Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Types of Screwless Wall Plates - Lutron, P&S, Touch-Plate Comparison

Today we're taking a look at 3 different brands of screwless light switch covers: Lutron, Pass & Seymour, and Touch-Plate Ultra*.

(*Note that Touch Plate is a low voltage lighting brand and screwless Ultra plates are 1 & 2-gang sizes only).

DEVICE TYPES FOR SCREWLESS PLATES:


These simple, modern wall plates have no visible screws and are made to cover rocker devices (the large, rectangle shaped ones). This mainly includes Decora* rocker switches, rocker dimmers, and block/GFCI type outlets.

*The term "Decora" is a Leviton brand trademark term often used interchangeably with the term "rocker".

Inserts and modular frames allow you to install screwless covers over other devices, such as toggle light switches or phone/cable jacks.

Here are examples of several rocker electrical devices that fit into screw-free covers:

Switch / Stacked Switch / Combo Outlet / GFCI Outlet / Slide Dimmer / Rocker Dimmer

And, using inserts, blank dummy switches or modular frames, here are more options:

Rocker inserts convert openings to fit other devices & jacks.

Learn more about & purchase switch plate inserts here.

SHEEN VARIATIONS OF SCREWLESS PLATES:


The first difference between these 3 manufacturers is the sheen of the covers.


Pass & Seymour has a satin finish, Touch-Plate Ultra is very matte, and Lutron is high gloss (which the exception of Lutron's Midnight Satin Black, Hot Satin Red & Palladium Satin Gray).

SIZE VARIATIONS OF SCREWLESS COVERS:


Lutron's covers are the smallest, measuring 2-15/16" wide by 4-11/16 high.

Touch-Plate Ultra and Pass & Seymour's covers are both 3-1/8" wide & 1/4" deep, with P&S's being slightly taller at 4-15/16" high.


For reference, a standard rocker plate with screws is smaller: 2-3/4" wide, 4-1/2" high and only 5/32" deep. The screwless plates cover more of the wall space around the devices, but the cutout is the same size as any standard cover.

Covers are available in sizes from 1-gang (covers 1 device) up to 6-gang (covers 6 devices in same electrical box). Sizes vary by brand:

LUTRON:
                                                      1-6 Gang    6 Finishes    Gloss
                                                      1-3 Gang    2 Finishes    Satin

PASS & SEYMOUR LEGRAND:
                                                      1-6 Gang    1 Finish       Satin
                                                      1-6 Gang    2 Finishes    Metallic

TOUCH-PLATE ULTRA:
1-2 Gang    4 Finishes    Matte

VISIBLE SEAMS ALONG SCREWLESS PLATE EDGES:


These covers each look different when viewed from the side.

One reason is because each manufacturer has a different sub-plate style that the cover snaps into.

Lutron's sub-plate is the same size as the cover, which is why you'll see a very noticeable seam between the cover and the subplate once it's installed.


Pass & Seymour's covers snap into much smaller sub-plates. But the edges do have a seam and taper back as they meet the wall (in a reverse bevel).


As mentioned briefly above, Touch-Plate is a low voltage lighting system brand. These snap-on screwless covers are part of their Ultra line (and are typically purchased to cover special Ultra low voltage light switches in older homes that have 2-wire 28V momentary switches instead of standard 120/277 volt light switches).

However, they can be purchased to use with any standard rocker device or insert if you like the sleek matte finish and smooth edges with no visible seams. Just know that they only come in 1 or 2 gang sizes.


FINISHES BY MANUFACTURER:


Another thing to consider is the color of your devices (and desired plate color or sheen).

All three manufacturer's have a different shade of white in addition to differences in sheen (no-shine matte vs. high-shine gloss). Take into consideration if your devices are gloss verses satin.



Note that standard devices don't come "matte", so if you buy a Touch Plate cover your switches will have more shine to them even if they are satin.

Each brand offers different finishes to complicate things even further.

Here are your finish options for each brand:

Lutron has its standard line of gloss covers (to match their gloss devices sold here), as well as specialty satin red and black finishes (which also have matching satin devices from Lutron).

White / Almond / Gray / Ivory / Brown / Black
Sizes: 1-6 Gang

Hot Satin Red / Midnight Satin Black
Sizes: 1-3 Gang

White / Almond / Ivory / Black
Sizes: 1-2 Gang

Satin White / Metallic Dark Bronze / Metallic Nickel

INSTALLED SCREWLESS COVERS:


Here, we're sharing some installed covers for inspiration.

