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When to Use Cheap Light Switches

Updated: Jun. 30, 2017

A look inside the switch can help you decide

FH11DJA_LIGSWI_01-2Family Handyman
A cheap switch and an expensive switch will both turn a light on, but fixtures that draw more power require the larger, more durable parts built into the expensive switch.

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When to use expensive switches

What’s the $1.61 difference?

More expensive switches are necessary for the larger power demands caused by multiple lights or large motors.

Inside the switches

Switch heavy loads with the $2 switch. The contact area is twice that of the 39¢ switch, and the spring arm is heavier, so you’ll replace them less often.

Home centers sell 15-amp light switches for 39¢ in bins, and 15-amp switches in boxes for $2. They’ll both do the job, but the $2 switch has a beefier spring arm and larger contact surfaces. If you’re just switching a few room lights, the 39¢ switches work fine and will last a long time. But if you’re switching 10 or 15 recessed lights or a large motor (like a ventilation fan), or the switch gets used dozens of times a day, pick the $2 switches. They’ll last longer.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Switch