electric sockets and cables

On the subject of lighting and electrical, one aspect that people shy away from discussing is the sockets. It is because they find it hard to tell the difference between shunted and non-shunted sockets. The truth is that telling apart these two types of sockets can be very easy, provided you know where to look. In this article, we will break down the difference between shunted sockets and non-shunted sockets.

Shunted Sockets vs Non-Shunted Sockets

For novices that do not know what a socket is. The function of sockets is to hold lamps in place and provide lighting. Therefore, using the correct sockets for your lamp is an essential aspect of proper lighting. This is because using the wrong socket can result in electrical problems, such as the melting of tubes and outlets. It can also cause a fire hazard and reduce your lamp’s lifespan. That is why it is important to know the difference between shunted and non-shunted sockets to use them correctly.

Shunted Sockets

A shunted socket is a type of socket with electrical contacts connected internally. This means that, in a shunted socket, the electrical current moves through the ballast to the socket and then lamp pins in a single track.

Non-Shunted Sockets

The electrical contacts in a non-shunted socket are separate. The electrical current moves through the ballast to the socket, and lamp pins, using two different tracks. Shunted sockets receive voltage through a single set of wires before spreading to two contacts, while non-shunted sockets spread voltage to the two contacts using two separate wiring tracks.

Identifying A Shunted Socket or Non-Shunted Socket

The best way to identify a socket is to test the contacts. Due to the internal connection of electrical contacts in a shunted socket, continuity will be present for both contacts. However, a non-shunted socket cannot have this continuity due to the presence of separate contacts. You can use a voltage meter that beeps to determine if the socket has continuity. Often than not, non-shunted sockets come with four holes, while shunted sockets come with two holes. However, using a voltage meter is better, to be completely sure.

Determining What Type of Socket To Use

As mentioned earlier, using the wrong type of socket can result in electrical problems. You must therefore look for the right socket that fits your lamp. The best way to do is, is by reading the manufacturer brochure or bulb specifications. Most manufacturers suggest the best-suited socket for the lamp on the box. Another important thing to look out for is the voltage. Make sure that your socket provides the accurate voltage to the bulb.


For designer lighting, you must check that your socket matches your bulb. Failing to do this might result in electrical issues along the line. You can ask a lighting specialist for advice if you are unsure about the right choice.


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