German Light Switches

Light switches are not something I thought about much before moving to Germany from my native California. I was used to flip a switch up for “on” and down for “off” and noticed it's the opposite in Germany. Another difference is the bathroom light is usually on the outside of the room in Germany and the inside in California. So when remodeling our 100+ year old Berlin apartment, I thought why don’t I just flip all the switches the opposite way, like in California. I asked the electrician if he could do this and he gave an immediate “no”. So I asked him why the light switch is the direction it is and he said that the light spends more time in the “off” position than the “on” position, therefore much more dust would collect on the top of the switch if it spends more time in the down position. OK, well at least now I had a logical reason so that satisfied me. However, my next thought was if the light switches weren't so big then there wouldn’t be as much dust collecting on them. The size of the switch is much smaller in California but the plate around it is bigger. However, I like the large switch better and less plate, it makes them easier to find in the dark. Some of the little differences of living and designing in another country.

Which direction do you think light switches should be? Why do you think the switch is normally places on the outside of the bathroom in Germany?

Kommentare (3)

  • PRO
    Vor 3 Monaten

    Welcome in Germany Kristy :) The case with the dust is no real reason in my opinion - it´s easy to install upside down and should be no problem - only in the brain of the electrician... You are right that the (older) bath switch is often outside - I think this comes from safety reasons in former times before Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter...

    Kristy Kropat Design hat GRAEFE.EU gedankt
  • midmodfan
    Vor 3 Monaten

    I think the dust reason is bogus. It's just that electricians, like most people and especially workmen, are used to doing things a certain way. "Das haben wir schon immer so gemacht" ("we always did it this way") is a line you hear often.

    All countries have their oddities. Right now I am dealing with British workmen in Spain who have their own and sometimes rather strange methods. But I think that those peculiarities are part of the fun of living in a foreign country, no? If I wanted things to be the way I am used to, I'd have to move back to Germany.

    Kristy Kropat Design hat midmodfan gedankt
  • PRO
    Kristy Kropat Design
    Ursprünglicher Verfasser
    Vor 3 Monaten

    Thank you GRAEFE.EU and midmodfan for your insights! Yes, I do agree that these differences make it fun living in another country. It is very inspiring to see other ways of doing things.

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