What are Switches?

A switch is an electrical device, or component, that has the ability to “break” an electrical circuit. It can disrupt the electrical current, or it can send the current to another conductor. The switch could control just a single electrical connection, or it can open or close more than one. You are going to find them in a number of different devices today, including things that you use every day of your life. Without switches, the world today would be a very different place.

What Are Switches Used For?

You can find a vast number of different types of switches in the world today. The electrical devices that we hold in our hands have small electrical switches in them. Whenever you turn a light on or off in your home, you are using a switch as well. In addition, large machines, vehicles, and nearly everything else that we use have some type of switch. If it has electrical and mechanical components, you can be sure that it will have switches of some type in the machine.

What Categories of Switches Exist?

As mentioned, today’s world is full of many different types of switches. The following are some of the most common categories of switches that you will find in use.

What are DIP & SIP Switches?

A DIP switch is a manual electric switch, and you will find that they too come in a number of different varieties including rocker switches, slide switches, and rotary switches. These switches were quite common in things such as PC expansion cards, as well as in old arcade games. You can find them in use in a variety of different things today as well, including remote controls for ceiling fans. A SIP switch is going to be able to help route different electrical connections, and can act as a gateway to deal with incoming calls.

What are Foot Switches?

These simple switches have two functions. They can open or close a circuit, and in order to activate or deactivate the switches, it is going to require a manual push of the button, or switch. In these cases, you would be using your foot for the activation and deactivation of the switch. You will be able to find these in a number of different types of items right around the house. They are in sewing machines that have foot pedals, and guitar floor pedals can act the same way.

Another type of foot switch that requires manual activation would be a maintained contact switch. In these cases, you are going to have to have constant contact with the switch for it to stay on. A good example of this would be in the grocery store when you are checking out. At the end of the conveyor belt is a switch that you can push with your foot or knee. You have to maintain contact with that switch in order for it to run the conveyor and draw your groceries closer to you.

What are Hall Effect Switches?

These switches can be found in devices that need to determine position. Some of the places where you might commonly find one of these types of switches include shift selectors and letting one know when a door is open. They have applications in many different fields.

What are Joystick Switches?

You will find joysticks in a variety of different machines, from those used in videogames to those used in aviation and the controlling of large machines. You can find them used for cranes, to control surveillance cameras, and more. A joystick might have a number of switches on it, each taking care of another job. In game controllers, for example, there were buttons for jumping or firing. Some also have hat switches to control different aspects of the machine. In an aircraft, for example, this would control the aileron.

What are Key Switches?

These are switches that are only able to be activated by an actual, physical key. You will find that these types of switches are generally used for applications that need to have a higher level of security or where there needs to be restricted access. This could be restricted access to an area or location, a safe, a device, and more.

What are Keyboard Switches?

Keyboard switches utilize keyboards, just like the one that you type on every day. The keyboards have a number of switches that are able to produce a number of different actions. They can send a signal from the keyboard to the computer to turn the audio on and off, or to write in a word processor. Each of the keys on the keyboard has a switch.

What are Keypads?

A keypad switch is going to be a panel of numbers that looks similar to those that you might find at an ATM machine or even a push button telephone. They will have differing amounts of numbers and characters on them based on their complexity and their usage. You can find keypads that you could use indoors and outdoors.

What are Microswitches?

These electrical switches require only a small amount of force and they utilize an over center mechanism to activate. They are reliable switches, and they are quite popular because they have a low cost associated with them. They are able to last for more than a million cycles. In the cases of the highest quality, heavy-duty microswitches, they can last for 10 million cycles. Some of the common uses for these types of switches include vending machines, safety switches in elevators, vehicles, and a host of other places.

What are Modular Switches?

These switches are actually quite flexible, and they come in different sizes. For the most part, they are going to have between 8 and 32 ports. However, you can find some that will have as many as 64 ports.

What are Piezo Switches?