Pass & Seymour's metallic nickel receptacle and screwless cover installed in a mirror backsplash in a kitchen in Dallas, Texas:


Lutron's satin midnight black outlet cover at a Napa Valley, California winery:


Lutron's GFCI receptacle in a glossy ivory Lutron screwless wallplate installed on a black granite tile bathroom wall at a resort on the island of Kauai:



Shop Kyle Switch Plates for electrical devices and coordinating covers.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Seasonal Dimmer Knobs - Choose a Color + Design

Get decorative rotary dimmer knobs with designs for each holiday or season.

Seasonal dimmer knobs are a fun & inexpensive way to decorate your wall plate.


At Kyle Switch Plates, our decorative round knobs come with etched metal embellishments showcasing Kyle's own unique artwork. Her artistic designs are etched in silver, gold, brass or copper, then molded to fit the curved face of the knob.

Some popular seasonal design choices are the sun, leaf and snowflake dimmers.

But Kyle has 100s of design choices, so pick your favorite season or holiday and create a decorative knob that you'll enjoy.

Our unique knobs come in 18 colors including white, ivory, black, bronze, gray, red and antique brass. (Some finishes are spray painted to allow for more finish options.)

Different brand dimmers have slightly different stem styles, so before placing an order, be sure to pop your old knob off the stem and see which brand you have.


We have knobs to fit Leviton, Lutron and GE dimmers.

Shop decorative dimmer knobs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Creating Accessible Light Switches in Your Home

Easily make residential light switches more accessible for people in wheel chairs as well as for shorter individuals such as children.

Adding a light switch extension handle is quick and makes it possible for those who can't reach a standard height light switch to gain independence.

Extension handles can be used on toggle switches or Decora rocker switches as well as with compatible dimmer switches and fan controls.

EXTENSIONS FOR TOGGLE SWITCHES & DIMMERS:

Toggle switch extensions are held in place with screws and allow the switch to easily be toggled up or down to control the lights from a seated or low position.


They don't require any additional holes be drilled in order to be installed. The screws used to attach the handle replace the screws that would otherwise hold the switchplate to the wall.

To use with a toggle dimmer switch, it's best to be sure the dimmer doesn't have a preset lever to the side of switch, as it won't be accessible behind the extension handle.


See how the handle prevents access to the dimmer lever:



HANDLES THAT REACH DECORA ROCKER DEVICES:

An adapter can be added to the above toggle handle to make it compatible with Decora rocker switches and dimmers.


When you use the adhesive rocker adapter, you'll stick the handle to the switch directly rather than using screws to mount to the wall plate.

There are many styles of dimmers that fit rocker wall plates. If you intend to use your handle with a rocker dimmer, be sure it's like examples #3 shown below.


Examples #1 & #2: The small slider knob and switch underneath make it difficult to add an accessibility handle.

Example #3: The rocker style paddle switch on this dimmer is only slightly narrower than a standard Decora rocker switch. You can position the adhesive adapter onto the switch while leaving the side dimming lever unobstructed. You can purchase these compatible dimmer switches here.

Now you can make it convenient for toddlers, small children and disabled residents to access the lights themselves while living in or visiting your home. Add to a main residence, guest house, in-law unit, or vacation rental property.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Guide to Despard Switches, Wall Plates & Mounting Brackets

Find info about Despard electrical devices, how to install them, and which plates cover them. Plus, links to purchase new parts if you're looking for an update.

Despard Electrical Devices:


Switches:
-15A & 20A
-120/277V
-single pole & 3-way
-fit 1-3 switches in a single gang of box
-may have the brand "Leviton" etched across the switch

Pilot Lights:
-1/25W
-125V
-illuminates when controlled lighting is turned on

Outlets:
-15A
-125V
-sold with or without grounding wire

Shop Despard Switches & Outlets

Leviton Toggle Switches:


Your Despard toggle light switches may have the brand Leviton etched on the tip of the toggle.


Other common manufacturers are Bryant and Sierra.

Pass & Seymour now manufactures them, and replacement Despard switches can be purchased here.

Nutone Light, Vent & Heat Bathroom Switches:


Bathroom light, vent and heat systems by Nutone also use Despard switches, straps and covers.


If you're looking for parts like this, see our post about Nutone bathroom switch & cover replacements.

