What are Pressure Switches & how do they operate?

Pressure switches happen to fall under the category of “pressure sensors.” A pressure sensor is a device used for measuring the pressure of liquids and gasses. As such, the pressure sensor category also includes pressure transmitters, pressure senders, and pressure transducers. In the realm of instrumentation and processing, a sensor can be defined as a device used for detecting changes in electrical, physical, and chemical properties, while producing an electrical output as a result of that change. In this blog, to better understand the function and use of pressure switches, we will discuss the components that comprise them, and their various types.

In general, a pressure switch is referred to as a two-part device that consists of an electrical switch and a sensing transducer. When employed, the electrical switch present in the pressure switch will only open and close once instigated by a specific pressure known as the “setpoint.” Additionally, depending on the manufacturer and switch, the setpoint may be adjusted or fixed to a certain level.

Featured components present among most pressure switches include transducers, which are responsible for converting one form of energy into another. Furthermore, they are the part of the pressure switch that comes in contact with the process under test. Next, the transducer will have to operate the electrical switch with the aid of a device such as a solid-state. Currently, there are two types of pressure switches available in the market: solid-state and electromechanical pressure switches.

1. Electromechanical pressure switches

Electromechanical pressure switches have all the conventional components comprising mechanical switches, with the addition of moving parts. These switches can be further classified based on the type of transducers they use to operate the switch mechanically, those of which commonly include diaphragm and Bourdon tube types. While similar on one hand, diaphragm switches utilize a metal diaphragm for operating a switch, whereas Bourdon tube switches utilize bourdon tubes for operating a switch.

2. Solid-state

This type of switch has no moving parts. Solid-state switching is obtained by operating semiconductor devices like field-effect transistors and bipolar junction transistors. Transducers used in solid-state pressure switches also commonly include strain gauge Wheatstone Bridges.

Electromechanical vs. Solid-state

Generally, the choice between each type depends on your particular needs. Solid-state pressure switches have many benefits over electromechanical switches. Solid-state switches have proven to be more accurate, have a longer service life, and have better vibration and shock resistance. In general, electromechanical switches are better at switching higher currents in addition to being voltage-independent.


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