Electromechanical Switches and Their Types
Electromechanical switches are devices used to make, break, or change the route of electrical and electronic current flow in circuits. Switches represent a vital electronic component throughout many electronic circuits. Despite the rise in popularity of electronic or semiconductor based circuits for switching, electromechanical switches are still widely used. Though they provide many functions, their simplest is to interrupt a circuit so that it can be switched on and off. Other types of electromechanical switches enable circuits to be routed through to different points and, depending on the circuit design, switches can provide a broad range of switching functions.
Each of the different types of electromechanical switches operates in a slightly different manner and is suited to different applications. The most common types of electromechanical switches are the toggle switch, push button switch, rocker switch, rotary switch, slider switch, and DIP switch. Let’s take a deeper look at each type.
The toggle switch is typically a two position switch featuring an internal construction that includes a spring held firmly in whatever position it has been switched to. Toggle switches are used in electronic applications to switch devices on and off. Some types of toggle switches are available with a centered ‘off’ position, and most toggle switches can withstand switching 250 VAC (volts of alternating current) at current levels of around 1 amp. However, given the amount of less expensive options available, it is always best to check the switch rating as lower cost/lower quality items can be dangerous when their ratings are exceeded.
Push Button Switch
Push button switches are used in a variety of electronic circuits. They are most commonly used when a push action is required to give a brief connection. In addition to this, they can also be used to provide a push on/push off action.
Rocker switches share many similarities with toggle switches. Like toggle switches, they are mainly used for on/off functions and have a two position capability. Certain types of rocker switches consist of an integral neon lamp to denote when the circuit is on. In terms of their intended use, rocker switches are commonly capable of switching voltages around 250 VAC and current levels of 1 amp or more.
Rotary switches, as their name would suggest, are controlled by turning a knob to the correct position to allow a relevant connection to be made. Because they have many positions, rotary switches enable a single point to be connected to one of many other points in the electronic circuit. Rotary switches are most commonly used for signal switching, meaning they are most appropriate for low voltage and current applications. In general, they should not be used in high voltage or current applications.
Slide switches are mechanical switches that use a slider to move from the off position to the on position. They allow control over current flow in a circuit without having to manually cut or splice wire. This type of switch is best used for controlling current flow in small projects.
DIP (dual-inline-package) switches consist of a series of 2, 4, 8, or more switches in a dual line integrated circuit style assembly. The switches in this series are usually rocker switches and, because they are in a line, can be used to pre-set digital inputs to an item of electronics equipment. DIP switches are commonly used to configured settings like start-up or other default settings.
While the aforementioned switches represent some of the most commonly used electromechanical switches, there are many different types used in circuits and other electrical devices. When purchasing electromechanical switches, no matter the type, be sure you are getting them from a reliable source.
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