Slide switches are mechanical switches defined by their method of activation. The switch is a slider that moves (slides) from position to position. Depending on the actuator type, the handle is either flush or raised. Electrical specifications, physical size, terminal type, materials of construction, and features are important parameters to consider. Electrical specifications for slide switches include: maximum current rating, maximum AC voltage, maximum DC voltage, maximum power rating, and maximum mechanical life. Slide switch sizes are usually described as subminiature, miniature, and standard. There are many different terminal types for slide switches. Examples include: feed-through style, wire leads, solder terminals, screw terminals, quick connect or blade terminals, surface mount technology (SMT), straight PC pins, right angle PC pins, and side PC pins. With regard to materials of construction, most slide switch bases and slide switch actuators are made of plastic, thermoplastic, or metal materials. In terms of features, slide switches may include a pilot light, illuminated switch, imprinted markings, wiping contacts, locking switch, time delay, CE certification, CSA certification, or UL listing. Dustproof, weather resistant, and waterproof slide switches are also available.
Pole and Throw Configurations
Pole and throw configurations for slide switches can be single pole single throw (SPST), single pole double throw (SPDT), double pole single throw (DPST), or double pole double throw (DPDT). SPST slide switches make or break the connection of a single conductor in a single branch circuit. This switch type typically has two terminals and is referred to as a single-pole switch. SPDT slide switches make or break the connection of a single conductor with either of two other single conductors. These switches usually have three terminals and are commonly used in pairs. SPDT switches are sometimes called three-way switches. DPST slide switches make or break the connection of two circuit conductors in a single branch circuit. They usually have four terminals. DPDT slide switches make or break the connection of two conductors to two separate circuits. They usually have six terminals are available in both momentary and maintained contact versions. A normally open (NO) slide switch has contacts that are open or disconnected in their unactuated (normal) position. A normally closed (NC) slide switch has contacts that are closed or connected in their unactuated (normal) position.
Maintained-Contact and Momentary-Contact
Maintained-contact slide switches and momentary-contact slide switches differ in terms of switch configuration. Maintained-contact slide switches are described as ON/OFF, ON/ON (Low/High), three-position center-OFF, and three-position no center-OFF. ON/OF slide switches have separate ON and OFF functions and work like light switches. ON/ON or Low/High slide switches have two states, both of which perform ON functions. Three-position slide switches have a center position that may or may not perform an OFF function. Switch functions for momentary-contact slide switches include: momentary ON (NO), momentary OFF (NC), alternate ON/OFF, three-position momentary center-OFF, and three-position momentary central-NEUTRAL. Momentary ON describes contacts which interrupt the circuit when the slide switch is in the normal, open (NO) position. Momentary OFF describes contacts which establish a circuit when the slide switch is in the normal, closed (NC) position. Alternate ON/OFF describes a switch where the first actuation turns the slide switch ON and the second actuation turns the slide switch OFF. Three-position momentary center switches have a center position that can perform an OFF or NEUTRAL function.