Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A relay is a simple electromechanical switch made of an electromagnet and a set of contacts that opens and closes under the control of another electrical circuit. It was invented by Joseph Henry in 1835. Because a relay is able to control an output circuit of higher power than the input circuit, it can be considered to be, in a broad sense, a form of an electrical amplifier.

A simple electromagnetic relay is an adaptation of an electromagnet. It consists of a coil of wire surrounding a soft iron core, an iron yoke, which provides a low reluctance path for magnetic flux, a moveable iron armature, and a set, or sets, of contacts; two in the relay pictured. The armature is hinged to the yoke and mechanically linked to a moving contact or contacts. It is held in place by a spring so that when the relay is de-energised there is an air gap in the magnetic circuit.