A pressure switch is a device that detects the presence of fluid pressure. Pressure switches use a variety of sensing elements such as diaphragms, bellows, bourdon tubes, or pistons. The movement of these sensors, caused by pressure fluctuation, is transferred to a set of electrical contacts to open or close a circuit.
|Pressure Switch Symbols|
One of the earliest and most common designs of pressure switch was the bourdon tube pressure sensor with mercury switch. When pressure is applied, the bourdon tube flex’s enough to tilt the glass bulb of the mercury switch so that the mercury flows over the electrical contacts, thus completing the circuit. the glass bulb tilts far enough to cause the mercury to fall against a pair of electrodes, thus completing an electrical circuit. Many of these pressure switches were sold on steam boilers. While they became a de facto standard, they were sensitive to vibration and breakage of the mercury bulb.
Pressure switches using micro type electrical switches and force-balanced pressure sensors is another common design. The force provided by the pressure-sensing element against a mechanical spring is balanced until one overcomes the other. The tension on the spring may be adjusted to set the tripping point, thus providing an adjustable setpoint.
One of the criteria of any pressure switch is the deadband or (reset pressure differential). This setting determines the amount of pressure change required to re-set the switch to its normal state after it has tripped. The “differential” pressure of a pressure switch should not to be confused with differential pressure switch, which actually measures the difference in pressure between two separate pressure ports.