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What is a Push Button Switch?

Pressing a button switch controls an event in a machine or some other type of process. They are common features in the home and workplace and are also referred to as push buttons or push switches.

The buttons are usually made from plastic or metal and the push button can be flat or adjusted to ergonomic specifications. There are various different buttons for switching modes, which are activated by a momentary or latching action.

How Does a Push Button Switch Work?

Most push-button switches work the same way. Pressure is applied to the button or actuator, causing the internal spring to decelerate and hold and hold the stable handle at the bottom of the switch. 

This process closes or opens the electrical circuit. The repeated application of pressure causes the spring to return and change the shape of the button connection.

You can choose between push buttons with normally open or closed switches, which change the state of the actuation. Continuous pressure should be kept on the switch button for a while to activate the action. However, it will remain firmly inside the latching push button until pressure is applied again.

Push Button Switch Diagram

The diagram on the right shows how a push button can be used next to a gear switch as part of a quick start-off circuit.

This schematic shows the basic circuit design and wiring required for this specific application.

Push Button Switch Tools

The push button switch has a wide range of applications and are often integrated into calculators, push button phones, and various home and work appliances. Such switches can turn the device on or off. 

Alternatively, they can cause some kind of action, as is the case with the calculator.

In many cases, the buttons will have a specific color to help indicate their actions. This ensures that the chance of someone pressing the button by mistake is minimized. For example, red usually indicates stopping, while green usually indicates starting the machine. 

Emergency stop buttons are usually large and red and have large heads for ease of use.

Other push button switch applications include:

Reset switch – usually small and can be turned on and off with a key

Stopping the machine – various switches usually found on or next to industrial machinery, used to stop operation in case of emergency.

Arcade games – these switches are usually rotating and are used to control game elements

Other uses of push buttons include:

  • The toilet flushes
  • Shower systems
  • Electric light

Types of button switches

There are different types, each with different advantages. It depends on factors such as the intended function, motor characteristics, and IP rating.

Common types include:

Arduino Push Buttons

With the support of an international community of developers, Arduino is a very easy-to-use hardware and software developer. The buttons are often integrated with Arduino circuit boards, enabling them to control the function of a variety of devices.

2-Position Push Button Switches

These have two settings for turning off the connected device. It is common for these switches to be encased in protective plastic, with a key required to operate.

Dual Push Button Switch

Similar to the two-position type, two push button switches feature one button to connect the power and one to disconnect. The button is usually green; the delete button is red. Leds are another common feature, with backlighting indicating the status of the device.

Miniature Push Button Switch

Miniature or small push button switches are available from various brands such as C&K. They are often used to repair small electronic products.

Push to break the Switches

Also referred to as normally closed (NC), push-to-break switches are the most commonly used variant, operating opposite to the latching and momentary types. Electricity can flow to the circuit when no pressure is being applied to the button. However, the flow will be broken on clicking. 

The switch can remain on in any position, with the connection made and broken from different devices.

Push to Make a Change

Pushing a 12v switch enables electricity to flow through each contact point. The connection will be broken as soon as the button is released. Common examples include doorbells, reading buttons, and keyboard keys. Some show both push to make and push to break ranges, depending on the wiring of the switch.

Square Push Button Switch

The square push button switch features square buttons and comes in different colors. They are usually found on mechanical and automatic devices.

Circuit Board Push Button Switches

These circuit board switches prohibit the flow of electricity until a button is pressed. They work through the user interface and are usually connected to a printed circuit board. They are often used to power keyboards, keypads, and interface control panels.

Tactile Push Button Switches

Also known as tact switches, these compact switches are usually designed to be mounted on PCB boards. They require little power to operate the switch and usually make a sound to indicate whether the power is circulating or not. Some tactile switches also feature LED lights. This illuminated operation indicates that the device is on or off, or has a fault.

Panel Mounted Push Button Switches

Panel push buttons are specially designed to adhere to rigid installations. Reference should be made to the technical data to determine the size of the cut-out panel. They are often used to power electrical appliances in homes and workplaces.

Push Button PCB Switch

These surface-mounted PCB switches are designed to fit on top of the PCB. Through-hole or thru-hole types are connected through holes drilled on printed circuit boards, with solder applied to the pads on the reverse side. On the other hand, high-end models are designed to connect directly to the top of the board.

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