Sourcing electric light switches for period homes

Regularly, electricians and other tradespeople are asked to help a client by not only renovating and maintaining their property but by sourcing items to help keep their home’s style in the era it was built. As an electrician, you may be asked to find period sockets and switches such as these, or light fittings to fit the style of the home. This may seem to be outside your job description but if you are able to help your client in helping them find suitable, stylish fittings, they will be forever grateful and they may be more likely to give word-of-mouth recommendations for your services as a result.

For newer homes, finding stylish fittings to suit will be a simple case of scouring industry brochures until you find something appropriate, but for older, period homes, this may not be so easy, and it’s not something you can ignore.

Period Homes

There are a large number of period homes in the US. According to the 1995 housing survey, almost one-in-ten homeowners live in a home built in or before 1919, with the proportion of old to new homes varying hugely between geographic areas.

These comprise a variety of homes built in the US during the Victorian era in many different styles including Italianate, Gothic, and Romanesque, as well as a huge number of tenement blocks, lots of which survive to this day. In the working life of an electrician, many older houses will be encountered which, at first, may pose you a challenge. Finding a good supplier of period fittings will save you lots of time and energy in the future.

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Salvage yards

A great place to start is a home salvage yard. Salvage yards stock reclaimed items from older buildings which will likely be original artefacts, or good reproductions. They may be fairly expensive but genuine items, especially those in good working order, are best for putting the period look back into an older property. You may need to call each salvage yard in your area to check availability and save yourself a lot of time and effort.


Check out eBay in the antique section for fittings and lights. Sockets and switches are easy and fairly inexpensive to mail and a site like eBay will provide you with a wider pool of products and save a lot of searching time. Also, don’t forget classified sites such as Craigslist, and your local media publication for the small ads.

DIY stores

Authentic looking reproduction fittings can be purchased in the absence of originals. Period fittings have had a bit of a renaissance over the last few years, and DIY stores produce their own ranges of period-style switches and sockets alongside their more modern products. Take a look at style guides for older homes and see if you can get something newer to achieve the period look. You might even save your client a lot of money by buying modern reproductions!


By going the extra mile for your client, you are providing a valued service, adding interior design skills to your electrical engineering ones! See this article for more tips on how to use your talents to keep your electrician job in tough economic times. An electrician who can be relied upon to help add value to their client’s home and goes above and beyond will be highly sought after.