light switch makers

I'm replacing some of the switches in my house because they are beginning to spark. So I'm trying to figure out what switches to get. Talking to my buddy who just renovated his place, and who also happens to be the Martha Stewart of the male world is telling me to get these Leviton Decra switches because they're the best. That's fine, I enjoy his sense of style and he has demonstrated a good understanding of quality over looks (I just think he spends WAYYY too much on home improvement). I guess my question is - is it worth it? Not the Decra switches, but Leviton over someone else - I see Cooper all over the place for instance. Is there a benefit to going with a premium quality switch over the ones in the "that pile over there" bin?
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Eigenvector wrote:

If spark is your concern any switch made for hospital will be choice. Switches tend to spark since most loads are inductive.
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I'm not necessarily concerned about so much as it just doesn't look safe to these untrained eyes. I got scared of the wiring in my house when I pulled a faceplate off a socket and found that they didn't even tighen the screws that hold the wires to the outlet. I've been pulling every one and inspecting it.
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That's not the fault of the switch. That's the fault of the installer. Unless you see burn marks on the screws, don't bother. Just tighten properly. Or if you're really concerned, have an electrician come in and check things out. Sloppy workmanship like that indicates other things are likely wrong that your untrained eyes won't spot.
Leviton is a good reliable manufacturer. As are most of the others you'll see.
Yes, there is a difference between some switches and other switches. More of a difference in _grade_, not manufacturer. Standard outlets and switches are in the $0.80-$1.50 range. "Spec-Grade" are up around $3-$10, and hospital grade are much higher.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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On Tue, 8 Aug 2006 18:32:19 -0700, "Eigenvector"

To get better control of those sparks requires a special touch. You can not just use a switch because switches do not allow for the duration of contact nor the pressure applied to the contact. I'd remove the switches completely and just let the wires hang out of the wall. When you want to turn on a light, take the two wires and manually touch them together with your hands. You'll soon learn just how fast or slow to move them, and how much pressure to apply to achieve different amounts of sparking. Your goal is to do it at just the correct speed so that the wires contact each other between the AC cycles. Remember, there are 60 cycles every second, so you have 1/60th of a second to make contact. Then, the amount of pressure is important. Too loose will cause excessive sparking. Too tight will cause the wire to break. In a few months of practice you will become a pro. As a side note, you will need to form interlocking hooks on the wires so they stay together after you touch them together. That's unless you prefer to stand there and hold them whenever you want light.
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Eigenvector wrote:

All switches will spark, some you will not see some you will.
The fancy looking and expensive switches like Decra are expensive because of the way they look not function.
Most light switches and outlets in homes are super cheap contractor grade stock. The meet minimum standards.
I tend to buy commercial grade switches and outlets. I may pay twice as much as the contractor grade and they will generally look exactly the same, but they are much sturdier.
I would not bother replacing all the switches and outlets. I might replace those that are handling higher than average loads or receive more use than others.
Hint, don't use the back stab connections, which I don't believe you will find on commercial grade equipment anyway.
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Joseph Meehan

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or something like that from Leviton. They were nice switches, had to slice and dice the existing wiring as it was about 100 feet too long to stuff back in there but we managed.
The hallway switches were the worst, the builder had 5 lines routed through the double box - it was hell getting it all stuffed back in there. But at least we got rid of all those cheap ass plugs and also confirmed that my Romex wiring does NOT have a ground wire in it. Looks like I'll have to re-wire the whole house. Uhhhgg.
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