Low Voltage Switches with Despard Shape:


Sierra low voltage systems also have Despard style light switches -  3A, 24V tigger switches.


These low voltage Sierra switches (now manufactured by Pass & Seymour) mount with the same bracket & covers as standard 120 volt Despard switches.

Shop replacement Sierra parts here.

How to Mount Despard Devices in an Electrical Box:

Electrical Box Straps:


Unlike standard toggle light switches, Despard toggles need extra hardware to mount into an electrical box.


The brackets (also called straps) are made to hold the switch vertically or horizontally in the box.

Note that the vertical strap holds only 1 switch per "gang" (or slot in the box), while the horizontal strap holds up to 3 switches.

The horizontal strap can hold 1, 2 or 3 switches. 
Simply leave the slots that you don't need empty.

Your wall plates may be positioned vertically (as shown above) or horizontally (as shown below), which you need to note before choosing a new bracket for these switches.

Rotated vertical & horizontal Despard wall plate installations.

The switches are positioned in the straps to flip side-to-side (in horizontal straps) or up/down (in vertical straps) if the wall plates are installed on the wall vertically, like this:

Vertically installed wall plate with 3 horizontal switches.
Uses horizontal mounting strap.

Buy horizontal straps and vertical straps at Kyle Switch Plates.

Attaching Switches to Straps:


To install the switch (or outlet) into the Despard strap, note that the curved edge of the strap will face up (outward when screwed into the electrical box).

On one side of the strap's opening for the switch, there is a lip that fits into the casing on the side of the device.


Position the strap over the device and press down firmly on each side until device is fully inside the opening.


Now you need to secure the device into the strap using a screwdriver.

Place the end of a screwdriver into one of the slots to the side of the device and twist to bend the strap inward.


The metal should now be pressed up against the device, holding it securely into the strap.


Once all your devices are snug in the strap, you can mount the strap into the electrical box and cover with the coordinating wall plate.


Covers for Despard Switches & Outlets:


As mentioned above, wall plates for Despard devices may be installed horizontally or vertically on the wall.

Left: Wall Plate mounted horizontal.
Right: Wall Plate mounted vertical.

Despard Plates for Horizontal Straps:


Despard Plates for Vertical Straps:


There are a variety of configurations for Despard electrical components.

Shop Despard Switch Plates to order replacement covers online.

Kyle Switch Plates sells new Despard lighting switches, outlets, mounting hardware and cover plates. Wall plates are available in a variety of specialty finishes & are made in the USA.




Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How to Replace a Cover for an Outlet in the Floor



Floor outlets are so convenient and offer a safe way to get access to power in the center of a room.

You can use them to plug in accent lamps in your living room or to power your laptop from the comfort of the couch without the tripping hazard of running an extension cord to the nearest wall.

If a floor box cover is missing or damaged, you may be looking for a new replacement cover. Or maybe a new floor is prompting your search for a cover in a different finish. Maybe just a round cap is missing and you want it replaced to put your home on the market.

Replacement covers can be very difficult to find. That's because many floor outlet manufacturers don't sell the covers apart from the floor boxes.

Here is a Guide to Replacing a Cover for an Outlet in the Floor:


STEP 1


First, you need to identify the brand of your floor box. Common brands include Pass and Seymour, Leviton and Allied.

Leviton's brand is often stamped close to the spot where the outlet is screwed into the box.


If you have Leviton brand, you can purchase new round screw-in caps to cover the plugs, but the cover itself isn't sold separately. Go to Step 2.

Pass & Seymour's brand name may be stamped on the front or back of the receptacle or down inside the box. It may simply say "P&S". You may need to cut the power, unscrew the receptacle from the box and flip it over to see the brand markings.


Pass & Seymour doesn't sell caps or covers apart from the boxes. You'll need to purchase an entire new floor box kit.

Allied Moulded's brand name may or may not be on the receptacle. You might find it down inside the box, as shown here:


Allied sells new covers to replace damaged or missing ones. Keep reading to find the correct one.


STEP 2


Next, look to see if you have a single round outlet or a duplex outlet.

It's important to note if there is a single plug or 2 plugs in the box.

Note that in addition to having either 1 or 2 caps, the replacement cover may have different spacing between the screws as well as different cap sizes.

Also - the cap sizes are not only different for single vs duplex outlets, but they also vary in size by brand:



If you have Leviton brand and need just the replacement caps, note that the single round caps are larger than the duplex caps.


