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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 – those satisfyingly “click” controllers of electricity – are everywhere! You’ll find them in a vast array of devices, from everyday items like toys and audio equipment to specialized instruments in medical and industrial settings. But beyond their basic “on” and “off” functions, toggle switches also come in a variety of sizes, each designed for specific needs and applications.

Whether you’re working on a new piece of audio equipment, building a custom control panel, or simply replacing a worn-out switch on your favorite appliance, understanding the different sizes of toggle switches is crucial for making the right choice.

So, let’s dive into the world of toggle switch sizes and discover which one is the ideal match for your project!

Sub-Mini Toggle Switches: Small but Mighty

These mini marvels are the smallest of the bunch, perfect for applications where space is tight. Think handheld devices, compact gadgets, or intricate instrumentation – sub-miniature toggle switches are the go-to choice when every millimeter counts. While their current capacity tends to be lower, they’re ideal for low-power electronics where space efficiency reigns supreme.

SMTS-202-A2 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

Miniature Toggle Switch: The Versatile Middle Ground

Striking a balance between size and power, miniature toggle switches are the versatile workhorses of the toggle switch family. They offer a wider range of current ratings than their sub-miniature counterparts, making them suitable for a broader spectrum of applications. From household appliances and consumer electronics to industrial control panels, miniature toggle switches are a popular choice for their adaptability and compact size.

MTS-102 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

Medium Toggle Switch: Power and Presence

When your project demands a switch with a bit more heft, medium toggle switches take the stage. These robust components offer a solid feel and the ability to handle higher currents, making them ideal for demanding environments and power hungry equipment. Whether its controlling industrial machinery, heavy duty tools, or complex power systems, medium toggle switches provide reliable performance and a satisfyingly sturdy presence.

KN3C-112 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

Choosing the perfect toggle switch size requires a balance between power requirements and available space. Consider the current requirements of your project and the physical constraints of your design. Whether you need a space-saving, ultra-compact switch or a rugged, mid-sized switch, understanding the options will ensure you find the best fit for your application.

Classification from the Function of the Toggle Switch

We have previously discussed the basics of toggle switches, including their different sizes. However, toggle switches offer a world of exciting possibilities beyond just turning on and off. There are a variety of specialized toggle switches available, each with unique features that can take your control “game” to the next level.

From switches that light up your life to those prioritizing safety and precision, lets dive into the realm of specialized toggle switches and discover the options that can perfectly match your projects needs. The main contenders in this category include:

  • LED Toggle Switches
  • Toggle Switches with Covers
  • Miniature Rocker Toggle Switches

Get ready to explore the unique capabilities of each type and discover how they can enhance your control experience!

ASW-07D 20A LED toggle switch

Illuminating Choices: LED Toggle Switch

LED toggle switches are designed to provide clear visual feedback for various applications, ranging from handheld devices and control panels to consumer electronics and instrumentation. With a built-in LED indicator, these switches allow you to know the status of your switch at a glance, even in dimly lit environments. The LED indicator shines brightly when the switch is on and goes dark when it’s off. This feature is particularly useful in ensuring that the switch is operating as intended.

Safety First: Toggle Switch with Cover

Unintentional activation of switches can cause inconvenience or even danger. However, toggle switches with covers can provide a straightforward and efficient solution. These switches have a protective cap or cover over the lever, which prevents accidental flipping and keeps your circuits undisturbed until you are ready to make a change. These switches are commonly used in vehicles to control auxiliary lighting, such as fog lights or off-road lights, where inadvertent activation could lead to problems.

miniature rocker toggle switches
toggle switch with cover

Precision and Versatility: Miniature Rocker Toggle Switches

For intricate control and complex circuit configurations, miniature rocker toggle switches step up to the challenge. These switches come in various styles, including lever handles and paddle designs, offering multiple poles and positions for versatile switching options. They are the preferred choice for telecommunications equipment, instrumentation, medical devices, and other applications demanding precision and flexibility.

It’s important to note that the world of toggle switches encompasses a wide variety of sizes and functionalities. By exploring these specialized options, you can find the ideal switch to match your project’s unique requirements and elevate your control game to a whole new level!

Components and Connection of Toggle Switches

While the flick of a toggle switch may seem like magic, there’s a fascinating interplay of components working behind the scenes. Understanding these components and how they connect to control electrical flow is key to selecting the right switch for your specific application.

Inside the Toggle Switch: A Look at the Components

A typical toggle switch consists of several key components:

  • Lever: The external part you interact with to operate the switch.
  • Spring: Provides the lever with its characteristic springback action and helps maintain contact pressure.
  • Orings: These rings ensure smooth lever movement and prevent dust or moisture from entering the switch.
  • Plunger: Transfers the levers movement to the internal contacts.
  • Moving Armature: Houses the electrical contacts and moves to open or close the circuit.
  • Case and Base: Provide structural support and house the internal components.

