Glossary of Terms

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  • AWG:
    A standard system used for designating the size of electrical conductors. Abbreviated AWG. Based on specified ranges of circular mil area. American Gauge numbers have an inverse relationship to size.
  • Bezel Mount:
    Switch mounting method from the front of the panel that has an attractive portion of the switch exposed on the front panel.
  • Bifurcated Contact:
    A wiping movable contact consisting of spring fingers that grip the fixed contact. Typically found in slide switches.
  • Blade:
    The moveable component of the switch used to complete the electrical circuit. (See Figure 1)
  • Boot:
    A rubber part used to protect a switch from water or dust. Usually found between the button of a switch and the case inside of the switch. An external boot can be placed over a button or toggle lever to protect the switch from water or dust.
  • Bounce:
    Rebounding of moving contact from the fixed contact during contact transfer (during switch operation).
  • Brass:
    An alloy of zinc and copper
  • Break:
    An interruption in a circuit. Denotes the number of pairs of separated contacts the switch introduces into each circuit it opens.
  • Break Before Make:
    The moving contacts of a double throw switch interrupts one circuit before completing another circuit.
  • Bus Bars:
    Rigid conductors serving as a connection for two or more circuits.
  • Butt Contact:
    A contact mechanism in which the movable contact makes contact with the stationary contact without wiping motion between the surfaces. Typical of toggle and pushbutton switches.
  • Butterfly:
    The snap-action mechanism in a switch composed of the spring guide, two switch blades and extension spring: a double break mechanism.
  • Cadmium Oxide:
    A compound added to silver to make it more able to resist welding.
  • Capacitive load:
    A load in which the initial current on making (closing) of the contacts is higher than the steady state current. Current leads voltage in capacitive loads. See Resistive Load, Inductive Load, Power Factor, Inrush.
  • Capacity:
    Usually refers to the current handling capability of a switch.
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