Planning out which sockets and switches you require for your home or project can lead to many different questions around the finish, style and functionality. One common question around functionality is ‘Do I need single pole or double pole switches?’

Browse all double pole switches

What Is A Pole?

The pole of a switch refers to the amount of separate circuits that switch can control. Single pole switches can control just one circuit and a double pole switch can control two circuits. So a double pole switch is almost like having two single pole switches, controlled by the same switch.

Single Pole Switch

What Are Single Pole Switches?

Single pole switches are common, simple light switches. They control one circuit and offer a regular off and on function. Most switches in a typical home tend to be single pole. Double pole switches are more common in industrial settings or factories, however they can be used as a safety shut-off for a residential appliance.

What Are Double Pole Switches?

The wires that feed electricity to double pole switches tend to be larger than the wires that feed to single pole switches, as double pole switches are often used to control 240V circuits.

Double Pole Switch

Double pole switches make it possible to isolate appliances safely. They tend to be used for appliances with heavy loads like cookers and showers. It is important that you check the rating of your product, however, as there are various types of double pole switches. A 20A double pole switch is likely to be only suitable for small ovens, whereas regular ovens are likely to need a 45A DP switch.

Another reason to use a double pole switch is due to regulations that mean you need to have local means of isolation for certain products. So the double pole isolator isolates one particular socket that is behind a fridge for example.

If you are looking to buy sockets and switches, read our guides to choosing the right ones: Matching Switch and Socket Finishes to Interior Design Styles; Switch & Socket Function & Selection – What do I need?

What is a double pole socket?

A double pole socket switches both the live and neutral to ensure safe isolation of the plugged in appliance.

How does a double pole switch work?

A double pole switch switches both the live and neutral to ensure safe isolation of the load circuit.

How many wires can be on a single pole switch?

In theory you would only have 1-2 permanent live feeds and 1+ load lives. There are a number of different ways to wire lighting or isolation circuits so there could be a number of different combinations.

Does a single pole switch need to be grounded?

A switch module does not require grounding but the yoke and faceplate must always be grounded if the faceplate is made from metal. Most plastic switch plates do not need grounding due to it being a class 2 product.

Do I need a double pole or single pole socket?

Whilst a single pole socket is generally cheaper it is always preferred that customers/electricians install double pole sockets for safer isolation of the plugged in appliances.

What is the difference between a 2 pole and 3 pole switch?

The difference is simply the amount of poles being switched.

Are single pole sockets safe?

Single pole sockets are perfectly legal and are safe for many appliances, but it is safer to use double pole sockets. Therefore is always better to use double pole sockets in all situations.

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