Switches & Sockets Buying Guide
When I started my electrical apprenticeship in 1976 there were only two main brands of wall switches & sockets for homes available in New Zealand, PDL (NZ) and Ring-Grip (Australia). Now there are literally dozens of competing switchgear options and the choice is bewildering. I am going to discuss some of the most important things to consider when choosing.
First, I think it’s important to identify priorities. Are you wanting the most stylish, the slimmest, the safest, the most practical?
Stylish is an option from most manufacturers and can range from simply changing the switch cover to another colour, to metal or glass switch plates. PDL’s Iconic series features translucent-edged cover plates in a range of plastic and metal finishes which are very easy for the home owner to change or update.
Slim profile switches (the switch protrudes from the wall only a few millimetres) are available from a number of manufacturers now and can look great but you need to consider the extra labour involved in fitting some brands which can be considerable on a big job. PDL’s Iconic series is slimline but is also the fastest series to install.
As far as safety goes, you can discount this because all switches sold in NZ must have AS/NZS Standards approval and all do, right? The answer is no. Best to stick to the major manufacturers such as Schneider (PDL & Clipsal), HEM, Vynco Legrand especially when buying online, or make sure you have the correct documentation - the electrician will often need to sight documentation to be able to sign off the work, so if in doubt ask for the AS/NZS approval number before buying and then check it here: https://equipment.erac.gov.au/Public/ The Kiwisparks website guarantees compliance & documentation is available and all PDL (Schneider) switches we sell have a universal approval for peace of mind.
Which brings us to practicality. If you are buying switchgear for a whole house or large project, consider the orientation of your switches – vertical or horizontal. The most common orientation is vertical light switches and horizontal power points (double power points are generally easier to fit plugs into when fitted horizontally) but there are no rules and most brands can accommodate whichever way you choose with most of their products.
A large number of switches these days must be labelled if they are isolating the likes of appliances or heating, so check your chosen brand to see if you like the labelling method, some of them are really irritating! Personally, I think wording is easier for everyone but the trend these days is to symbols which few can readily identify.
If you’re into high-tech there are plenty of new developments with Bluetooth switch modules and dimmers, timers and sensors. PDL’s Iconic range is the best value new technology considering the sophistication, build quality and ease of installation. PDL’s 600 Series still ranks as most electrician’s favourite though, for its wide range, ease of installation and practical, common sense features.