The Differences Between a Single and Double Pole Switch

Electricity is vital in every household and commercial area, so much so that it is hard to imagine a time, or even places, where there was no electricity. It has become so ingrained in our culture and how we handle things. There is a plethora of appliances and equipment that make it possible for the electricity to be transported from where it is made right to your household or place of work. One of those devices is the pole. When getting switches and sockets you need for your house, you need to determine the style, functionality, and finish. According to Elesi, single pole switches can control only one circuit while one double switch can control two.

What is a pole?

A pole of a particular switch is the number of complete circuits the said switch can be able to control. There are two main types of poles, the single-pole, and the double pole.

What are single-pole switches?

Single pole switches are the common light switches. They can control only one circuit, and you can turn the circuit off and on using the pole switch. These pole switches thus typically tend to be used on households and in commercial places that do not require a lot of electricity.

What is a double pole switch?

Double pole switches can control two separate circuits simultaneously. Additionally, they support a higher amount of voltage than the single pole. Thus, they are typically used in factories and other places that require a supply of a large voltage of electricity.

What is the difference between a single pole and a double pole switch?

There are a couple of profound differences between the two pieces of electric equipment. They include;

  • Number of circuits that the pole can control – As aforementioned, the single pole can control only one circuit, while the double pole can control two circuits. The single-pole only has a single pair of connection terminals. This means that it can hold only one pair of wires. One of the wires is the live wire, which is black, that brings in the electricity, while the other wire is the outgoing one, the hot wire. When the single pole is switched on, the connection between the black wire to the hot wire is cut off, meaning that the circuit is broken. The double pole on the other hand has two pairs of connection terminals. They have two black and two red wires connected to them. One of the black wires and one of the red wires supply power into the switch, while the other pair of wires take the electricity to the device or place that is being controlled. This means that if you flip off the switch of the double pole, you will be able to cut the connection of two circuits.
  • Amount of electricity that they can control – The double pole can supply a current of 240 volts to the residence, building, or appliance, while the single-pole can only supply 120 volts. In North America, the wiring standard was made to make it possible for two hot wires to supply power to appliances that need a voltage of 240 volts. As aforementioned, the double pole has two black and two red, meaning it can control these levels of voltage. On the other hand, the single-pole only has half the number of wires that the double pole has. This means that it is only able to withstand a maximum of half the voltage that the double pole can. 120 volts. A single-pole switch can have 1-2 permanent live feeds and one positive load lives.
  • Neutral terminal – Buildings and places that receive their power from a single-pole often need a neutral wire, while the double pole doesn’t need one. The neutral wire is not needed because the two hot wires that constitute a double pole are a complete circuit, thus no neutral wire is needed or required.
  • Type of wiring used – In addition to the fact the double pole and then single pole differ in voltage levels and the number of circuits, they also have different wiring. The double pole can withstand a high amount of voltage. This means that the wires that supply electricity into the double pole, as well as those that take the power out, are larger than those you would find in a single pole. To cope with this, the double pole has larger terminals to accommodate the thicker wires.
  • Current – The double pole is rated for a higher current than the single pole. All this simply means that the double pole can supply electricity with a higher current to equipment without damaging it. It is important not that you get a pole that supplies a current that is equal to or higher than the amount of current that the appliance requires.

Similarities between the double pole and single pole

Neither the double pole nor the single-pole has a neutral terminal. If the faceplate and yoke that houses either of the two poles are made of metal, however, you will be required to ground it. A plastic switch plates, on the other hand, don’t need to be grounded, since they are class 2 products.

When are you required to use either of them?

The amount of electricity, both voltage-wise and current-wise, that appliances in a building, or the building itself, will use is the most important way to know which pole you should use. Another reason why you may be required to use a particular pole is the rules and regulations that govern the construction and electrical installation process of the area. If, say, the building is in an industrial area, then it needs to have a double pole. This is because the building itself will be industrial, and thus will house heavy load appliances and machinery. The rating of the electrical appliance will also affect the type of pole switch you will use. As stated earlier, some appliances require more voltage than others. Double poles come in a myriad of ratings. For example, a 20A rated double pole is tailor-fitted for small appliances like ovens, while a 45A double pole switch is for more heavy-duty appliances.

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