Different Types of Electrical Switches
Electrical switches are used to disrupt the flow of electrons in a circuit. Electrical switches are binary, meaning they are either completely on (open) or completely off (closed.) Electrical switches may be directly controlled by a person to send a signal to a system, such as a computer keyboard button. They can also be used to control power flow in a circuit, such as a light switch. Different types of electrical switches are controlled in different ways – pressure, temperature, flow, voltage, force, and current. There are many different kinds of switches. Here are some of the most common electrical switches used:
Slide switches are one of the most common types of electrical switches. They are small in size, and can be operated with just one finger. They are very important due to the fact that the device they control is basically useless if the switch is absent – Lamps, hand mixers, and toy cars are just a few items that are controlled by slide switches.
This type of switch is operated by a lever that moves up and down. You can find these types of switches in a home, usually used for turning on lights or giving power to outlets that are wired to the switch.
As its name implies, a rotary switch is operated by rotation. Usually these are used when more than two positions are needed, such as a 3 speed fan or to control the speed of a conveyor belt.
Rocker switches have a piece that rocks back and forth responding with pressure to open and close a circuit. These types of switches are often used as light switches, but can be used in many other applications. Many different types of appliances and surge protectors will use rocker switches. One of the advantages of a rocker switch is that because it lies flat, it can’t be accidentally switched on. Someone would have to put pressure on the switch to turn it on or off.
This type of switch is composed of a hinge which enables a metal lever (knife) to be pulled from or inserted into a slot. Knife switches are not commonly used anymore as the exposed metal parts present a risk for electric shock.
Push Button Switch
Push button switches are very easy to use. Think about the horn on your car, all you do is push it and it responds with a loud “honk.” You can find push button switches on all kinds of machines and gadgets such as, cameras, elevators and calculators, etc.
Mercury Tilt Switch
This switch consists of a glass bulb with a drop of mercury inside with two or more contacts. The two contacts will pass through the glass bulb and then are connected by the mercury whenever the bulb is tilted. The disadvantage to this type of switch is that they have a somewhat slow operating rate because of the unwillingness of the mercury drop so can’t be used when many operating cycles per second are required.