The relay is a well known and widely used component. Applications range from classic panel built control systems to modern inrefaces between control microprocessors and their power circuits or any application where reliable galvanic separation is required between different circuits.
History of relay
The earliest electrical relays were developed in the 1830s, as people began to recognize that such switches could be extremely useful. Historically, electrical relays were often made with electromagnets, which continue to be used today, although for some applications solid state relays are preferred. They key difference between electromagnetic and solid state options is that electromagnetic relays have moving parts, and solid state relays do not.
Electromagnets also conserve more energy than their solid state counterparts do.
Usage of relay
One of the reasons an electrical relay is such a popular tool for electricians and engineers is that it can control electrical output which is higher than the electrical input it receives. In the example discussed above, if the ignition connected directly to the battery, heavy duty insulated wiring would be needed to connect the steering column to the battery, and the ignition switch would also need to be much more robust.
A variety of circuits can be connected to an electrical relays. Relays can be used as amplifiers for electrical energy, as in the car example, and they can also connect to things like alarm switches, activating when a circuit is broken to trigger an alarm.
Many electrical failsafe systems utilize electrical relays which turn on or off in response to things like a current overload, irregular current, and other issues which may arise. These electrical relays trip to shut the system down until the problem can be addressed.
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