Where would we be today if Benjamin Franklin never discovered electricity? Someone else would have most likely made the discovery, but without electricity, the world would be a very different place. You would not be doing what you are doing right now if it were not for electricity, and you also would not be doing what you are doing right now if it were not for the rather simple invention known as a switch.

Electrical currents flow in one direction. They flow from a power source to something that needs power in order to function. The perfect example would be a small hand held torch. The electrical current flows from the power source which in this case is a battery. From the battery, the electricity flows to a light bulb and the light gets illuminated, but there is something that makes this all work together, and that is the switch. When the torch is off, the circuit is closed. You flick the switch, or perhaps push a button to open the circuit and the electricity moves to power the light. The concept is rather simple, but sometimes switches can be a little complex.


This flashlight uses a push button switch not a reed switch.

Image credit: wikicommons Nordelch

The Basic Simple Toggle Switch

This is the most common switch that is in use today. You can find it almost anywhere. If you recently turned on a light, then you recently used a toggle switch. This is the switch that coined the term, “flick the switch.” All you need to do to operate this switch is flick it.

More Complicated Switches

There is always an opposite in everything we do. The same could be said of switches. If there is an easy to use and operate switch, then there is also going to be a switch that is a little more complicated. Take the Reed Switch for instance. There is a really good chance that the average person has never even heard of this type of switch. It is not as common as the basic toggle switch, but it may even be more important.

This type of switch is usually found in a mechanical type of device and it opens an electrical circuit via a magnetic field. This type of switch is used in quite a few mobile computers. When the mobile computer is opened, the switch ensures that everything comes on without the need to push or flick any type of button.

This type of switch also comes with accessories that are essential for it to function properly. The accessories consist of magnets in various shapes, sizes and power. The most common use for this type of switch is electrical components. They can be found in computers, assembly lines or any type of industrial electrical automated application.

Luckily for all of us, electricity and switches were discovered and put into use. Just try to think of how different your life would be without these two things. How would you function on a daily basis without electricity or a switch that allowed you to control where the electricity flowed?