Vehicle Switches, Panels & Relays
Switches, panels, and relays are used throughout a vehicle, in many locations. They all work together to control the flow of electricity, to many components in a vehicle. Most automobiles use a 12 volt battery which is a lot of power for something like a stereo or headlight. Switches, panels, and relays work together to ensure that the right component is getting electricity, and that it has the right amount of power.
Relays are electrically operated switches,which control the amount of electricity that flows through a circuit. Relays work by using a small amount of power in the electromagnet to move an armature, that is able to switch a much larger amount of power. Relays are different from switches because they can switch power on and off even if connected to a high current load. For example, the air conditioner in your house uses a lot of current and uses large capacity wiring. If you did not have a relay to control when the air conditioning turns on and off, the large wires would have to go to your thermostat in the house which would need to be heavy duty to handle the large amounts of current. With the use of a relay, you use low voltage small wiring to send a signal to the relay that will then do the heavy load connection to turn on the air conditioner.
Relays consist of a coil of wire that is wrapped around a soft iron core, an iron yoke which provides a low reluctance path for magnetic flux, a movable iron armature, and one or more sets of contacts. The armature is hinged to the yoke and mechanically linked to one or more sets of moving contacts. It is held in place by a spring so that when the relay is de-energized, there is an air gap in the magnetic circuit. When an electric current is passed through the coil of a relay, it generates a magnetic field that activates the armature. This movement of the movable contact either makes or breaks the connection with a fixed contact. If the set of contacts was closed when the relay was de-energized, then the movement opens the contacts and breaks the connection, and vice versa if the contacts were open.
Switches are used on electrical circuits to control the flow of electricity. Switches can be closed, which completes the circuit and allow the flow of electricity. Or switches can be open, which breaks the flow of electricity. A switch has two conductive pieces which are usually made of metal, called contacts that touch to complete a circuit. Switches can be operated manually or by sensors which measure pressure, temperature, current, voltage and force. Switches are more common in applications that use low current. If a switch is exposed to larger amounts of current then it can handle, it will likely melt and cause a break in the circuit.
Panels are placed in cars to house switches and relays. Panels can be as simple as the ones on the inside of a car door. Panels are also used in racing to control the ignition, and pumps, which may need to be shut off in case of an emergency. Panels are designed to protect the wires from water,and debris.
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