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?
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
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
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.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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
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.
Well my buddy came by and we replaced the old switches with some new Decora
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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