How Does a Footswitch Work – Schneider Footswitches

How Does a Footswitch Work – Schneider Footswitches

It is quite evident from the name that footswitches are operated by the user’s foot. Also known as foot pedals and pedal switches, these switches are available in different varieties and can be used for various purposes. 

A footswitch is usually used over regular switches because it provides greater and more convenient control when both hands are needed for doing any operation. One of the best examples in this regard is the gas pedal of a car. While driving, the hands remain engaged on the steering wheel. With a foot pedal, it becomes easy to accelerate or stop the car, keeping the hands free for steering the car. Apart from the car pedals, different other kinds of shaping and cutting tools at industrial plants use a footswitch for enhanced safety and convenience for the user. 

In this article, we will discuss the different kinds of footswitches, what they are used for, the advantages and disadvantages of using footswitches, and where to find the best footswitches in India

What are the different types of footswitches?

You will find different kinds of footswitches available in the market, and you can purchase the one that best suits your specific requirements. However, keep in mind that all footswitches are not suitable for all kinds of work. Hence, let us take a look at the different varieties of footswitches available and what they are typically used for. 

  • Foot Pedal Potentiometers

Also known as a variable speed footswitch, a foot pedal potentiometer has some similarities with a regular foot pedal or a typical footswitch. However, there is a difference in that the foot pedal potentiometer is used for controlling the speed of the device connected to it. Generally, foot pedal potentiometers are used in combination with a variable-speed motor. 

The amount of pressure applied on the foot pedal potentiometer makes the electric motor run slow or fast and defines the speed accordingly. Foot pedal potentiometers are used for controlling speeds in cutting machines, shearing machines, and sewing machines. 

Read More: An Essential Guide To Understanding Pressure Switches

  • Foot Switch Bellows

Popularly known as air actuators, foot switch bellows are used in potentially unsafe environments. With a foot switch bellow, any electrical circuit can be controlled safely and securely from a distance, thereby ensuring the safety of the user. On pushing down the top of the foot switch bellow, the air thrust moves down the tube towards the switch element. The bellows increase inside the switch thus making electrical connections. 

Foot switch bellows are usually made of PVC. As a result, they are quite durable, strong, and sturdy. Foot switch bellows are of great help in wet and damp areas where normal electrical switching would not only be quite difficult to operate but also dangerous for the users. As these foot switches are reliable and safe to use in the presence of powders, vapours, or explosive gases, they are commonly seen in battery charging rooms, garages, and labs. 

  • USB Foot Switches

USB foot pedal or a USB foot switch works with any computer/laptop via a USB connection. It is similar to an input device. Working with these switches is quite comfortable and convenient as they are available in myriad versions like double, single, and even triple switches. 

USB foot switches are easy to program by the consumer by setting small switches within the main switch. These switches are compatible with common operating systems such as Linux and Windows. They also work well on Mac OS. However, for Mac, you will need a proper PC emulator for executing the primary configuration of the switch. USB foot switches are mainly used to capture images and are extensively used in call centres and police control rooms. 

  • Heavy-Duty Footswitches

It is evident from the name of these footswitches that they need to take a lot of pressure and are mainly used in heavy-duty industrial plants. The design and purpose of these switches are to give users better and faster results with low production downtime. These switches are oil-tight and dust-proof. They are designed in a manner so that they can open and close any kind of circuit, even when the circuit might be having no guard, is being operated by a front treadle, or having a two-position spring return. 

The use of these footswitches is seen in applications such as when operating heavy-duty machinery, industrial environments, medical machines, industrial machines and related apparatuses, production lines, and so on. 

  • Multi-pedal Footswitch

Just as the name suggests, a multi-pedal footswitch can have two, three, or even up to four pedals. A multi-pedal footswitch is usually made of cast aluminium and the main purpose behind designing this footswitch is for protecting the device it is attached to and providing an accurate point of operation for machines. Depending on the plastic or metal base selection, the multi-pedal footswitches can come in different contact configurations. 

Also Read: Features And Advantages Of Using Electronic Soft Starters For A Motor Starting

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of pedal switches

Footswitches come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let us take a look at a few of them.

Advantages of Footswitches

Footswitches are used because there are some distinct advantages and some of the most important ones include:

  • As both hands remain free with footswitches, multitasking becomes simpler and more convenient for the users.
  • It is possible to save space by using these switches as they are near the foot.
  • Generally made of PVC, foot switches are quite strong, durable, and sturdy. 
  • As these switches are operated by foot, chances of contamination are lesser as it doesn’t pass from one hand to the other, hence making these switches much more hygienic to use. 
  • Operating these switches are comparatively easier and simpler as you just need to press a footswitch down with your foot for starting it or turning it off. 
  • These switches can be used in all kinds of environments and situations without any concerns for safety and security. 
  • These switches come with high stability along with small pedal heights. 

Disadvantages of footswitches

Along with the above-mentioned advantages, there are some disadvantages of footswitches as well, and some of the most common ones include:

  • Many people find operating switches by hand convenient and they find footswitches to be uncomfortable and difficult to operate. 
  • Footswitches are quite big and chunky when compared to switches of any other variety.
  • While operating with a foot, there are chances that the switch might slip. 
  • Footswitches are way more expensive when compared to other regular switches. 
  • You must make sure that unintentional triggering does not take place since these switches are placed near the feet. 
  • Though these switches can be used in all kinds of climatic conditions, you have to keep them away from direct water contact. 
  • Make sure that you use a stabilising plate if you want to connect quite a few of the footswitches. 

Also Read: Common Electrical Enclosure Types and Practical Uses

Find the best quality footswitches at the Schneider Electric store

Now that you know about the different kinds of footswitches and what they are used for, you must know the proper places from where you can purchase good quality footswitches in India. There are many manufacturers and stores in India that sell footswitches, but the Schneider Electric store is one of the leading sellers of high-quality footswitches of different varieties. 

Visit the Schneider Electric eshop to take a look at the footswitches available and choose the one which matches your requirements in the best way. All the footswitches offered at Schneider Electric come with a manual so that you can learn to operate the device if you are new to it.
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