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What are Pressure Switches?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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A pressure switch is a mechanism that is designed to initiate an electrical connection when a certain amount of pressure is placed on it. There are many different types of such switches, although all can be classified under two specific categories: pneumatic and hydraulic. Switches of this kind are used in pools, various types of appliances, machinery in factories, and a number of other applications.

Pneumatic pressure switches are helpful in the proper charging of different types of batteries; in particular, designs that use a combination of nickel and some other metal. Essentially, the switch helps to regulate the rate of charge, preventing the battery from receiving too much current. This is an example of a switch that functions based on rising pressure, since it will activate in order to begin the charging process, but will also stop when the pressure reaches a certain level.

Another application of a pneumatic switch has to do with regulating the function of a gas compressor. In this application, the pressure serves as the means of determining when to shut off the flow of electricity into the compressor, thus preventing an overload situation. From this perspective, it can be thought of as a safety measure.

Hydraulic pressure switches are used in a variety of ways, and ones found on cars and trucks are a classic example. This type of switch causes a warning light to come on if the oil pressure drops to a level that is likely to cause problems for the engine. Those built into the brake system activate the brake lights when the pressure rises due to the driver depressing the brake pedal and increasing the pressure found in the hydraulic brake pipes. Other switches throughout various components, including air filtration and conditioning systems, also activate and shut down according to the presence of various levels of pressure.

These switches can also be found in pool systems that help to regulate the temperature of the water. They make it possible to enjoy heated pools in winter months while also enjoying a pleasant temperature even in during the height of the summer season. While the switches come in a variety of sizes and designs, they all serve the useful purpose of making it possible to control the level of pressure within a given device, making it safer to operate the device without fear of any type of malfunction.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including About Mechanics, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By giddion — On Aug 14, 2012

My husband recently told me that I'm not applying pressure correctly to the brakes in my car. He was following behind me in his truck, and he said that every time I slowed down, my lights were flashing on and off rapidly.

He told me that I am probably hesitating a bit with my foot or starting to slow down too soon. He thinks I should wait until I'm really close to my turn to put pressure on the brakes, because then, the lights would turn fully red like they are supposed to.

I just don't want to wind up ramming someone from behind because I didn't slow down soon enough. Now, I am paranoid about what the people behind me are seeing and whether or not I have fully activated the pressure switch.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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