Updating your GE low voltage wall plates? Find advantages of new style vs. bracket mount covers.
The major differences between New Style Snap-In plates and Bracket Mount plates are:1. The black trim around the new switches is more visible with New Style Snap-In Plates.
Continue reading for the pros and cons of each style.
Switch & Cover Installation
To install switches with a New Style Snap-In cover, the switches are snapped in from the front of the plate, then wired into place.
The advantage is, you don't need to purchase the additional part (the bracket), so it's less expensive.
However, if you want to remove your switch plates (to replace them, or to paint your walls), you'll have to disconnect the switches from the plates. The switches have quick connectors that make this relatively easy. Alternately you can simply pull the whole unit away from the wall. (This ensures that the painter can't lose or throw away the wall plates - a common problem. Slip a plastic bag over them to avoid paint splatter.)
Bracket Mount covers are similar to the old covers - the switches are snapped into a mounting bracket and held in the electrical box independent of the cover plate.
One advantage is that you can easily remove the cover plates and keep the switches in place (for example - when painting a room).
Another advantage is that you can move the bracket around slightly before tightening to the box to ensure the cover is mounted on the square.
The disadvantage is the price - you'll have to purchase a bracket to go under each plate.
Another disadvantage is the direction of the switches. If your old plates were mounted with the screws on the left and right, your switches will now be oriented with the ON button on the left and the OFF button on the right. The new switches are no longer marked with ON and OFF. If you have a mix of Old Style and Bracket Mount switch plates in your home this can be confusing.
Bracket Mount covers come in fewer sizes and hold fewer switches.
Plates are 1-2 gang and hold from 1 to 4 switches. (4 configurations available.)
Plates are typically mounted in vertically installed wall boxes (screw holes located above and below the switches).
Switches are rotated 90 degrees when installed as compared to the Old Style plates. (Note that switches in New Style plates are mounted the same way as the Old Style plates.)
You get more flexibility with New Styles covers.
New Style plates come in 1-3 gang sizes can hold up to 12 switches. (11 configurations available.)
Plates mount directly to the box so there is little room for adjustment of the face plate position if the underlying box was installed noticeably crooked.
Another benefit of New Style covers: you can fit 3 and 4 switches into a single-gang plate/electrical box. This is helpful if you wish to add lighting fixtures or split an area that is currently controlled by a single switch.
Master Selector Panel Updates
Replacement Master Selector Panels are only available with New Style plates or as a bulky panel. (There is no replacements for the discontinued rotary dial selector panels, whether single gang 9- or 11-switch dials or double-gang 12-switch dials.)
If you have a broken master selector and want a consistent look throughout your home when updating your GE low voltage lighting system, you should replace your old switches with New Style Snap-Ins instead of Bracket Mount plates.
Note that old two-dial master panel accommodated 12 switches in a 2-gang box. If you are replacing it, you have to choose between two options. If you want to keep the underlying 2-gang wall box, you will need to eliminate or combine 4 lighting areas. If you wish to continue using 12 switches, you'll need to install a new 3-gang box or 3-gang old work mounting ring per your local code. Low voltage wiring typically does not require a box but be sure to ask what the rules are in your area.