39

What does a "1 Gang" mean when talking about electrical boxes?

Example: CARLON 1-Gang Metal Adjustable Electrical Box (Lowes.com)

56

It refers to the width of the box. A 1-gang box is wide enough for a switch or duplex receptacle. The idea is that you can "gang" up electrical components in the box.

One gang

enter image description hereenter image description here enter image description here

Two gang

enter image description hereenter image description here

Three gang

enter image description hereenter image description here

X gang

enter image description hereenter image description here enter image description here

Common sizes

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

4
  • That first picture for 3-gang is actually a 1-gang turned sideways. – Brad Gilbert Jan 24 '12 at 4:39
  • No gang can argue with that one.. well done – Piotr Kula Jan 24 '12 at 22:44
  • I think this is a very US-centric answer. Internationally, "gang" tends to refer to the number of circuits in a circuit box, irrespective of the physical size of the box. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say this was probably the same in the US at one time. However, since US construction generally follows a rule of one circuit per standard fixed box width, then "gang" gradually took on an alternate meaning of width rather than circuit number. This American approach has benefits since it makes it easier to swap out or customize each circuit. See my answer below for more references. – Daniel Jul 26 '20 at 1:13
  • The wording here is a bit inaccurate; it's not about the width of the box but the number of switch/outlet banks afforded. The width is just a function of that former piece of information. – TylerH Oct 15 '20 at 22:13
3

The n-Gang terminology is also used in the UK, but with somewhat different meaning.

  • For sockets it is similar, except UK plugs are bigger and not normally stacked two on top of each other. So a 2-Gang is wider than a 1-gang and has 2 sockets. The dimensions are of course different from the US ones.
  • Blank face plates are similar. A 2-Gang plate is the same size as a 2-Gang socket.
  • For switches it refers to the number of switches. 1-Gang, 2-Gang and 3-Gang switches may be the same size, but have 1, 2 or 3 switch buttons.
1
  • Note that in the UK boxes follow the same terminology as sockets and blank plates, not switches. So a 1-3 gang switch normally fits on a 1 gang box and a 4 or 6 gang switch normally fits on a 2 gang box. – Peter Green Jul 26 '20 at 2:28
0

In the USA, "gang" generally refers to the physical size of the circuit box. With switches and receptacles generally conforming to a standard width, the number of "gangs" indicates how many of these standard switches or receptacles the box can accommodate. This question is more thoroughly answered by Steve Jackson above.

As Tor Klingberg hints at above, however, on the international stage "gang" tends to refer to the number of circuits within a single box, irrespective of the size of the box.


Here are two UK-based websites (with pictures) that explain what a "gang" is:

https://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/what-is-a-gang-switch.htm

‘Gang’ describes the number of switches on the plate.

http://www.lightwiring.co.uk/lighting-circuit-components/light-switches/gangs-and-their-ways/

If your light switch has one ‘switch button’ on it then it’s a single (or 1) gang switch. If it has two ‘switch buttons’ on it then it’s a double (or 2) gang switch. etc. etc.


Here is a random Filipino website which has what we would call a "3-rocker, single-gang" switch in the USA. But in the link it's called a "3-gang" switch:

https://www.cherryhome.com.ph/products/9b0a5ce68b768e35bdecb7c3a57d47ad

7
  • Note that in the UK boxes follow sockets not switches. So a 1-3 gang switch normally mounts on a 1 gang box while a 4 or 6 gang switch normally mounts on a 2 gang box. – Peter Green Jul 26 '20 at 2:28
  • So the UK uses "gang" to refer to number of circuits in the context of switches but physical size in the context of boxes? – Daniel Jul 28 '20 at 15:38
  • In the context of switches it refers to the number of switches on the plate (we wouldn't normally use the term "circuit" for this). In the context of sockets it refers to the number of sockets on the plate. In the context of boxes and blank plates it refers to the corresponding size of socket. – Peter Green Jul 28 '20 at 20:18
  • Thanks for the clarification. Does a 2-gang box in the UK correspond to a 2-gang box in the US? A brief google seems to me that a 2-gang UK box is like roughly 1.5x a 1-gang box in width, and a 3-gang box roughly 2x a 2-gang box in width. Meanwhile in the US, a 2-gang box is 2x a 1-gang box in width and a 3-gang box is 3x a 1-gang box in width. – Daniel Jul 29 '20 at 0:45
  • UK accessories are somewhat different in design from US ones. AIUI US accessories typically use a 3 part system. You have the box, the accessories and then the plate. UK accessories on the other hand normally use a two part system where the accessory and the plate are the same item. – Peter Green Jul 29 '20 at 8:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.