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In electronics, a switch is an electrical component that can break an electrical circuit, interrupting the current or diverting it from one conductor to another.[1][2] The most familiar form of switch is a manually operated electromechanical device with one or more sets of electrical contacts. Each set of contacts can be in one of two states: either 'closed' meaning the contacts are touching and electricity can flow between them, or 'open', meaning the contacts are separated and nonconducting.

A switch may be directly manipulated by a human as a control signal to a system, such as a computer keyboard button, or to control power flow in a circuit, such as a light switch. Automatically-operated switches can be used to control the motions of machines, for example, to indicate that a garage door has reached its full open position or that a machine tool is in a position to accept another workpiece. Switches may be operated by process variables such as pressure, temperature, flow, current, voltage, and force, acting as sensors in a process and used to automatically control a system. For example, a thermostat is a temperature-operated switch used to control a heating process. A switch that is operated by another electrical circuit is called a relay. Large switches may be remotely operated by a motor drive mechanism. Some switches are used to isolate electric power from a system, providing a visible point of isolation that can be pad-locked if necessary to prevent accidental operation of a machine during maintenance, or to prevent electric shock.


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