Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Covers for Side-by-Side Electrical Wall Boxes

Most of the time, electrical wall boxes are are spaced out, even if located near each other on the same wall.

For example, in this bathroom, there are three separate electrical boxes, with plenty of room between them:



ADJACENT ELECTRICAL BOX PROBLEMS:

If you have 2 single-gang boxes that were installed side by side, right up against each other, you'll find a hard time finding a cover plate.

See here how a standard double rocker plate is misaligned with the switches in this situation:



ADJUSTING ELECTRICAL DEVICES:

You can attempt to align your switches to match your cover by loosening the device screws and pushing them in the direction you need them to go.

The spot where your device screws into your box allows for the device to be shifted side to side, as well as slightly up and down.


Be sure to turn off power to any devices you plan to tamper with, prior to adjusting them.



SPECIALTY COVERS FOR SIDE-BY-SIDE WALL BOXES:

If you find that moving your devices closer together still doesn't get them to fit into a standard plate, you can get a wide spaced double rocker cover.


These plates are specialty made to fix the problem of electrical boxes that have been installed too close together.

Since your particular situation may be unique, you'll most likely still need to adjust the positioning of the devices to get them to properly align with the wider spaced cover, as shown in the section above.

SOLUTIONS FOR OTHER DEVICES:

If you have devices other than rocker size (such as a duplex outlet or toggle light switch), you can either:
  • update the devices
  • use inserts to convert the openings
Updating Your Devices:

Here are some examples of ways to update your switches and outlets to fit rocker openings:



You can shop for updated electrical devices here or head to your local hardware store to find replacements.

It's a simple task many homeowners can do themselves with a simple google search for directions. If you feel uncomfortable messing with electrical wiring, hire an electrician.

Using Inserts for Non-Rocker Devices:

Rocker openings in any switch plate can be converted to fit other devices.

For example, here we show how a toggle insert converts a rocker (or "Decora") opening to fit a toggle light switch instead:



COVERS FOR TRICKY SWITCHES & OUTLETS:

Depending on your situation, you may find that narrow switch plates or short switch covers are the perfect solution.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Simple Solutions for Replacing an Unusual Light Switch Cover

If you need to replace an old wall plate and you're having difficulty finding one that's the right configuration, there are a few simple ways to solve your problem.

First, check out our wide selection of combination cover plates to see if we carry the one you need. (Keep in mind, plates can be rotated to reverse the order of the openings.)



Solution #1: Update Your Electrical Devices

The more devices you have that share a plate, the trickier it can be to find a cover. Especially if the devices all require different shaped cutouts.

This cover that has an outlet in between two rocker devices, is a rare plate that is only available in a singe finish.


Updating the duplex style outlet to a rectangular receptacle will result in all 3 devices using the same size cutout. If the center device is a horizontal toggle switch, you can update to a stacked rocker switch and get the same result.



Simply swapping out the center device (as shown above) results in the need for a triple rocker plate - a very common size available in many finishes.


Often times, updating 1 or more of your devices is the easiest solution when you can't find the cover plate you need.

Solution #2: Re-Arrange Your Electrical Devices

You can also change the position of your devices. This doesn't require any re-wiring and is super simple to do. All you need is a screwdriver.


Moving the duplex outlet from the center position to one side results in a more common configuration that will be easier to find and is available in more finishes.

If you're having trouble finding the right cover and you don't want to put in new devices, re-arranging the ones you have can be a great solution.

Shop combo plates to see if this solution will work for you.

Solution #3: Use Inserts to Build a Custom Configuration

Inserts fit into rocker openings and allow you to keep your devices the same.

Use inserts to convert a rocker opening to cover a toggle switch (shown below), a duplex outlet, cable or phone jacks, data ports or even to fill in as a "blank" if there's no device.


Shop conversion inserts & learn more about this solution at Kyle Switch Plates.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Outlet Covers with Offset Openings for Tight Spaces

Problem: There's not enough room for an outlet cover.

Causes: Board and batten, wainscoting, tile, cabinetry, paneling, granite countertop, backsplash, trim, door jamb, mirror, etc.

