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I have been looking for a specific type of light switch for my home inspired from an architecture tour I took many years ago in France at Villa Cavrois.

Unfortunately, it seems this is an almost impossible to find product in the US and widely and cheaply available in the UK.

My questions are the following:

  1. Is it possible and what would it entail to buy a UK light switch to use in the US home? I care about design but also about safety. here is the switch in question: https://www.screwfix.com/p/lap-10ax-1-gang-2-way-toggle-switch-polished-chrome-with-colour-matched-inserts/63045

  2. Is there a way to keep some of the design features and just match it up to US core parts instead with some DYI mix and match?

  3. Do you guys know any place that would have a US version that would not cost $125 (!!!) a piece, like this one, which is actually the exact one I wanted, with a rectangular plate: enter image description here

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You need to use switches rated for at least 15 amps. Most UK switches are rated at 10 amps. You could solve that problem by wiring the light through a relay such as a RiB or Aube type low-voltage relay.

Mechanically mounting it in the walls would be easy enough. The trick is don't try to mix-and-match. Use all-UK stuff up until an obvious point of divergence. So for instance, put the UK switch with a UK cover plate in a UK junction box with UK cable clamps. The place to transition to US style stuff is at the cable or conduit. You might have to punch a 1/2"US knockout in the side of the UK box, if you were fitting conduit. Otherwise UK twin-and-earth clamps will probably work on Romex.

No ring circuits, though.

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  • What about the fact that the OP's switch doesn't meet 404.7 requirements foir position indication? – ThreePhaseEel Dec 17 '19 at 12:42
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    From what I can tell, a 10AX switch is rated for 10 amps so it seems it would be unsafe for a US 15 or 20 amp circuit. Maybe use it to activate a higher amperage relay. – DoxyLover Dec 17 '19 at 13:48
  • @DoxyLover Oh, snap... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '19 at 14:29
  • Is it safe to say that none of the UK items would be "to code", so this is really just a DIY in your own home type of modification? – JPhi1618 Dec 17 '19 at 15:24
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Speaking as someone who has built quite a few control panels in my time...

Simple approach for US-Spec parts (thus, less of a code issue) would be a blank cover plate, a drill, and a US-Spec toggle switch (which will be a lot easier to find at an electronics supplier than a home center.)

Looking at one USA electronics supplier's site, I find over 1000 toggle switches rated 120VAC or above and 15A or above, starting at a couple of bucks each for the lowest cost shiny metal ones. Add a couple more bucks for a blank shiny metal wall plate.

If using UK-rated parts that are not cross marked for use in the US (which is probably most of them) then I would suggest keeping the entire switch related part of the circuit at low voltage (such as 24VAC for relay control) which eases code issues considerably.

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  • Thanks, I was definitely considering that option as using a UK switch seems incredibly complicated and risky. The thing is I just can't seem to find the right parts. Would you mind sharing what site you use to find the toggles in question? – marcus123 Dec 17 '19 at 23:40
  • Mouser. Newark and Digi-Key are the other two main-line sites for general electronics IMPE, then you get into regional stuff like Fry's or "surplus" (some of which is, and some of which seems not to be when you shop around enough) places like sciplus or mpja - or limited-selection suppliers serving a particular market segment. There are many others. Keep track of shipping costs when comparing. – Ecnerwal Dec 18 '19 at 0:05
  • UK parts are not particularly risky (electrically) they just have been built to an entirely different set of standards and thus do pose a risk with regard to passing inspection in the USA/Canada. – Ecnerwal Dec 18 '19 at 0:10

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