Order replacement Leviton caps here:


STEP 3


Finally, take measurements to ensure you are looking at the correct replacements.

Measure 3 things:

  1. the size of the old plate or the uncovered box
  2. the screw spacing (where the cover screws into the box or device)
  3. the cap (or cap opening if cap was misplaced)

Each brand makes covers and caps in slightly differing sizes. The screw spacing is different as well.

Again, note that:

  • Allied sells the covers separately (for their boxes only - see links below)
  • Leviton sells the caps separately; small or large (for their covers only)
  • Pass & Seymour only sells the entire floor box kit.


Allied Moulded:

  • Single Cap Size: 1.47"
  • Single Outlet Cover: 5.125" H x 3.5" W
  • Screw Spread: 4-1/16"
  • Buy cover only in brass or nickel.

  • Duplex Cap Size: 1.46"
  • Duplex Outlet Cover: 5.125" H x 3.5" W
  • Screw Spread: 4-1/16"
  • Buy cover only in brass, bronze or nickel.

Leviton:

  • Single Cap Size: 1.75"
  • Single Outlet Cover: 5.5" H x 2.75" W
  • Screw Spread: 2-5/8"

  • Duplex Cap Size: 1-7/16"
  • Duplex Outlet Cover: 3.75" W x 4.5" H
  • Screw Spread: 3-13/16"

Pass & Seymour:
  • Single Cap Size: 1.74"
  • Single Outlet Cover: 4.87" H x 3.25" W
  • Screw Spread: 3-13/16" 

  • Duplex Cap Size: 1.45"
  • Duplex Outlet Cover: 4.87" H x 3.25" W
  • Screw Spread: 3-13/16""

Shop all floor box outlets & replacement covers at Kyle Switch Plates.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Adjust Uneven Outlets for New Wall Surface - Tile, Wainscot

Often, when you add something that builds up the surface of a wall - like tile or wainscot - you'll need to make adjustments to your electrical outlets and light switches.

For example, here is an entry-way project that involved electrical components in two spots - the light switches above and the outlet below (see arrows).



In this post, we're going to look at the outlet near the floor and the adjustments that had to be made to make it even with the new batten wall surface.

Here's how the outlet originally looked on the red wall without the cover:


In order to add the new flat wall surface for the board and batten entry project, a cutout had to be made to fit around the outlet.

Note: Cutout should be the size of the electrical box - not larger.
Note: Hole was cut much too large.

Instead of aiming for the cutout to be the size of the electrical box, the installer cut the hole just under the size of the outlet cover plate.

As a result, the cutout ended up a little too big.

When screwed back into the box, the outlet was tilted forward, with the top tabs resting on the board and the bottom resting on the red drywall.

For safety, a non-conductive plastic goof ring should be installed between your device and the new surface.

A goof ring was placed underneath the outlet, but the hole in the board was still too big. The proper installation involves the goof ring resting on top of the new surface all the way around.

You can see that that bottom still doesn't rest on the new surface as it should. Grr.


To lift the bottom up, one spacer was placed around the screw holding the outlet into the bottom of the box.

Spacers can be cut or stacked to achieve depths in 1/8" increments.


That did the trick!

As an added safety precaution, the device ears were snapped off on the bottom to prevent them from making contact with the board.

The cover was added, and the outlet is no longer uneven - it sits properly in the plate & looks great.


Tips for Cutting the Right Size Hole for Electrical Devices

When adding a new surface over a wall, such as tile, wainscot, board and batten or paneling, be sure to measure very carefully when cutting the openings for the electrical devices.

It's best to cut an opening that's too small to start with, then hold it up and adjust as necessary.

Try to cut an opening that's the same size as the electrical box, rather than basing your measurements on the devices or cover plate.

You don't want your new material to overlap the box, but still want the tabs (or ears) of your electrical devices to reach over the new surface (with a box extender ring in between).

Buy 1-gang, 2-gang, 3-gang or 4-gang extender rings (also known as goof rings).

In this entry way project, the hole for these 3 switches was cut slightly too big, but worked out fine once the goof ring was installed under the devices.


What to do if you cut too big a hole around an outlet or switch:

If your cutout is too big, the devices will sit sunken down in the space and the cover plate might not be large enough.

For sunken devices, use spacers to build them up.

For covers that aren't big enough, get an oversized cover plate.