Solution: Narrow cover plates for electrical receptacles.

When updating your living space, you may run into this common problem:
outlet cover won't go back on due to lack of space around the electrical box.

Here's a prime example:

This backsplash has a bullnose tile trim, which is blocking the cover from going back on the switch and outlet.


A cover that used to fit just fine, no longer works after this wet bar's renovation.

Narrow switch plates are the perfect solution. Depending on your needs, Kyle Switch Plates carries 2 types of narrow covers:

  • "narrow" covers that aren't as wide overall as standard ones
  • "half narrow" covers with offset openings (cutouts closer to one side of plate to allow room for obstructions on one edge)


Shop all narrow covers here.

In the tile example shown above, a half narrow switch & outlet cover is all the homeowner needed (same overall plate size, but with offset or shifted openings for the devices).


Here's another example in which there's not enough clearance for an outlet cover. The board and batten accent wall shown below has a batten beam that's partially obstructing one edge of the electrical box.*

The homeowner chose a narrow outlet cover for the single duplex outlet.
But a half narrow duplex plate would have worked also.


*Obstructing an electrical box may be a code violation - be sure to heck your local electrical codes.

Find the right narrow cover plate here.

Need covers with less trim on top or bottom edge instead?

Shop short wall plates to find the solution if materials are blocking the top or bottom edge of your device cover.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Keep Switches Straight with Wall Plate Labels

I have lived in my house for 8 years. So you'd think I'd have the switches down by now. As embarrassing as it is to admit, there are a couple light switches that still trip me up.

If you have any wall plates with multiple switches in your home, chances are, there are times you hit the wrong one.

Take the guesswork out of turning on the lights with professionally engraved light switch labels.

Labeling your light switches makes it easier for you to hit the right one (on the first try), and it makes it easier for house guests, too.

At Kyle Switch Plates, we sell two types of labels for switch plates:

  • adhesive ones that can be customized
  • sets of tags that go under the screw

Both types can be positioned above our below a switch, dimmer or outlet.



Custom Adhesive Labels for Light Switches

Engraved metal tags are available in silver or gold, and can be customized to say whatever you'd like. The short switch labels can have up to 22 characters, and the long light switch tags can fit 26 characters.

They come with a strong adhesive on the back - simply peel off the lining and stick right to your plastic or metal cover plate.

Pre-Made ID Labels for Wall Plates

The pre-made label sets come with a variety of words to identify your switches. Some examples are porch, kitchen, fan, patio, den, deck, chandelier.

Our label sets come in silver, brass, copper and gold.

NEW: Light, Vent & Heat Labels

NuTone light, heat and vent switches in a bathroom can also now be labeled with attractive tags in silver, gold or brass.

Perfect for home renovations in which you'd like to update or replace old despard style light, vent and heat switches or covers.

Learn more about replacing NuTone light vent and heat switches & covers here.

Shop Quality Metal Wall Plates Made in the USA.



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Replacing a Nu-Tone Light Vent & Heat Switch Cover

If your bathroom has Nu-Tone switches for controlling the light, vent and heat, you may have trouble finding replacement covers when you renovate the room.

The first thing you need to know is that the shape of the light, vent and heat control switches are one type of "despard" switch.

Find links to replacement parts below:

Nu-Tone Switches

To replace these old Nu-Tone switches, you need to get Pass & Seymour 15A ACD1 switches (which comes in white, ivory and brown).


Mounting Straps

Since these switches are mounted in metal straps, if you don't have the old hardware, you'll need a new despard switch mounting strap to install the replacement ACD1 light, vent and heat switches.


Despard Switch Cover Plates

The correct replacement cover is this 3 Despard Switch Cover Plate (available in over 10 finishes).

Light, Vent, Heat Switch Labels

The new covers don't have "LIGHT", "VENT", and "HEAT" imprinted on them.

But you can order separate Nu-Tone switch labels that can be affixed to the side of the switches. They come with a strong adhesive so they can easily be added to one side of your new cover.


Don't neglect your old switches and covers when updating a bathroom. You'll love the fresh look.