These types of switches make use of the piezoelectric effect. They have an element in the switch that is going to be able to turn on a semiconductor. This causes the switch to turn on and allows current to flow through it. They have a long lifetime that can last for millions of operations. They do not have any moving parts in them, which means that you are not going to have to deal with all of the wear and tear that you would with other types of switches.

What are Push Button Switches?

These switches are tactile switches that have a button on the front that you will be pushing manually in order to activate the device or turn on the current. You can find these types of switches in many different types of devices today. A “push to make” switch will allow the electricity to flow as long as the contacts between the button and the circuit are intact. When you release the button, it is going to break the circuit. The “push to break” type switch is just the opposite.

What are Reed Switches?

These types of switches use a magnetic field in order to work. They will contain a pair of reeds that have a small gap between them. They are flexible and made of metal, and then encased in glass. Magnetic fields will then be able to cause those reeds to come together. This is going to complete the circuit. You will often find these for circuit control in places such as the communications field as well as the sensors in things such as burglar alarms.

What are Rocker Switches?

These are on/off switches that you can turn on and off by rocking rather than by tripping the switches. One side of the switch is going to be the “on” position, while the other side is going to be the “off” position. Most of the time, they will have some type of clear marking that is going to make it easy to know whether they are on or off. Sometimes, they even have a light that will indicate when the switch is on. Some of the places where you will be able to see these switches in action today include computer monitors and power supplies.

What are Rotary Switches?

These types of switches operate through rotation, and you will find that they are used most often when you need more than simply an “on” and “off” position. For example, a fan that has three or more speeds would be able to make use of a rotary switch. They are going to have a rotor and a contact arm, and turning the switch can activate different functions. These types of switches were actually in television receivers all the way up to the first part of the 1970s.

What are Slide Switches?

These switches will be able to work with a number of different types of devices. They are also going to work similarly to a rotary switch. However, they actually slide rather than rotate, as the name would suggest. You would manually manipulate the slide, which can change the action that the device takes. They can have a number of different positions, and are useful for devices that have several different settings.

What is Switch Mounting?

Because switches are so important in so many different areas of our life today, having appropriate mounting is going to be important. Switch mounting is going to vary based on the location of the switch and the type of the switch. A variety of different mounting systems and options are available.

What are Tactile Switches?

A tactile switch is going to be any switch that has a tactile, snap back response. Another one of the names for these types of switches is the “push to make” switches. These are useful for a variety of different reasons including for input and reset buttons. You’ve probably had a number of devices that have had a reset button on them in your home, and these types of switches are the ones they use. Many people call any type of switch that you have to manipulate manually a tactile switch.

What are Thumbwheel Switches?

These are rotary switches that have a large number of different positions. They have a sprocket in them that will let them go forward and backward, and you can find these types of switches on quite a few different types of devices including mechanical and electrical devices. Some of them seem relatively simple, while others are actually complex. Another name for these devices is a digital switch.

What are Toggle Switches?

These electrical switches have lever that you can use to control the flow of the electricity by toggling that lever. They are easy to use, and they are very durable, which means that you can use them for years without needing replacements. These types of switches are the ones that you have in your home to control the flow of electricity to things such as the lamps and the overhead lighting. While some other types of controls and switches are in use in some homes and businesses, the toggle switch is still the one that stands out as being the most prevalent.

What are Touch Switches?

These switches are very sensitive, and they are not going to take any force other than a mere touch to activate. You can find these in quite a few different places in the workplace and at home. The most common use today is probably in touch lamps. You can simply touch the metal of the lamp to turn it on and off. You will also find that the touch screens that you have on your smartphone and other devices today is a type of touch switch.

The preceding types of switches are some of the many different types that are used in devices in commercial locations and residential locations. Even though there are many different styles, and they are used in so many different applications, they all have the same basic goal. All of the switches are going to control the flow of electricity through the circuit.

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