You might not have given it much thought, but switches are potentially one of the most important inventions in terms of electronics. They help us more conventionally monitor our electricity usage and make certain devices easier to control and use. Furthermore, switches are versatile and come in different types that do so much more than simply turn things on and off. Here are of the different types of switches and how they’ve been put to good use.
Slide switches are used to control the current flow within a circuit, predominantly between an open and closed state. They’re petite and are great at controlling the flow in smaller circuits, making them very common in compact, battery-operated electronic devices as the primary power switch.
Footswitches are devices that are used to control power in an electrical circuit by foot pressure. They’re often used on machines where an operator needs their hands to be free so that they can operate a workpiece, such as a guitar foot pedal. They’re perfect for devices where hand controls can’t be used to actuate a cycle and therefore are also commonly used in hospital equipment and office machinery.
Level switches are a nifty type of switch that is used to detect the level of liquids, powders, or solids, and because of this are mounted in tanks, hoppers, or bins, and provide an output to a control system. The way they work is simple: when water touches the switch’s sensor, it completes the circuit and creates a signal that can be used to keep contents from overflowing. Due to this, they’re mainly used in the process industries to monitor water tanks but can also be used in day to day applications as well.
Pull Chain Switches
These switches are hand-operated and are used to switch a circuit either on and off or step a circuit through increasing power levels. They are most commonly used in lighting where they’re most regularly used in lamps, however, pull rope switches are also used to provide emergency stops, as they are easier to grab and use than other types of switches.
Magnetic switches are a type of switch where the mechanism that closes a circuit is operated by the presence of a magnetic field. Typically, a magnetic switch is left open when there’s no magnetic field nearby, but then closes when one appears to complete the circuit. One application for magnetic switches is to detect the opening and closing of doors and windows and can be used as part of a security system to trip alarms.
These types of switches are great at connecting multiple circuits into one and thus has practical uses in selecting certain functions in a device. A rotary switch can have simple on-off functionality, or it can have multiple discrete stops that connect different circuits to create a specific function. For example, a rotary switch can be seen on musical amps and can be used to select the type of sound performers want transmitting. They also provide a good verifiable mean to see the switches position, allowing operators to intuitively know if a circuit is engaged or not with a quick glance.