Monday, March 26, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Light Switches (Lichtschalter)


Just a short silly difference today: Light switches (or Lichtschalter in German).

Light switches come in many varieties but the typical German light switch and the typical American light switch are quite different.

Two German switches

German light switches are quite large, flat, and square. You push on the top or bottom to turn the light either on or off.


Typical American switch

American light switches are small, stick out, and are more of a knob. Usually you push the knob (ok, really a switch since it is a light switch) up and down to turn the light on and off. Although the actual switch is small, the surrounding part makes the light switch look very large. Actually, we would estimate almost twice the size of one German light switch.

Switch becoming more popular in the USA

We both have to agree that we like the German light switches more. When your hands are full, all you have to do is push up again them and you can turn on or off the light. This is unlike the American light switch which you must use your elbow or hip and try to push the know up or down correctly...sometimes leaving a tiny bruise.  Although, we think there is a new type of switch becoming popular in the USA which is easier to bump with a hip or elbow.

The one thing that bothers her about German light switches is the light for the bathroom. In most of the apartments and houses she has visited in Germany, the light switch is outside of the bathroom door. Time after time she has walked into the bathroom and had to go back out to turn on the light.

Bathroom light switch over a normal hallway switch

There is usually a little orange light on the switch which lets you know if the light inside the bathroom is on or not. This good if you aren't sure and don't want to knock. Even though this does seem like a good idea, she can't get over the feeling that she is going to be left in the dark because someone on the outside will turn off the light.

The reason for a light switch outside instead  of inside the bathroom? Mystery to us. If you know why, leave us a comment and share your wisdom.


  1. The european reason for this is the user security; being outside, the probability to touch it with a dripping hand is lower, so the risk for electrocution is lower also (do not forget that in Europe the mains' voltage is 230 volt and the bathroom one's frequently wet and with bare feet on a wet floor...)
    Being afraid of dark is a little childish...

  2. Good point we never thought about. Although, it would never hurt to be extra safe in the USA also. Thanks for the comment :)