6 Types of Residential Electrical Switches

Published: 24th May 2010
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Residential electrical switches are devices that control the flow of electrons in an electrical circuit. They are binary devices; they are either on (closed) or off (open). Residential switches are designed to be operated by hand and are also known as hand switches.

Single Pole Switch

It turns a light or electrical appliance on or off from a single location. This type of switch is marked with an on or off marking. To use it correctly, make sure that it is wired correctly in position so that the on and off marks appear properly. The switch has two terminals. The brass colored terminal is for the hot incoming and the other is for the outgoing hot wire to the switch.

Toggle Switches

The common light switch in the home is a good example of a toggle switch. It is operated by a lever angled in one of two or multiple positions. When pushed or pressed, they rest on their lever position. Others are designed with an internal spring mechanism that returns the lever to a normal position after being turned on or off.

Joystick Switches

The lever found in joystick switches is designed to move freely in more than one axis. More than one switch mechanisms can be actuated depending on which way the lever on the switch is pushed. The lever also turns depending on how much it is pushed too. The switch has a circle and dot notation which indicates the direction required to actuate contact. These are used to control video games and robots.

Selector Switches

For selector switches, a rotary knob or lever is used to select one of two states. They can rest on either of the two positions when actuated. They are sometimes designed with a spring return mechanism that provides momentary operation.

Push Button Switches

These are operated by press and release mechanism. They are two position devices and most of them are designed with a spring mechanism which returns the switch to an out or un-pressed position. This provides a momentary action. There are push button switches that remain in an on or off position with every push of the button.

Motion Operated Switches or Limit Switches

There are machines in the household that are designed to be controlled by motion rather than human operation. They are commonly used to limit a machine's motion. It turns off power to equipment if it moves too far.

Other Types of Switches

There are many more different types of switches. These are commonly used in large scale operations. They are found in industries, nuclear reactors and processing plants. Some are designed to work efficiently to provide effective response in different applications. A good example is the proximity optical switch. It uses light to detect a machines position or even determine people's position in a building.

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