Electrical switches on the foundation on which nearly all electrical devices are built. They provide a mechanism for controlling the flow of electricity to a given circuit. From simple keypads to smart appliances and other complex electronics, switches are used in most electronics. What is an electrical switch exactly, and how do they work?

Overview of Electrical Switches

An electrical switch is a component that’s used to control a circuit. Circuits, of course, complete or interrupt the conductive path of electricity. Electricity travels from one component to another component via a conductive path. Switches are used within these conductive paths to provide a means of controlling electricity.

How Electrical Switches Work

Although they sound complex, electrical switches work in a very simple way. They contain two different positions: opened and closed. In the opened position, the switch’s underlying circuit is broken. Therefore, electricity can’t travel through the conductive path. In the closed position, the switch’s underlying circuit is complete. A complete circuit means the conductive path isn’t interrupted, in which case electricity can travel through the conductive path.

Electrical switches are often connected to a button or key that, when pressed, will change its position. If you press a switch’s button or key, the switch’s position will change. Buttons and keys are used to control the switch’s position. As a result, they provide a mechanism for interrupting the flow of electricity.

The Different Types of Electrical Switches

While all electrical switches are used to control a circuit, they aren’t all the same. There are several types of electrical switches. Silicone rubber keypads, for instance, are defined by their use of silicone rubber webbing material. They have a circuit in the center. Around this circuit is silicone rubber material that’s formed in the shape of a shell.

Another common type of electrical switch is capacitive. Capacitive switches are known as touch switches because they require physical contact with a finger — or other conductive object — to open or close their respective circuit. Capacitive switches are similar to capacitive touchscreens. Unless they are exposed to a conductive object, they won’t respond by opening or closing the circuit. Capacitive switches, however, are highly responsive and require very minimal pressure.

In Conclusion

An electrical switch is a component that’s used in electrical devices to control the flow of electricity. They are known as “switches” because they allow for the underlying circuit to be “switched” on or off.