Relays

A relay is an electrically operated switch. Many relays use an electromagnet to mechanically operate a switch, but other operating principles are also used, such as solid-state relays. Relays are used where it is necessary to control a circuit by a low-power signal (with complete electrical isolation between control and controlled circuits), or where several circuits must be controlled by one signal.

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Detailed Description for Relays

A relay is an electrically operated switch. Many relays use an electromagnet to mechanically operate a switch, but other operating principles are also used, such as solid-state relays. Relays are used where it is necessary to control a circuit by a low-power signal (with complete electrical isolation between control and controlled circuits), or where several circuits must be controlled by one signal.

Relays are used wherever it is necessary to control a high power or high voltage circuit with a low power circuit, especially when galvanic isolation is desirable. The first application of relays was in long telegraph lines, where the weak signal received at an intermediate station could control a contact, regenerating the signal for further transmission. High-voltage or high-current devices can be controlled with small, low voltage wiring and pilots switches. Operators can be isolated from the high voltage circuit. Low power devices such as microprocessors can drive relays to control electrical loads beyond their direct drive capability. In an automobile, a starter relay allows the high current of the cranking motor to be controlled with small wiring and contacts in the ignition key.

The use of relays for the logical control of complex switching systems like telephone exchanges was studied by Claude Shannon, who formalized the application of Boolean algebra to relay circuit design in A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. Relays can perform the basic operations of Boolean combinatorial logic. For example, the Boolean AND function is realised by connecting normally open relay contacts in series, the OR function by connecting normally open contacts in parallel. Inversion of a logical input can be done with a normally closed contact. Relays were used for control of automated systems for machine tools and production lines. The Ladder programming language is often used for designing relay logic networks.

 

Protective relays:

For protection of electrical apparatus and transmission lines, electromechanical relays with accurate operating characteristics were used to detect overload, short-circuits, and other faults. While many such relays remain in use, digital devices now provide equivalent protective functions.

 

 


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