How do I properly choose between a basic switch and a sensor?


How do I properly choose between a basic switch and a sensor?



Basic switches and sensors are both used for the detection of an object (workpiece). A basic switch has a simple structure that helps to save energy and directly opens and closes both DC and AC circuits by the contacts. Its snap-action mechanism creates a click feeling that is required for some devices (e.g. computer mouse).



The typical applications for basic switches and sensors are described below to help select them for detection purposes.

Basic switches should be used:

  • As limit switches of a facility or equipment (under an environment susceptible to noise, static electrical charge, light, dust, etc.)
  • For detection applications with less power consumption
  • For applications to cut off (interlock) the main power supply
    *Please note that no forced separation mechanism is provided.
  • To detect an object in contact
  • For devices that require a click feeling (e.g. computer mouse, joystick)

Sensors should be used:

  • To detect an object (workpiece) while not coming into contact with it
  • To avoid constraints of basic switches such as electrical and mechanical life (in applications with very frequent or very infrequent detection usage)
  • For applications requiring high-speed response (e.g. high-speed rotating gear detection)
  • For applications requiring accurate positioning


Quick tips

The following table shows the differences between Photomicrosensors and basic switches as a reference to select a suitable product for your application. Note that the contents of the table are not necessarily shared by every model. Refer to the product’s datasheet for detail specifications.

Product category

Switches Basic Switches


Selection, Characteristics

Related keywords

Basic Switch
DC / AC Switching
Snap-Action Strucure
Cut off Circuit
Click Feeling
Long Life
Energy Saving


Please visit the link below to see this product category on the Digi-Key website
Switches | DigiKey Electronics

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How do I properly choose between a basic switch and a sensor? | FAQ | OMRON Device & Module Solutions - Americas