Nonergonomic! Light Switches are not Rocket Science
Light Switches are not Rocket Science
This animated gif illustrates an extremely inconvenient, highly confusing, anti-intuitive arrangement of wall mounted light switches that unfortunately is all too common in our homes and offices.
Actually the animated gif does not illustrate the worst scenario imagineable. Far from it. The editor is keenly aware of this for a very good reason. The "electrician" who wired a pair of hallway light switches in his parents' condominium outdid this negative example. He committed the very same error illustrated in this animated gif by wiring the two switches in the wrong position left to right. But he did not stop there. He compounded his error by wiring one of the two switches upside down. Not only are the two switches in the wrong position left to right, one of the switches must be flicked down to turn the light on.
It may not be immediately apparent, but believe me when I tell you this is the worst arrangement possible. Having only one switch wired upside down is even worse than having both switches wired upside down. If both switches are wired upside down, one can simply make a mental note: "These two switches are screwed up. Just remember to flick both switches down in order to turn the lights on and you'll be okay."
But with only one of the switches wired upside down, one can never remember which switch needs to be flicked down and which needs to be flicked up! Don't forget, this is in addition to the two switches being mounted in the wrong positions laterally.
Mankind recently entered the Third Millennium. Why do idiotic mistakes like this still haunt us? After all, wiring a pair of wall switches correctly is not rocket science, and a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
-- Bevin Chu
Explanation: Light Switches are not Rocket Science Illustration: Animated Bad Design
Author: Michael J. Darnell
Affiliation: Bad Human Factors Designs
Publication Date: 1998-1999
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect