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Reed relay and reed switches
Showing the contacts clearly
The reed switch is an electrical switch operated by an applied magnetic field. It was invented at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1936 by W. B. Ellwood. It consists of a pair of contacts on ferrous metal reeds in a hermetically sealed glass envelope. The contacts may be normallyopen, closing when a magnetic field is present, or normally closed and opening when a magnetic field is applied. The switch may be actuated by a coil, making a reed relay, or by bringing a magnet near to the switch. Once the magnet is pulled away from the switch, the reed switch will go back to its original position.
An example of a reed switch's application is to detect the opening of a door,when used as a proximity switch for a burglar alarm.
2.1 Reed relays
2.2 Magnetic sensors
3 Further reading
4 External articles and references
The reed switch contains a pair (or more) of magnetizable, flexible, metal reeds whose end portions are separated by a small gap when the switch is open. The reeds are hermetically sealedin opposite ends of a tubular glass envelope.
Reed switch diagrams from Ellwood's patent, U.S. Patent 2,264,746, Electromagnetic switch
A magnetic field (from an electromagnet or a permanent magnet) will cause the reeds to come together, thus completing an electrical circuit. The stiffness of the reeds causes them to separate, and open the circuit, when the magnetic field ceases. Anotherconfiguration contains a non-ferrous normally-closed contact that opens when the ferrous normally-open contact closes. Good electrical contact is assured by plating a thin layer of non-ferrous precious metal over the flat contact portions of the reeds; low-resistivity silver is more suitable than corrosion-resistant gold in the sealed envelope. There are also versions of reed switches with mercury"wetted" contacts. Such switches must be mounted in a particular orientation otherwise drops of mercury may bridge the contacts even when not activated.
Since the contacts of the reed switch are sealed away from the atmosphere, they are protected against atmospheric corrosion. The hermetic sealing of a reed switch make them suitable for use in explosive atmospheres where tiny sparks fromconventional switches would constitute a hazard.
One important quality of the switch is its sensitivity, the amount of magnetic field necessary to actuate it. Sensitivity is measured in units of Ampere-turns, corresponding to the current in a coil multiplied by the number of turns. Typical pull-in sensitivities for commercial devices are in the 10 to 60 AT range. The lower the AT, the more sensitive thereed switch. Also, smaller reed switches, which have smaller parts, are more sensitive to magnetic fields, so the smaller the reed switch's glass envelope is, the more sensitive it is.
In production, a metal reed is inserted in each end of a glass tube and the end of the tube heated so that it seals around a shank portion on the reed. Infrared-absorbing glass is used, so an infrared heat source canconcentrate the heat in the small sealing zone of the glass tube. The thermal coefficient of expansion of the glass material and metal parts must be similar to prevent breaking the glass-to-metal seal. The glass used must have a high electrical resistance and must not contain volatile components such as lead oxide and fluorides. The leads of the switch must be handled carefully to preventbreaking the glass envelope.
A TXE-3 reed relay
Main article: Reed relay
One or more reed switches inside a coil is a reed relay. Reed relays are used when operating currents are relatively low, and offer high operating speed, good performance with very small currents which are not reliably switched by conventional contacts, high reliability and long life....