Monday, December 11, 2017

New Replacement Covers for Old Vintage Outlets {A Photo Guide}

Your home may have vintage style outlets that have long since lost their covers.

Find pictures of old electrical outlets and links to brand new replacement covers below.

Guide to Replacing Vintage Outlet Covers In Your Home


1. T-slot duplex socket

These vintage 250v T-slot outlets fit standard duplex covers.
However, this device has been banned since the '60s because of its lack of a ground or neutral. Rather than adding a cover to this outdated outlet, you should update to a more modern 125V outlet.




2. Sierra Triplex Receptacle

This 3-plug receptacle is an old Sierra Triplex Outlet.
New triplex covers are available in white and ivory.
Note that devices darken over time, so a new cover won't be an exact match in finish to an old device like this one.




3. Triple Plug

Here's another example of a triplex outlet that is built into the cover plate.
These are no longer manufactured, so a modern update should be installed in its place.
An oversized cover may be required to cover the cutout in the wall.



4. Sierra Electric Square Simplex Outlet

Find new square simplex outlet covers for these vintage Sierra Electric plugs.



5. Sierra Despard Outlets

This small 2-prong sockets may share a plate with switches as shown below.
These are examples of despard devices, which fit despard covers sold here.


6. Despard Convenience Outlet

Here is a 3-prong despard outlet. Fits the same despard outlet cover plates as the Example #5 above.



Have another vintage style outlet not shown here?
Share a picture with us and let us help you find a replacement.

Odd Jacks in Older Homes


You may find some strange looking "plugs" in your home that are actually phone jacks, like the 2 examples shown below.

4-Prong Sierra Electric Phone Jack

Buy replacement covers for 4-prong Sierra jacks.



4-Prong Bell Systems Phone Jacks

Buy covers for Bell Systems 4 prong jacks.


Looking for vintage cover plates for other jacks or old switches?
Check out our Comprehensive Guide to Identifying and Replacing Old Switches, Jacks, Outlets & Covers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Updating Your Old Doorbell to Ring 2 - DIY Solutions

Updating your old doorbell & intercom speaker to a modern Ring 2 video doorbell system can be tricky since the Ring 2 is smaller than your old one.

What do you do about that large hole by your front door when you remove the old Nutone or TekTone doorbell intercom?

Buy a blank vintage doorbell cover that's large enough to cover your old speaker and screws directly into the old box. Then, mount the new doorbell right to the blank cover

See blank doorbell intercom covers here.

The aluminum doorbell cover plates can easily be drilled into, so you can mount your Ring 2 doorbell right to the cover.

Below, an old doorbell and intercom speaker was removed and the large hole was covered with this blank aluminum plate. The homeowner drilled holes into the cover to mount the Ring 2 doorbell and camera directly to the plate.



There are a variety of old doorbell styles and sizes, as shown here:



Follow these tips to determine the correct plate to convert your old doorbell to a new video doorbell:

Remove the Old Speaker
Turn off power to the doorbell.
Unscrew the speaker and remove any wiring that's attached.



Measure the Box
Measure the outside dimensions of the box as well as the distance between the screw holes where the old speaker was attached.

Note: screw holes are measured from the center of one hole to the center of the opposite hole.



Find the Right Size Cover Plate
You'll need the outside dimensions as well as the screw spread.

Covers are available in 2 sizes:

  • 6.38" H x 4.5" W
  • 7.5" H x 5.5" W

If your box is recessed in brick or other siding, make sure there's clearance for the cover plate. You may need to order a smaller size and use weather stripping or a gasket under the cover.



Find the Right Screw Spacing
NuTone doorbells typically have one of 4 screw spreads:

  • 3.75" (center to center)
  • 4" (center to center)
  • 4.5" (center to center)
  • 5.25" (center to center) 
Screw spacing of the new cover must align with the box that's currently there.

Find Your Plate


Once you have the correct cover to act as your back plate, follow the instructions included with your Ring 2 doorbell, modifying them as needed to mount the video doorbell to the aluminum cover.