Although there are no national or local electrical code requirements for the mounting height of switches, there are height requirements set down by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) for a dwelling that may be inhabited by people with physical disabilities. The ADA specifies a maximum height for a side reach of 54 inches, and a maximum side down reach of 8 inches for people seated in wheelchairs. Although those standards were set for public buildings and health care facilities, they are a good standard to follow when constructing or remodeling a private residence.
Here's where you need to place light switches in a bedroom.
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Where to Put Bedroom Light Switches
- Mount switch boxes 44 to 46 inches above the floor.
- Use three-way switches at the entrance and bedside to control main lights.
- Use single-pole switches for bedside wall sconces.
Locating Bedroom Light Switches
Light switches controlling the bedroom's main lights are located on the wall opposite the hinged side of the entryway door. Measured from the finished floor line, the top of the switch box should be no more than 54 inches high. By convention, most switch boxes are installed with the bottom of the box located 44 to 46 inches above the floor, this places the top of the box between 47 1/2 and 49 1/2 inches above the floor. By using these conventions, the top of the box is below the maximum 54 inches set down by the ADA.
Three-Way Bedroom Switches
When remodeling large bedrooms, you may want to consider installing three-way switches instead of the standard single-pole switches, because the three-way switches allow you to control a light from two places in the room. By placing the second three-way switch near the bed, you are not left stumbling around in the dark when you retire for the night.
If you have switch-controlled wall sconces flanking the bed, put each of these on a single-pole switch so each person controls their own light.
Mounting the Switches
If the switch boxes are being installed in a new bedroom addition, the boxes are mounted directly to the side of the king stud, the 2x4 that runs from the bottom plate to the top plate, the horizontal wall framing members. During a remodel where the walls already are finished, remodeling or "old work" boxes are used, which are held in place by mounting wings that swing out and press up against the backside of the drywall.
Other Light Switches
For lights other than the bedroom's main luminaries, the switches are mounted in close proximity to the light fixtures they control, such as wall sconces mounted to either side of a bed's headboard. In this case, the switches should be mounted at a height easily within reach of a person reclining on the bed. In a case where the main room lights already are in place and controlled by a single-pole switch, you may want to consider using three-way switches to control the bedside wall sconces, so you can turn them on upon entering, then turn them off after you are in bed for the night.