What is a three-way switch

Light switch guide - differences between the various switch types

In our light switch guide we want to explain the differences between the various switches and clarify which switch is best suited for which purpose.

Table of Contents

On-off switch

The on-off switch is the simplest variant of a light switch. It is intended to operate a single luminaire and, as the name suggests, can switch this one luminaire on or off. Simple on / off switches are suitable for smaller rooms with a light such as a basement room or the guest toilet.


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Toggle switch

A toggle switch is an on-off switch for a lamp that can be operated from 2 positions. In other words, the lamp can be switched on and off from two different points / changeover switches. The changeover switches are the most common and best-selling light switches, because they can be used as a changeover switch and also as a normal off switch.


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Cross switch

Cross switching is used for lighting when a luminaire is to be switched off from 3 or more places. Several toggle switches and a cross switch are required for this. The cross connection is often found in longer corridors or in larger living / dining areas, where a light is to be switched off and on from 3 or more places.


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Series switch

A series switch is a light switch with 2 or 3 rockers. A series switch can be used to switch several lights. Series switches are therefore often found in the bathroom, kitchen or living room. In the bathroom, for example, both the main lighting and the mirror cabinet lighting can be switched from one switch, or the main lighting and the base cabinet lighting in the kitchen can be conveniently switched from one point.


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Control switch

A control switch is an illuminated switch with an integrated glow lamp or LED lamp. Control switches are often placed on the outside of the bathroom or toilet to indicate whether the room is occupied or free. Control switches can also be used as an orientation light. Then the glow lamp on the switch lights up permanently in order to be able to find the switch more easily in the dark.


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2-way changeover switch / double changeover switch

A 2-way changeover switch is 2 changeover switches in one switch. So you save space or a frame. With a double changeover switch, 2 lights can be operated as a changeover switch.


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Button / staircase switch / bell button

The most common form of the button can be found in every stairwell switch or relay switch if more than 3 switching points are required from which you want to switch. When the button is pressed, the circuit closes and causes a reaction or something is switched. This can be a bell or a light. A spring in the switch causes the rocker switch to return to its original position after actuation and immediately interrupts the circuit again.


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Illuminated staircase button / light button

In stairwells (especially in apartment buildings), an illuminated light button in the stairwell makes perfect sense. The function is the same as with a stairwell light button, only with the addition that the button has a control lamp which lights up when switched off so that the staircase switch can also be found in the dark.


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Shutter switch

The roller shutter / blind switch is intended for the operation of a roller shutter / blind. It either has a rocker or 2 separate rockers for "up / down". The advantage of the roller shutter switch compared to the shutter button is that you only have to press the switch once, and the shutter moves up or down to the end. With the button, the roller shutter only moves up / down as long as you keep the button pressed.

Shutter button

In contrast to a roller shutter switch, a roller shutter button or shutter button must always be kept pressed while moving up or down.

Difference between switch and button

A switch retains the switch position after the switching process, while a button jumps back to the original position.

Difference between a switch, toggle switch, series switch and cross switch

A simple switch is responsible for switching a lamp. A toggle switch switches off one lamp of 2 switches. A series switch switches off several (usually 2 or 3) lights from one switch. A cross switch switches off a lamp of 3 or more switches.

  • On / Off switch: A light switch for a lamp
  • Changeover switch: 2 light switches for one lamp
  • Cross switch: 3 or more light switches for one lamp
  • Series switch: one switch for several (usually 2 or 3) lights

Here you will find our selection of affordable switch programs: to the switch programs