General Question

pallen123's avatar

How do magnetic switches work?

Asked by pallen123 (1511 points ) December 29th, 2013

I’m looking for a low cost magnetic switch for a hobby project that will turn on when put in contact with steel. I was thinking of using a window or door security switch but I don’t really know how those work. Do those consist of a magnet side and a metal side or two magnets? Should it work for my purposes?

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7 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall_effect_sensor <—- this is how they work, I use them all the time. You can also use a magnetic reed switch. If metal is your target then a prox switch will work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximity_sensor

pallen123's avatar

Thanks @ARE_you_kidding_me! I want it to be as inexpensive and reliable as possible. Think the prox switch is a better direction to explore? When it’s a half in from steel I want it to switch on and when it’s farther away I want it switched off.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Magnetic switches are off or on when energized by a magnet.

Not a piece of steel.

Security switches are tripped by a magnet, opening and closing a door

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

For just a simple switch does it have to be contact free? What exactly are you trying to accomplish?

LuckyGuy's avatar

The typical magnetic switches commonly seen on doors and window consist of a magnet side and an internal reed switch. Radio shack sells them.
If you want something special you can buy your own magnet and reed switches from DigiKey.

pallen123's avatar

It’s for a temporary battery powered light up sign we want to be able to throw up on the side of my cousin’s food truck at night. It’s battery powered with lights and a spinning donut made of foam. We wanted to put some rare earth magnets in the base so we could just quickly add/remove it and thought if we added a magnetic switch it could also trip the lights and motor.

johnpowell's avatar

While that might be fun to do is it really practical? Why not use a three dollar switch from Home Depot?

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