halogen Lighting?

All mains voltage halogen bulbs can be dimmed but may require a dimmer of higher wattage than the total wattage of the light fitting they are dimming. All low voltage Halogen bulbs (eg G4, G6.35 and G5.3 types) may require special dimmers dependant on their transformer type. All our dimmers are rated for both mains and low voltage halogen bulbs by adding up the total wattage for the lights on your circuit, this should not exceed a maximum of 400 watts.

This excludes CFL (energy saving bulbs except dimmable types) Note: Luminaires with wire-wound type transformers are not dimmable.

Important notice: We recommend that all switches and dimmers should be fitted by a qualified electrician. Please consult your electrician for the correct type of dimmer required for your light fitting.