Electric Switches & Electric Switch Manufacturers

Electric switches are devices that can open or close an electrical circuit. Many electric switches are binary devices that are either closed to allow the current to pass through the circuit, or they are open and unable to transmit current. Other switches have multiple closed positions that allow currents of varying voltages to pass through, which alters the output of the device or equipment to which the switch is attached.

Though all electrical switches are used to open or close electrical circuits, there are many different kinds of electronic switches. Push button and toggle switches are some of the most common electric switch varieties. Push button switches use a recessed, flush or raised button as the actuator. Toggle switches use a lever, handle or rocker as an actuator. Toggle switches are often used for quick switching, connecting and disconnecting in cases when the control devices are mounted very close to one another. Slide switches break electrical circuits by moving linearly from position to position, interrupting the current’s flow. They provide at least two switch positions, including “on” or “off,” and they are distinguished by their sliding actuators. Rocker switches move when pressed so that one end is raised while the other is depressed. Rotary switches are operated by rotating a control knob. Waterproof switches are enclosed in a watertight housing that is able to resist corrosion, salt, shock, vibrations and other potentially harmful forces. DIP switches are small banks of several switches that are installed in devices like garage door openers and remote controls. When many switches are installed in a single device, that device is often referred to as a switch panel. Switch panels can be composed of several single pole, double pole and other kinds of switches and are used to control multiple electronic circuits.

Some Leading Manufacturers

Amphenol Nexus Technologies Incorporated

Stamford, CT | 203-327-7300

As an ISO certified manufacturer, Amphenol Nexus Technologies is your source for high quality electric switches and electronic components. With more than 50 years of experience in the industry, you can count on us to satisfy all of your electric switch needs with expertise and efficiency. We are your partner when it comes to developing the right product and solution, and we will work with you to create the perfect solution for you! Contact us today to see how we can serve you!

Yaskawa America, Inc. – Drives & Motion Division

Waukegan, IL | 800-927-5292

With a reputation for exceptional customer service and reliable, high quality electronic components, Yaskawa America is the premier manufacturer of electric switches. We specialize in the manufacture of proximity, push-button, and limit switches, and our Bestact™ reed switches are some of the most reliable and functional switches on the market. We are confident that we can find the right solution for you at the right price. Check out our website or call for more information!

Douglas Corporation

Eden Prairie, MN | 800-806-6113

Douglas Corporation designs and manufactures all kinds of custom electronic switches. We take pride in the quality of our work, so we test every product for full circuit functionality before shipping. Our experienced engineers and design team are always ready to work with you to create a custom solution for your exact applications. Call us today to discuss your electric switch requirements!

EAO Switch Corporation

Shelton, CT | 203-951-4600

Since 1947, EAO Switch has been a family-owned manufacturer of high quality industrial switches and electronic control interface systems. We design and manufacture a diverse range of electric switches, including pushbuttons, emergency stop switches, sector switches, key-insert switches, lever switches, toggle switches, and more. EAO Switch is your solution-focused expert and partner, so visit our website to submit a request for quote or give us a call!

MagneLink, Inc.

Hillsboro, OR | 800-638-0801

As a leading electrical component manufacturer and supplier, MagneLink is your source for reliable and cost effective magnetic switches. We manufacture several different types of magnetic switches, including our Triac AC voltage switch, Transistor DC voltage switch, Reed light load switch, Hall sinking/sourcing switch, and coded switch. With a MagneLink switch, you extend the life of your switches and reduce costly downtimes. So connect with us today!

Electro-Mech Components, Inc.

South El Monte, CA | 888-442-7180

Here at Electro-Mech Components, we have been manufacturing electric switches and electronic components since 1966. Let us put our experience to work for you! We specialize in the design and manufacture of illuminated pushbutton switches, multi-switch interlocking assemblies, and indicator lights. For quality products and exceptional service, we guarantee 100% customer satisfaction! Give us a call or visit our website today!


Electric switches are identified by various factors, including the actuator, which is a mechanism that applies force to the switch’s contacts. Switches generally consist of conducting material, wires, terminals and actuators housed in a protective casing; these components vary in quantity and arrangement, but they are similar in that they can complete a circuit by allowing an electrical current to flow through them. Switches can be connected to each other in order to increase the circuit options, or they can be used on their own. Electric switches vary in terms of their complexity; complex switches are able to sense a light or magnetic field and react accordingly, while simple switches require physical contact between the conductors and actuator. Switches also vary in size; some are very small and necessitate a miniature tool to operate; some can be flipped with a finger while others require a strong hand.

