Industry Comment

Making sure you match up

Andrew Wilson (pictured) at Varilight, bemoans the lack of style consistency in some wiring accessory installations, and encourages wholesalers to select ranges that match up.


aving worked for a wiring accessory manufacturer for over 25 years, I have an unusually keen eye for

spotting mismatching switches and sockets. They are inevitably drawn towards the wiring accessories whenever I visit a commercial premises or someone’s home, and I’m surprised at how oſten they just don’t match up. Take a typical kitchen installation, for example. A householder is likely to have spent a small fortune on the latest in ovens, hobs, cabinets, tiles and work surfaces. They will probably have spent hours perusing catalogues and trawling around showrooms and chosen a particular style. Often they will have gone into quite some detail, checking that even the cabinet handles they have chosen suit the wider scheme. However, when it comes to the wiring accessories, a client will often rely on their electrician to find switches and sockets in a style to match. But how can the electrician fulfil that brief if their electrical wholesaler doesn’t offer a full assortment of matching wiring accessories and wide enough range of decorative finishes? It’s easy to get into the habit of offering just a

few finishes that have sold well in the past and to be reluctant to embrace new styles and finishes or offer an extended range. For one thing, there’s the question of stockholding and the consequent cost and space considerations. However, that needn’t be a major issue because brands manufacturing in the UK can usually respond quickly to orders, with some offering next day delivery.

So how can a wholesaler make sure that the brands they are selling are ticking the right boxes? In addition to comparing prices, there are some additional measures that an electrical wholesaler can use when evaluating a brand:-

●How wide is the range of decorative finishes available?

●How often is the range updated to keep up with the latest trends?

●Are grid ranges available to create bespoke switch or socket combinations?

●Are key problem-solving products such as LED dimmers included in the range?

●Do the grid ranges match the style and finishes offered in the rest of the assortment? At Varilight, we also pay a lot of attention to

the latest trends in interior design and, by continuing to manufacture in the UK, we are able to bring new finishes to market very quickly. For example, we launched our Polished Copper finish a couple of years ago in response to a trend that saw copper becoming increasingly popular in kitchen, bathroom and other home accessories, and it’s now one of our best-selling finishes. The most common reason for a mismatch of

switches and sockets in an installation is an electrician choosing a range that doesn’t include grid options, leaving them with no choice but to buy grid switches from a different range when they realise they need, for example, a panel of switches to control kitchen appliances. But even if an installer realises at the outset that grid options are required, there can still sometimes be a mismatch between grid products and the rest of the switches and

sockets offered within a manufacturer’s range. Additionally, some manufacturers don’t offer decorative finishes in their grid ranges at all, preferring just to offer white. However, there are many brands that do offer

grid ranges with a good selection of faceplate styles and finishes that match their wider switch and socket assortments. When it comes to dimmers though, even when the faceplates match, grid dimmer modules usually look different to standard dimmers in the same range. At Varilight we’ve just launched a new system called Matrix where dimmer faceplate packs and standard dimmer modules can be purchased individually so that bespoke combinations can be created that look identical to our standard dimmer ranges. Hopefully, these innovations mean that there will be fewer mismatching installations in the future. I don’t expect I’m the only one who notices this sort of thing.

The client at the end of the supply chain is much more likely to recommend an electrician if the installation has met their expectations. And the more business an electrician gets, the more business will come the way of the wholesaler who has taken the trouble to select a range of products that match up.

The most common reason for a mismatch of switches and sockets in an installation is an

electrician choosing a range that doesn’t include grid options, leaving them with no choice but to buy grid switches from a different range.

22 | electrical wholesalerJanuary 2019

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