Switches Basic Types and How They Work

In the field of electronics, a switch is an electrical component used to disconnect or connect the conducting path within an electrical circuit, interrupting the electric current or diverting it from one conductor to another. As switches can be used to fulfill a broad range of different needs, there is a wide variety of types. The most common types of switches are pushbutton, toggle, rotary, and magnetic reed switches. In this blog, we will discuss each type and how they work.

  • Pushbutton Switches

Pushbutton switches come in two types: normally open (NO) and normally closed (NC). In a normally open pushbutton switch, when the pushbutton is in its normal (not pressed) state, there is no current flowing. When an operator presses the pushbutton down, the current begins to flow. Normally closed switches work in the opposite way. When the pushbutton is closed, the switch’s normal state, the current is flowing. When an operator presses the pushbutton, the circuit is opened and the current stops flowing.

  • Toggle Switches

Toggle switches are controlled by a lever with three positions that allow you to direct current one way, the other way, or not to flow at all. There are several types of toggle switches characterized by its pole and throw. A pole represents a contact, and the throw represents the connections your pole can make. When describing a toggle switch, the following codes are used: P = pole, T= throw, S = single, and D = double. Now let’s look at the most common types of toggle switches.

The first type of toggle switch is the SPST toggle switch. In this type, the metal contact part makes a connection between two pins. When the contact is at the left, there is no connection between the pins. When it is at the right, the two pins are connected and the current flows from one pin to the other. In the next type, SPDT, when the metal contact is turned to the left, there is no contact between pin A and pin B, when turned to the left, the current flows through A and C. In the third type, a DPST switch, there are two poles and one throw. The poles are either both on or off, and each pole can make just one connection, hence the single throw. Finally, in the DPDT switch, there are two poles and two throws, each able to make different connections. Aside from these common types, there are also switches with multiple poles and multiple throws.

  • Rotary Switches

Rotary switches have several positions, selected by rotating a knob on the device. Switches of this type have varying amounts of positions, such as 3, 4, 6, 16, and so on. Each rotation of the switch creates a new connection.

  • Magnetic Reed Switches

Finally, magnetic reed switches open or close based on the magnetic field they are adjacent to. When a magnetic field is close to the switch (less than 13mm away), the electrical circuit is closed. When the magnet is far away from the switch, the circuit is open.

Whatever type of switch you need, you can find it at Industrial Gamut. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can offer a broad range of switches in addition to a vast and diverse selection of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, defense, electronics, and IT hardware industries. Dedicated account managers are always standing by and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@industrialgamut.com or call us at 1-714-705-4780.


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