Alternatives to Hard-to-Find Switches

Posted on May 24, 2022 by Robert Iversrud

Some DC electromechanical switches are hard to come by in today’s environment of materials  shortages and shipping constraints. In contrast, solid-state switches and contactors can be easier to source and offer many advantages over traditional switches—often at the same price point.


Solid-State DC Contactors

Solid-state DC contactors such as the InPower SSC line shown above are ideal for managing high-current DC load applications such as master battery disconnect switching, auxiliary air conditioner units, lights, and hydraulic motors. They provide reliable on-off switching like standard electromechanical contactors and solenoids, with attractive features such as overcurrent shutdown protection and maximum voltage spike suppression for high inductive loads.


Solid-State Auxiliary Battery Switches

Solid-state auxiliary battery switches are ideal for charging and isolating an auxiliary battery from a vehicle’s chassis battery and alternator. The auxiliary battery is charged from the chassis battery and alternator while the chassis battery is protected from auxiliary battery load discharge. Auxiliary battery switches combine functions typically done by battery separators and isolators and can monitor voltage, time delay, on-off, and more.

Shown here: An ABS3 Solid State Auxiliary Battery Switch from InPower.

Installation and Mounting Flexibility

As you can see from the examples above, solid state contactors and switches are small, thin, and lightweight compared to most electromechanical models. They are easy to install and can fit into tight or narrow spaces. They can be mounted in almost any position – vertically, horizontally, even upside down—unlike electromechanical switches which must be mounted upright to ensure the functionality and integrity of their parts. And there’s no need for a heat sink with solid-state switches because they generate minimal heat during operation.

Smart Features

Solid-state battery switches do everything electromechanical switches can do—and more. Many solid-state switches are programmable, offering the ability to set voltage ranges and cutoff times. Most will monitor inrush currents, detect loss of ground, and provide over-current, over-voltage and over-temperature protection.

Speed and Responsiveness

Solid-state DC contactors and switches are typically faster and more responsive than electromechanical switches. Solid-state switches require only milliamps to activate, drawing less power off the main system. And their quick switching speed is ideal for sensitive electrical systems or electronics that require a fast cutoff time to prevent inrush damage. When you want to shut off current without lag time, solid-state technology is a dependable way to go.

Durability and Longevity

Solid-state components are impervious to the jostling and vibrations that can compromise electromechanical components with moving parts. Over time, electromechanical contacts wear down, slow down, and eventually fail after a certain number of cycles. Solid-state switches with their robust design and low heat generation provide an added degree of longevity and safety to your electrical system.

Price and Availability

Many solid-state contactors and switches are equivalent in price to their electromechanical counterparts. And since they are likely to last much longer, their total cost of ownership is lower. Finally, because they are less reliant on materials such as copper and nickel, solid-state switches are often easier to source in the current supply chain landscape.

In summary, you get many advantages with solid-state switches and few of the drawbacks associated with traditional electromechanical switches. Before you design in another electromechanical switch, consider a solid-state alternative. It might just be the solution you’ve been looking for.

Learn more about solid-state components available at Waytek, including: