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Comprehensive Guide To Toggle Switch: Types, Uses & More

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Toggle switches are a class of electrical switches that are manually actuated by a mechanical lever, handle, or rocking mechanism. These switches are also called toggle power switches or joystick switches and the most basic and widely used electrical components. Toggle switches are available in many different styles and sizes, and are used in numerous applications.

Toggle switches are actuators – devices for turning machines on and off. They are similar in function to rocker switches, but those feature a seesaw-shaped button that swings from one position to another and are sometimes categorized as a type of rocker switch.

How do toggle switches work?

Toggle switches working principle is that the contact is connected, the circuit is closed – live – electrical current can flow through and the attached device will turn on and operate. Then the contact is moved away again the flow of current is broken, the circuit becomes open and the device is switched off.

Guide To Toggle Switch

The Different Types of Toggle Switches

As a basic electronic component, toggle switches are available in multiple sizes and designs for different settings. Many of these switches are designed to actuate multiple sets of electrical contacts simultaneously or control large amounts of current or supply voltage.

Toggle switches’ internal contacts are made of various conductive metals, including brass, copper and silver, often plated with nickel. Different levels of contact resistance (i.e., sensitivity to current) and different maximum current ratings are also available.

Classification from the Size of the Toggle Switch

Toggle switches are widely used in various instruments or instrument equipment, various electric toys, fax machines, audio equipment, medical equipment, beauty equipment and other electronic products.

Let’s take a look at the three main sizes of diverter switch specifications:

SMTS-202-A2 sub-mini toggle switch

Sub-Mini Toggle Switch

Rating: 3A 125VAC; 1.5A 250VAC

Contact Resistance: 20mΩ max

Insulation Resistance: 500VDC 1000MΩ min

Dielectric strength: 1000VAC, 1 Minute

Operating Temperature: -25℃ to +85℃

Electrical Life: ≥10,000 Cycles

MTS-102 miniature toggle switch

Miniature Toggle Switch

Rating: 6A 125VAC; 3A 250VAC

Contact Resistance: 20mΩ max

Insulation Resistance: 500VDC 1000MΩ min

Dielectric strength: 1500VAC, 1 Minute

Operating Temperature: -25℃ to +85℃

Electrical Life: ≥10,000 Cycles

KN3C-112 medium toggle switch

Medium Toggle Switch

Rating: 10A 125VAC; 6A 250VAC

15A 125VAC; 10A 250VAC

20A 125VAC; 15A 250VAC

Contact Resistance: 20mΩ max

Insulation Resistance: 500VDC 1000MΩ min

Dielectric strength: 1500VAC, 1 Minute

Operating Temperature: -25℃ to +85℃

Electrical Life: ≥10,000 Cycles

Classification from the Function of the Toggle Switch

Other types of toggle switches mainly include LED toggle switches, toggle switches with covers and miniature rocker toggle switches, which are explained below.

LED Toggle Switch

LED toggle switches have a light emitting diode (LED) at the top, and the led indicates the state of the switch (on/off). These LED switches are typically used for handheld devices, front panel interfaces, etc.

ASW-07D 20A LED toggle switch
toggle switch with cover

Toggle Switch with Cover

These switches feature covers or caps that protect the tip of the internal lever mechanism and prevent the switch from being triggered by mistake. These switches typically control additional lighting inside the vehicle like chassis lights, fog lights, off-road lights, additional LED lights, etc.

Miniature Rocker Toggle Switches

These switches include lever handle switches and paddle switches that are multi-pole and multi-position, with a wide variety of actuator and terminal options. These switches are designed for the telecommunications, instrumentation and medical equipment industries.

miniature rocker toggle switches

Components and Connection of Toggle Switches

 A toggle switch consists of a lever, spring, O-rings, plunger, moving armature, case and base. The types of connections a switch can make depend on its essential components like pole and throw.

What are poles and throws? 

In electronics, the terms pole and throw are used to describe switches contact variations. The number of “poles” is the number of electrically independent switches controlled by a single physical actuator. For example, a “two-pole” switch has two separate, parallel sets of contacts that open and close simultaneously by the same mechanism. The number of “throws” is the number of separate wiring path choices other than “open” that the switch can adopt for each pole. A single-throw switch has one pair of contacts that can either be closed or open. A double-throw switch has a contact that can be connected to either of two other contacts, a triple-throw has a contact which can be connected to one of three other contacts, etc.

Toggle Switch Composite Diagram

Contact Configuration 

The type of switch connection depends on its basic components, such as poles and throws. The poles of switches are the individual power sources controlled through each switch, and the throws are the different positions available to the switch like on/off.

There are four basic types of these toggle switch connections, each including different pole and throw combinations – single pole single throw, single pole double throw, double pole single throw or double pole double throw.

Single Pole Single Throw (SPST)

The term SPST stands for “Single Switch Single Throw” toggle switches and includes two terminals, such as input and output. These SPST toggle switches are basic on-off switches that function primarily to turn on or off a single conductor connection in single branch circuit.

MTS-101-R MTS-111-R SPST toggle switch
SPST Switch

Single Pole Double Throw (SPDT)

The term SPDT stands for “Single Switch Double Throw” toggle switches that typically use three terminals. The SPDT toggle switches are used to turn on or off a single conductor connection to either of the other two single conductors. So these switches can power either of the two circuits. These types of toggle switches are also known as three-way toggle switches.

KN3C-102P SPDT toggle switch
SPDT Switch

Double Pole Single Throw (DPST)

The term DPST stands for “Double Switch Single Throw” and is equivalent to two SPST switches controlled by a single mechanism. These DPST toggle switches allow two different circuits to be turned on or off simultaneously, making it easy to control two devices operating side-by-side.

KN3C-201 DPST 4P toggle switch
DPST Switch

Double Pole Double Throw (DPDT)

The term DPDT stands for “Double Pole Double Throw” and is equivalent to two SPDT switches controlled by a single mechanism. These DPDT toggle switches mean that two separate circuits connect each circuit’s two inputs to one of two outputs. The position of the switch regulates the number of ways, and each contact can be routed from the two contacts.

KN3C-203 DPDT 6P toggle switch
DPDT Switch

The Applications of Toggle Switches

Toggle switches are everywhere in life, from simple (light switches) to complex (controlling high voltage circuits). They are used in the following scenarios:

  • Elevator Controls
  • Food Processing Equipment
  • Boat and Marine Control Panels
  • Test and Measurement Equipment
  • Security Systems and Metal Detectors
  • Off-Highway and Construction Equipment
  • Medical Equipment (wheelchair motor switch)
  • Instrumentation (shut-off switches, controllers)
  • Military Applications (communication switches)
  • Industrial Controls (grips, joysticks, power supplies)
  • Telecommunications and Networking Equipment (wireless network cards, handheld devices, reset switches)


Toggle switches are a type of electrical switch that is used to control the flow of electricity. They are commonly used in household appliances and electronic devices. Toggle switches come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. They can be used to control a variety of electrical devices, such as lights, fans, and computers.

We hope this blog will familiarize you with what toggle switches are, the different types of toggle switches, the different connection configurations of toggle switches, and their applications. You will also gain some basic knowledge about how it works and what its characteristics are.

If you are interested in Daier’s toggle switches, you can browse our toggle switches category, or download our toggle switches PDF to view.