Electronic switches are also categorized according to the arrangement of internal components. Single pole switches are general purpose switches that offer two actuator positions: “on” and “off.” Single pole switches can be either single throw or double throw, which refers to the number of conducting positions, that is, the number of terminals that will complete the circuit. A double pole switch is an electric switch with a pair of actuators that are either connected or disconnected to a circuit; they may be either single throw (ST) or double throw (DT) depending on how many conducting positions the actuator can be in. Double pole switches are also used to switch appliances using 240 volt circuits to a circuit of a different current. They are commonly are used in devices with multiple mechanical parts that function simultaneously. A switch panel allows users to quickly access a series of mounted electric switches that are arranged in an enclosure. The wires, terminals and other components are hidden within the plastic, metal or wooden housing, while the switches themselves are mounted on the panel’s face. A DIP switch is a circuit board with a packaged group of tiny electrical switches. The set is called a dual in-line package; DIP switches are very small manual binary switches and are an inexpensive way to customize an electronic device. They are easy to operate; flipping a switch turns on the component that coincides with that switch.

Electric switches were invented out of necessity. Having an electrical current flow through a circuit is beneficial, but without a safe and easy way to stop and start it, the possibilities are limited. Switches introduced a new way of using electricity. They are relatively simple and yet have been improved since the first basic switches. Smaller components allow the switches to be downsized and to fit in tighter spaces. They do not require much space, and sometimes the entire electronic device with which the switch is used can be made in a smaller size. Better materials and finer machining allow for high quality parts and components that do not wear out as quickly and that can provide the same service for hundreds if not thousands of repetitions during the switches’ lifetime. These switches can be used in demanding environments where their functionality is critical. Some switches are used with other switches for precise control of the circuit. Using electric switches also helps conserve energy because unused circuits can be shut off, which saves electricity. Instead of having a device or appliance running constantly, they may be powered on only when in use due to the use of an electric switch. Although switches may seem to be simple and basic to their users today, they remain important parts of the devices on which much of the world has come to rely.

GOT Interface LLC

Electric Membrane Switches and PanelsElectric Switches – GOT Interface LLC

Types of Electrical Switches

Below are brief descriptions of some of the more popular and more commonly used electrical switches:

Toggle Switches
Toggle switches are used to control the flow of electrical power to a device by toggling to one of two or more different positions. The most basic toggle switches simply toggle between off and on, but some more complex toggle switches may have more than two positions. The switch is most commonly comprised of a lever or handle, which is used to switch between the different positions, and an internal spring keeps the lever held tightly in place at each of its set positions. These switches can be used for applications ranging from controlling household lights to industrial machinery, and many switches can handle switching 250 VAC at currents around 1 amp.

Push Button Switches
Push button switches allow for two-position control, which is activated through the pushing of a button. Pushing the button “in” provides a connection in the internal circuit therefore turning on the device to which the switch is connected. A spring within the switch always pushes the button toward its “out,” or off, position, so once the button is released the circuit loses connection, turning off the device. This is especially useful for applications requiring only brief connection or momentary electrical input.

Rotary Switches
While many other electrical switches are activated by flipping a lever or pushing a button, rotary switches are activated by rotating a knob. This kind of switch is typically used for applications requiring more than just on and off options since they can be rotated to a variety of different positions. Due to this feature, they allow one point to be connected to one of many different points within an electronic circuit. These switches come in a variety of forms, including rotary switches consisting of three levels all connected to a common shaft.

Proximity Switches
As its name suggests, a proximity switch is activated as it senses an object coming near it. These switches are typically utilized in machinery, and they use magnetic and high frequency electromagnetic fields to sense metallic machinery components as they approach the switch location therefore triggering the switch to close. This effect is accomplished by energizing a coil of wire with a high frequency current, which is then monitored. The approach of a metallic object or component causes the current in the coil to increase, triggering the switch. Not all proximity switches use this mechanism, however. Some instead use an optical mechanism, which utilizes photocells that monitor incoming light. In this case, the switch is triggered when the incident light is blocked or interrupted.

Speed Switches
A speed switch monitors the rotational motion and speed of a shaft or other rotating component, and once the speed of the component reaches a set point, the control circuit is switched or energized. The speed switch can monitor the shaft speed in a variety of ways, including a centrifugal weight mechanism, magnetic pick-up mechanism, or optical mechanism.

Temperature Switches
Temperature switches utilize a strip of bimetallic materials, which is a strip comprised of two metals with differing thermal characteristics combined back to back. Specifically, these metals must have a dissimilar coefficient of thermal expansion. When the strip is heated or cooled, this difference causes the strip to bend one way or the other, and this bending can be used as a contact mechanism. The strip can be oriented in such a way as to make the strip bend and make contact with the circuit when heated and bend away from the circuit when cooled, or vice versa.

Joystick Switches
Like a toggle switch, a joystick is controlled by a lever. However, the lever in a joystick switch can move in more than one axis, allowing for a larger number of control options. These switches typically contain many contact mechanisms which are not only stimulated by the direction of the lever, but also by how far the lever is pushed in a certain direction. This kind of switch is commonly used in motion control devices and offers both course and fine control.