We covered outlet placement in another article, but we were also asked about where to place switches when wiring the room. While the NEC doesn't specify the height of the switches, it's pretty much standard procedure to have them 48" on center in most places. The exception is homes where wheelchair accessibility is a major concern (in which case you can place them around 40 inches).
Several times we have been asked how high to mount light switches. We cover socket placement in another article. This time, we wanted to address the location of the switches when wiring the room. While the NEC does not specify the height of the switches, most follow standard procedure. Typical placement is to place them 48" on center. Exceptions exist for families where wheelchair accessibility is a major concern. In this case, you can place them about 40 inches above the ground.
Start with NEC code
According to NEC 210.70, at least one wall-switched lighting outlet (including ceiling fans) must be installed in each habitable room and bathroom of a dwelling unit. In rooms other than kitchens and bathrooms, sockets controlled by wall switches can be used instead of lighting sockets. To reach the high-end crowd, lighting sockets can be controlled by equipped with manually operated occupancy sensors. This allows the sensor to also be used as a wall switch.
Editor's Note: We have a customer who wants all of his switches to be mounted 30 inches off the ground. At first we thought it was some kind of accommodation for disabled people in the family. After further inquiry, we found out more. Literally let him turn on the lights in every room without lifting an arm! While there's nothing wrong with that, we don't recommend screwing up your home's potential resale value by making trendy decisions because you're lazy or trying to stand out! Follow implicit standards.
location of the wall switch
The NEC code contains approximate location requirements for wall switch controlled lighting outlets. However, it does not specify the mounting height of the light switch.
It also doesn't specify the actual location of the switch (and we don't think it should). Review plans or consult with an architect or homeowner for any particularly challenging entryways. In most cases, switch placement will follow common sense rules. Do not place switches behind doors. Be sure to note the length of any short walls. This prevents you from not having enough space between the studs to mount the box.
follow minimum requirements
The code also mandates the installation of at least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet in hallways, stairways, attached garages, and any detached garages that have electricity. In addition, at least one wall switch controlled lighted outlet must provide lighting on the outside of the outdoor entrance or exit with graded access.
Hope this gives you some idea of the mounting height of the light switch. A building plan might have measurements indicating center, top, or even bottom measurements. Just double check your work to make sure everything makes sense and you have enough ergonomics to effectively activate all switches.