What Is The Difference Between A Two Gang Switch And A Two Way Switch

Many will not know this, but there is a difference between a two gang switch and a two way switch. Both might look somewhat similar, but a two gang switch operates differently from a 2 way switch. In most household, what we have are normally “gang” switches and not “way” switches. In short, a “gang” switch, be it one gang, two gang, three gang or even four gang are the most common household switches. Two way switches are used in specified locations only.

The Two Gang Switch

2 gang switch
A Typical 2 gang switch

The two gang switch, as the name suggest is a normal light switch with 2 normal looking switches lined up side by side. Both these are ordinary switches used to switch a light on and off, except in this case, there are two switches for 2 different light points.

The Two Way Switch

A two way switch on the other hand consist of only one “gang” or more specifically one single switch. It will look exactly  the same as a One gang switch when seen from the front. The difference lies at the terminal at the back of the switch.

Two way switches works in pairs. That is to say, you need a pair of two way switch to make the the switches do it’s work properly.

The two separate 2 way switches are located in different locations of a building like a long hallway, a corridor, a staircase or even a shared bathroom or toilet.

2 way switch
The Terminals Of A 2 Way Switch

The two way switch lets you switch on the light at one end and them switch it off at the other end. For example, when you want to go up or down the stairs at night, you would want to switch on the staircase lights before doing so. Once you have reached the upper or lower floor, you would want to switch off the staircase lights to save some electricity. That’s where two switches are very useful.

How To Differentiate Between A Two Way Switch And A Two Gang Switch

A two gang switch has 2 switch tumblers while the 2 way switch has only one. That is the most obvious difference. On the other hand, if you ask for a one gang switch, the difference cannot be seen. You will have to flip over to see the wire terminals to differentiate between the two switches.

A two way switch will have 2 terminals while an ordinary switch will only have two. Check this two way switch wiring diagram to see how it is installed and operated.

Is It Dangerous To Mix Up A Two Way Switch With A Two Gang Switch

No it is not. If you have bought the wrong switch, and somehow stubbornly installed the switch even though you realize you have an extra terminal, the most that could happen is the light which the switch controls might not light up at all or lights up only when the switch is in the “OFF” position.

It will not cause any short circuits, blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker. The most damage it can do is maybe to your wallet.

Bring Along The Old Switch As Sample

If you plan yo replace any switches yourself and you are not sure what kind of switch it is, it is advisable to dismantle the switch first and bring it along with you. This way, you can show the old switch to the shop assistant so you will not buy the wrong item.

To make things even simpler, always insist on the same brand so all the terminals will have the same markings. The chances or making a mistake will greatly reduced.