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Light Switches

Light switches, dimmers and timers are mostly about personal preference. Let’s start with light switches: toggle switches are those that flip up and down, decora switches (sometimes called rocker switches) are those that rock on to off, then there are dual switches (sometimes called doogle switches) that come in both toggle and decora styles, with one switch on top of another.

Dimmers are a little different, not all dimmers can dim all lights. When looking for a dimmer for LED lights, it’s necessary to choose a dimmer capable of dimming LEDs; the same is true for CFL, compact florescent lights. Otherwise it’s back to personal preference.  There are rotary dimmers, the wheel acts as both the switch by pressing it in and the dimmer by turning clockwise or counter-clockwise. Slide dimmers, they have a button or switch that toggles left to right under the slide that moves up and down to adjust the light. Decora dimmers look very similar to the decora light switches, with an added dimmer slide next to the switch.  Toggle switches have changed over the years, they used to be more similar to a slide dimmer with a toggle look; at the top they clicked into the on position and could slide up and down, at the bottom they would click into the off position. Now, they are a toggle switch with a slide running alongside the switch. The dimmer can be pre-set and simply turned on and off, keeping the light setting untouched.


Timers can get interesting. There are all sorts floating around. They can wake with the sun or wake at sunset, or, most commonly, fall into sleep mode after time has run out. Timers can either be connected to lights or motors (like an exhaust fan). If you’re running a business and open at 10 am five days a week, you may want the lights to kick on at 9 am on business days. If you’re looking for more of a security option you may want the lights to kick on at sunset every day and run until the sun comes up. Timers can be set up in bathrooms for exhaust fans to run for a certain amount of time and turn off when time runs out.  Instead of a timer switch, perhaps you’re looking to plug something into a timer. Timers come in all shapes and sizes and in a broad range of prices.I’ll briefly go over occupancy sensors (sometimes called motion sensors) since they’re pretty straight forward. Most come with a button that can manually turn on a light or small fan and a sensor to detect movement.  When connecting an occupancy sensor to a motor, make sure the sensor can handle the amount of amps that the motor needs to operate. Sensing angles typically come between 180° and 360° and with a wide variety of ranges, common ranges are about 20-30 feet, but 1000 ft is not unheard of.