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How does a push-button work? Where are push buttons used? Is a push button and switch the same?

Have you ever wondered how a push-button actually works? You press a button and something happens, but what goes on in between is a mystery to many. The funny thing is, the functionality really isn’t all that complicated to understand. In this article, we’re going to talk about how push buttons work, what applications they are most commonly used in, and whether pushbuttons and switches are the same.

An introduction to push buttons

The push or “power” button was invented back in 1973. The power symbol, one of the most recognisable icons in the world, is a 0 with a 1 inside it – indicating that the same device can be used to turn something off and on again.

A push-button is a switch that is most commonly used to turn a control circuit on and off again. It is also the most common control switch for appliances.

Push buttons are used in electrical automatic control circuits in order to manually send control signals to control contractors, electromagnetic starters, and relays (to name a few). The defining characterising of push buttons is that they must be installed inside a machine or instrument for the process to work, and remains in a free-state position until needed. When needed, it is pushed in using an external force to activate.

The push-button switch completes basic controls such as starting, stopping, moving forward, and reversing. Typically, each pushbutton will have two pairs of contacts, a NO and NC contact. When the button is pressed, both the NO and NC components act simultaneously: the NC is disconnected, while the NO is closed.

The function of each button tends to be represented using different colours (e.g., red for stop, green for go). But, how does it actually work?

How does a push-button work?

How does a push-button work? Again, the process is actually quite simple. The majority of pushbuttons work in the same way and that is by having pressure placed on the button (or actuator), thus resulting in a depression of the internal spring component. This then creates contact with the contacts at the bottom of the switch. The process itself will either open or close an electrical circuit.

When pressed again, the repeat application of pressure retracts the spring, altering the status of the push-button connection and then reversing the action (opening or closing an electrical circuit).

There are other functions that a simple push-button can feature, for example, prolonged pressure being maintained on a button in order to achieve a different result from a simple on/off functionality.

 

Where are push buttons used?

So, where are push buttons typically used? While push button switches have so many different applications, they are most commonly used within actuators, phones, and various other domestic and/or workplace appliances. They are typically used to turn a device on and off.

Again, most buttons have specific colouring helping the user to understand the functionality of the button. This is to ensure that people do not press the button by mistake.

Push buttons are most typically used as:

  • Toilet flushes
  • Shower systems
  • Lights
  • On/off for appliances such as washing machines and blenders

 

Other applications for push buttons include:

  • Reset switches (to reset devices such as a digital watch)
  • Stopping heavy machinery (safety switch to cut off power in the event of an emergency)
  • Arcade games (using a push button switch to control the various elements on a gaming machine)

 

Is a push button and switch the same?

Pushbuttons and switches are often confused when their functionality is fundamentally different. While they may be used for the same purpose, the function itself varies. For example, a switch is a binary device that has an on or off position. A button on the other hand is a binary device that has a momentary-on position that reverts back to off. Buttons are typically used to send a signal to another device that changes its state from on to off or reverse. A switch on the other hand directly changes the state from on to off and remains as such until switched again.

 

Conclusion

To recap:

  • A push-button is a switch that is most commonly used to turn a control circuit on and off again. It is also the most common control switch for appliances.
  • Most push buttons work in the same way; by having pressure placed on the button (or actuator), thus resulting in a depression of the internal spring component, creating contact with the contacts at the bottom of the switch; the process itself will either open or close an electrical circuit.
  • Push buttons are used as toilet flushes, on appliances, as lights, and so much more. They can also be used for arcade machines, as reset switches, or to stop heavy machinery in an emergency.
  • Pushbuttons and switches are often confused when their functionality is fundamentally different. While they may be used for the same purpose, the function itself varies. Buttons have a temporary on/off position – switches have permanent on/off positions that must be reversed to undo the action.

 

We hope that this article has been helpful for you and that now you have a clearer understanding of how buttons and switches work. If you want to learn more about push buttons and their applications, we recommend researching a reputable supplier, such as sqdgroups.com. There you can find more detailed information regarding the various electronic products associated with buttons and switches.

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