What are Poles and Throws?

These terms may sound technical, but they simply describe the number of circuits a switch can control and the number of positions it has.

  • Poles: A pole refers to the number of separate circuits that a switch can control independently. For example, a singlepole switch controls one circuit, while a doublepole switch controls two circuits simultaneously.
  • Throws: A throw indicates the number of positions a switch can adopt for each pole. A singlethrow switch has two positions (like ON-OFF), while a doublethrow switch has three positions (like ON-OFF-ON), allowing you to connect a circuit to one of two outputs.

More detailed version of the explanation

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.

By understanding these concepts, you can decipher the different configurations of toggle switches and choose the one that perfectly matches your projects requirements.

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

By understanding these configurations, you can choose the right toggle switch to meet your project’s specific needs, whether it’s controlling a single light, routing signals in a complex circuit, or anything in between.

Connecting the Dots: Wiring Up Your Toggle Switch

So youve chosen the perfect toggle switch for your project, but now comes the crucial step: wiring it up correctly. Dont worry, its not as daunting as it might seem! With a basic understanding of how toggle switches connect to circuits, youll be flipping that switch with confidence in no time.

Decoding the Terminals:

Before diving into wiring, lets get familiar with the terminals on your toggle switch. The number and arrangement of terminals will vary depending on the switchs configuration (SPST, SPDT, DPST, or DPDT). However, you can generally identify them as follows:

  • Common Terminal (C): This is the central point of the switch, where the current enters.
  • Normally Open (NO) Terminals: These terminals are connected to the common terminal only when the switch is in the on position.
  • Normally Closed (NC) Terminals: These terminals are connected to the common terminal only when the switch is in the off position.

Wiring Configurations:

The way you connect your toggle switch will depend on its specific configuration and the desired functionality. Here are some common scenarios:

1. SPST (Single Pole Single Throw):

  • Connect the C terminal to the power source.
  • Connect the remaining terminal to the device or load you want to control.
  • Flipping the switch will either complete the circuit (on) or break it (off).

2. SPDT (Single Pole Double Throw):

  • Connect the C terminal to the power source.
  • Connect the remaining two terminals to two different devices or loads.
  • Flipping the switch will direct power to one device or the other.

3. DPST and DPDT Configurations:

  • These configurations follow similar principles as SPST and SPDT but control two separate circuits simultaneously.
  • Each circuit will have its own set of C, NO, and/or NC terminals.

Tips for Successful Wiring:

  • Consult the datasheet: Always refer to the datasheet or diagram specific to your toggle switch model for the exact terminal layout and recommended wiring instructions.
  • Use the right gauge wire: Choose wire with an appropriate gauge (thickness) to handle the current requirements of your circuit.
  • Ensure secure connections: Make sure all connections are secure and properly insulated to prevent short circuits or electrical hazards.
  • Doublecheck your work: Before applying power, carefully review your wiring to ensure everything is connected correctly.

With a bit of knowledge and attention to detail, wiring up your toggle switch can be a straightforward and rewarding task. Remember, safety always comes first, so if youre unsure about any aspect of the wiring process, consult a qualified electrician.

The Applications of Toggle Switches

From the simplest household appliances to complex industrial machinery, toggle switches are ubiquitous, playing a crucial role in controlling a vast array of devices and systems. Let’s explore the diverse applications of these versatile switches across various industries:

Everyday Convenience:

  • Lighting Controls: Toggle switches are the goto choice for controlling lights in homes, offices, and public spaces.
  • Appliances: They power on and off numerous household appliances, from coffee makers and blenders to washing machines and air conditioners.
  • Consumer Electronics: Toggle switches are found in various consumer electronics, such as audio equipment, televisions, and gaming consoles.

Industrial and Commercial Applications:

  • Industrial Controls: Toggle switches are essential components in industrial control panels, operating machinery, motors, and other equipment.
  • Instrumentation: They serve as shutoff switches, controllers, and safety mechanisms in various instruments and testing equipment.
  • Telecommunications and Networking: Toggle switches play a role in network devices, handheld communication tools, and other telecom equipment.

Specialized Fields:

  • Medical Equipment: Toggle switches are used in medical devices, such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, and diagnostic equipment.
  • Military and Aerospace: They find applications in military vehicles, communication systems, and aerospace control panels.
  • Transportation: Toggle switches are vital components in boats, marine vessels, and off-highway construction equipment.

From the mundane to the mission-critical, toggle switches demonstrate their versatility and reliability across a vast spectrum of applications, proving their enduring importance in our modern world.


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.

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