Pullcord switch noise

From DIYWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

New Pullcord switches widely used in bathrooms have become noisy over the last few decades. In some cases they can wake the whole household up at night.

Sound reduction strategies

Pick your switch

These are quieter than average.

Current rating

2A switches are less noisy than 10A ones.

Mounting point

When mounted to plasterboard, the board acts as a sounding board, increasing the noise. Its quieter to screw the switch through to a timber joist, though there isn't always one in the right place.

Tablelamp switch

A 1A tablelamp pullcord switch can be fitted inside a standard pullcord switch enclosure, mounted on rubber tap washers. But these aren't as robust, abuse of the pullcord can break them.

Rubber mount

Mounting the switch enclosure to the ceiling with tapwashers helps a lot.

  • The traditional fixing consists of, in order: ceiling plasterboard, switch enclosure base, screw
  • A rubber mounted fixing consists of, in order: ceiling plasterboard, rubber tapwasher, switch enclosure base, rubber tapwasher, large metal washer, screw
  • See Fan_noise_reduction#Flexible_mounting

Low level lighting

Very low level lighting often avoids the need to use the main light, especially at night when the noise is worst. LED lighting is the obvious candidate, and the lowest power CFLs.


Standard mains wallswitch on 6v operating a relay.

Switches outside the bathroom

Pullcord switches are then unnecessary. Children can be a nuisance with them.

Pullcord dimmer

Luxury options can be silent, but expensive.

Switch above ceiling

Occasionally its possible to mount the switch to timber above the ceiling, and run the pullcord through a very small ceiling hole with a drilled disc on the plasterboard to tidy it up (and stop the cord damaging the plasterboard). Round the edges of the hole to avoid cord damage. This is doable where there's loft access above.

PIR sensor

Bathroom lights operated by a PIR sensor are sometimes suggested. In practice they result in complaints such as being dazzled by unwanted light at night, and lights going out when busy.

See also