Snap Action Switches Information

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Snap Action Switches InformationSnap action switches are mechanical switches that produce a very rapid transfer of contacts from one position to another. They are useful in situations that require a fast opening or closing of a circuit, such as a mouse button or appliance setting.


Actuator Styles


  • Lever actuators can be straight or formed levers.
  • A pushbutton actuator is sometimes called plunger style.
  • A roller style actuator can be actual roller or simulated roller.

Pole and Throw Configurations

Snap Action Switches InformationSingle Pole Single Throw (SPST)


SPST is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of a single conductor in a single branch circuit. This switch typically has two terminals. It is commonly referred to as a "Single-Pole" Switch.


Single Pole Double Throw (SPDT)


SPDT is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of a single conductor with either of two other single conductors. This switch typically has 3 terminals, and is commonly used in pairs and called a "Three-Way" switch.


Double Pole Single Throw (DPST)


DPST is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of two circuit conductors in a single branch circuit. This switch typically has four terminals.


Double Pole Double Throw (DPDT)


DPDT is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of two conductors to two separate circuits. This switch typically has six terminals and is available in both momentary and maintained contact versions. A normally open (NO) switch has contacts that are open or disconnected in their unactuated (normal) position. A normally closed (NC) switch has contacts that are closed or connected in their unactuated (normal) position.



Electrical Switch Specifications


  • The maximum current rating is the maximum nominal, or nameplate current capacity of a device.
  • The maximum AC voltage rating is the maximum AC voltage capacity of a device.
  • The maximum DC voltage rating is the maximum DC voltage capacity of a device.

Mechanical Switch Specifications


  • The actuating force is the force required to actuate switch.
  • The maximum operating frequency is the "fastest" rate the switch can be operated at.
  • The total travel is the total movement of switch without damage occurring (Operating Travel + Pre-travel).
  • Pre-travel is the distance if button (actuator) movement from rest position to the point of operation. Pre-travel is often specified as a maximum.
  • The operating temperature is the temperature range over which the device must operate.



Many switch manufacturers use common terminology to describe standard sizes available for switches. These standard terms are:


  • Snap Action Switches InformationSubminiature
  • Miniature
  • Standard 

Materials of Construction


  • Thermoplastics
  • Plastics
  • Metals



MIL-DTL-15291 - Switches, rotary, snap action, and detent/spring return action, general specifications





Image Credits:


Omron Electronic Components LLC | Schaltbau GmbH | C&K Components


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