I'm replacing the switches throughout my house and came across this one today. What is the value of it being "framed" (it seems like that's the only difference between it and the most basic switch)?

Can I just replace it with this one.

  • 1
    It appears that the framed ones have a ground screw and the unframed ones like buyhardwaresupplies.com/… don't. The Leviton Decora Switch you link to is also framed and has a ground screw. It is a proper replacement if you would like that kind of switch over the other type. – Dan D. Jan 19 '15 at 18:44
  • @DanD. I don't think that's it. If it were then all the other switches on the linked page w/a ground would be framed too; no? I think it's a higher grade switch @$2+; elsewhere it talks of a solid frame. On the commercial side we called them spec-grade. It's what you put in "nicer" jobs and public works projects. – ChiefTwoPencils Jan 19 '15 at 21:03
  • Thanks to both of you. @ChiefTwoPencils, excuse the ignorance, but what is the practical value of having a higher grade switch? Do you agree with DanD that it would be ok to replace it with the Leviton Decora Switch? I feel like it was put in for some purpose since there was an adjacent switch that was "unframed". I'm really stumped here. – gavinci Jan 19 '15 at 21:23
  • If it's helpful at all, the switch in question is attached to a garbage disposal and has two red wires connected to it. The other non-framed adjacent switch I mentioned is attached to a light and had two black wires going into it (pretty clear there's some color-coding issues with the wiring). – gavinci Jan 19 '15 at 21:52
  • This is a different company but will give you an idea of specification(spec)-grade devices. – ChiefTwoPencils Jan 19 '15 at 23:41

Typically, cheaper residential grade switches are "framed" like this, and have a slimmer toggle, while commercial "spec-grade" switches have a larger unframed toggle.

This is a Leviton spec-grade 20A switch:

enter image description here

While this is the framed residential switch from the original question:

enter image description here

Decora switches, like this, are also typically spec-grade:

enter image description here

None of this has anything to do with grounding. The only switches without ground screws are switches specifically to be used as replacements for non-grounding devices.

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    Thanks for the thorough response. I still don't understand, though - what is the practical difference between the framed and non-framed switches? What purpose does the framing serve? – gavinci Jan 19 '15 at 22:28
  • @gavinci, I guess I had the framed and non-framed switches switched, I was going off price. The practical difference is just the over all quality. Cheapo 15 A switches feel, look, and basically are crap. It's the same when you talk about quality vs budget tools, drum heads, furniture...I think you get the picture; they're plain better. – ChiefTwoPencils Jan 19 '15 at 23:29
  • So, do you see commercial-grade as spec-grade? IIRC there's commercial grade, which is higher quality than resi, but then there's "spec-grade". We kept commercial-grade for the general case on the truck but bought spec-grade as needed where spec-ed. – ChiefTwoPencils Jan 19 '15 at 23:39
  • @gavinci, the only practical difference is like Chief said, the cheaper switches have a cheaper toggle and therefore feel cheaper. – Speedy Petey Jan 20 '15 at 0:37
  • @ChiefTwoPencils, I know that spec-grade is a certain level of quality. Some manufacturers do have that, plus "commercial grade" and even others. All I know is if I ask for spec-grade I am getting the better quality devices. Even in commercial settings I can't see any pracitcal difference in commercial grade devices. – Speedy Petey Jan 20 '15 at 0:38

I think it means the case of the switch is molded around the bezel of the switch. Levitron seems to use this language to describe its "commercial-quality" switches.

  • Leviton also has commercial grade switches without frames. I think the frame may just be a cosmetic detail (?). eg CS120-2W is a commercial switch without a frame. – StayOnTarget Apr 4 '18 at 1:03

I'm 99% sure it means there is a raised frame at the base of the actual toggle or not. I have 2 boxes in front of me right now, framed vs unframed. The framed has a small raised area around the based of the toggle (plastic), while the unframed does not. Not sure if this is purely cosmetic or if it adds any strength to the switch.

Also note both of these are marked as "commercial" grade (Hubbel from Lowes)


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