The main difference between modular switches and the ones we are used to in Britain, is that they generally come in three or four parts, as opposed to one or two. The parts are generally separate products, which need to be purchased separately as well. At Swtch we make life easier for the home owner and installer by shipping complete sets of switches though, meaning that you should have everything required to install the unit.
The basic UK ‘plate fix’ switch is generally manufactured and supplied as a complete one piece pre-assembled unit. All components on the switch are generally moulded, riveted or screwed together as a one piece assembly and supplied ready to install.
‘Secondary fix’ units are also becoming more common these days and are more similar to the European modular concept. They consist of an insert (often a grid-style row of switches or modules) and a faceplate, which is attached to the front of the grid.
Most European switches go one step further, in that they consist of an insert, a frame and a rocker/cover for the actual switch we press to operate a light. This makes them even more flexible, because mechanics, frame and rocker are freely interchangeable (within certain ranges at least), giving the customer a wide choice of styles, materials and functions.
With that flexibility obviously comes a slightly more involved fitting process, although the difference in time between installing a secondary fix grid setup and a European 3-part switch is (in our layperson’s experience) minimal. The big time advantage for the electrician’s customer is that they can choose a different style or colour at any point – they just have to detach rocker and frame and pop the new ones onto the existing insert. No need to rip out a whole switch assembly if the customer wants to upgrade their interiors, or if rocker or frame become damaged or discoloured.