Last year when we totally remodeled one of our bathrooms, we had an
electrician change the light switch next to the entry door. It
used to be 2 vertical switches, one for the light and one for the
fan. We replaced that switch with a combination gfi outlet and
switch. The new switch has 2 horizontal switches stacked one above
the other, and when he installed it, it was positioned so that the
'on' position is flipped away from the door, and 'off' is flipped
towards the door. This seemed a natural way to have the switch go
on and off.
A short while ago, we had a different electrician do some work, in
which he split one large looped electrical line into 2. During
this process, he removed the bathroom switch, and when he put it back
up, he placed it the other way, so that now the 'on' position is
towards the door, and 'off' is away.
Is there any standard way to install horizontal light switches by the
entry door? I preferred it when it was flipped on by pushing away
from the door. Or, is this like toilet paper - rolling off the
top or off the back is simply a matter of preference?
BTW, when we first bought the house, yet a different electrician put
new slider and flip switches at the entry to each bedroom, and he also
positioned them with 'on' away from the door.
I don't believe code specifies a particular orientation. I think it's as
you suggest, a matter of personal preference. If I read this aright,
though, you now have two switches, one of which has 'on' one way and the
other going the other way. I would at least pick one and flip it so that
both are oriented the same way. If you have an established pattern
elsewhere in the house, as your last para suggests, it would probably be
well to ensure that pattern is followed consistently throughout the house.
I have to confess I've never encountered this one; I tend to prefer
vertically-oriented Decora switches at home, and onboard ship, we use
rotary switches in big brass boxes - gives the youngsters something to
polish for morning cleaning stations :-D
"Take sides! Always take sides! You may sometimes be wrong - but the man
who refuses to take sides must *always* be wrong! Heaven save us from
I take it those switches are inside the john, and while I've never
thought about it before, I think "your" way seems more natural.
But you got me thinking...Here in the Boston area bathroom light
switches are mostly outside the door, not inside. Adn when I moved here
50+years ago you never saw one inside the bathroom.
I think that may have stemmed from some safety issue about not having
anything "electrical" you could touch with one hand while your other
hand was on a metal plumbing fixture or under running water. But I guess
GFCI circuits probably eliminated that requirement.
Now, if they could only find some way to eliminate the "requirement"
that main streets here in Red Sox nation never have strret signs telling
you their names, save at town lines or when the strret name changes,
while all the cross streets have signs, I'd be able to die a happy man.
Well, I think I have a new, consistent approach to the horizontal
light switch problem.
I'm going to make sure they all flip 'On' to the right, 'Off' to the
It turns out that's the way they all used to be (orientation with
respect to doors was just a coincidence), until the electrician
swapped the bathroom switch.
Thanks for the input. Any electricians out there who can say
whether there is a correct 'code' requirement?
There definitely is not a code requirement. It's not an electrical safety
issue in any respect, so the Code doesn't care. Totally a matter of personal
preference. My preference is to flip the switch away from the door (i.e. into
the room) to turn the lights on as I enter, and toward the door (i.e. out of
the room) to turn them off as I leave. Seems to make more sense to me.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Another possibility is to replace the duplex rocker switches with duplex
toggle type, which come in standard or decora style. These still say "on"
and "off" on the handle :
We replaced that switch with a combination gfi outlet and
Yep, that's how I did mine as well. Makes sense; as you enter the room, the
switch moves away from you (is pushed on), and as you leave, the switch
moves towards you (is pulled off).
Oh, and TP should come off from the top of the roll. ;)
In my previous life as a math teacher, I had a section on "Positives and
Negatives". It goes like this:
Up is positive, down is negative.
North is positive, South is negative.
East is positive, West is negative.
Big is positive, small is negative.
Clockwise is positive, counterclockwise is negative.
Right is positive, left is negative.
Red is positive (pretty color), black is negative (ugly color).
... repeat ad infinitum ...
This principle is applied to most things in life, either explicitly or
by accident. It seems to be part of human nature. Applying the principle
to switches, ON would be either UP or RIGHT, and OFF would be either
DOWN or LEFT. This will please most people.
Of course, there are exceptions: red is negative on a stoplight, but
positive on a battery; clockwise is positive on a switch, but negative
when measuring angles.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Miller) wrote on 22 Jul 2007 in group
That was handled as an exception. I mentioned it in a part you snipped.
This was for sixth-graders, so it seldom came up, geometry not being
introduced for a couple more years.
It's been years since I did anything with DC current other than replace
a battery, so I did a Google search for red/black positive/negative
before I posted. The first site I found said black was negative, and I
quit there. Stupid me for believing it.
Even though I make my living as a handyman, I tell every new customer I
don't do anything that requires a license. In Texas, that's mostly
electrical and plumbing installations.
And so is red.
For the benefit of those who are by now thoroughly confused...
In the US and Canada, the following color codes apply to AC wiring:
Ground: uninsulated, green, or green with a yellow tracer
Neutral: white or gray
Hot: absolutely anything else, but usually black or red
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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