What is the difference between single-pole and double-pole switches?

Two products with different purposes, but with a similar name. Many times when buying electrical mechanisms, the question arises as to which switch to buy. Are you not sure? We explain it very briefly below.

What is a single pole switch

single-pole switch is an electrical mechanism that, in domestic lighting, takes two positions: on and off. In one position it lets the current pass and in the other, it cuts.

The peculiarity of this mechanism is that it cuts only one wire of the two necessaries for the installation of, for example, a light bulb. It is the cable popularly called a return.

What is a single pole switch for?

Basically to turn the light on and off. It is the most common mechanism in all electrical installations in a home.

What is a bipolar switch

bipolar switch is an electrical mechanism that, although it may well do the same function as the conventional unipolar switch, has the peculiarity that it uses two wires to cut off the current.

A priori it may seem unnecessary, but sometimes it can be useful.

What is a double pole switch for?

In a home, although it can be used as a traditional switch, it is usually used in those situations in which it is important to completely cut off the supply. Some examples would be:

  • To turn an electric water heater on and off
  • To switch an extractor hood on and off
  • Any area that may pose an electrical risk

Difference between unipolar and bipolar switch

Therefore, the difference between a unipolar and a bipolar switch is that while the former only has one wire to cut, the latter requires two wires. Both are safe, but at specific times they may have a different use.


Therefore, although a double-pole switch has an “extra” function, single-pole switches are commonly used in electrical installation. Remember that all electrical installations must be supervised by a qualified technician.

Do you have any questions? Get in touch with us to help you answer your questions.

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