Dualtec: Control Panel 101 – Control Components

Electrical Control Panel 101

We thought it would be useful for both our current customers as well as prospective ones to know how we define what actually makes up a control panel. In this set of articles we aim to detail the key points needed to understand how control panels work, so keep checking in with us to make sure not to miss the next instalment.

Control Components for Control Panels

Components within electrical control panels that logically control electricity flow are predictably known as ‘control’ components. There are number of different types, installed in such a way so that the sequence of events that define how a particular control panel functions can be easily controlled. Manual control components are simple to understand, functioning just like a light switch at home. Electronically actuated control components vary in complexity but the most common are timer relays and control relays.

What is a Control Relay or CR?

Relays are the simplest form of control component, the most common of which is a ‘normally open’, one-pole, single-throw (1PST) relay. The easiest comparison of this is a light switch, only rather than being manually turned on and off, the relay actuated the switch electronically through magnetism.

The basic components of such are: an electro magnet or coil, a spring-loaded electrical contact on a pivot and a stationary electrical contact. In its off position a ‘normally open’ relay doesn’t have any electricity running to it, so the spring keeps the contact points apart. In the on position, current is run through the relay and into the coil/electromagnet whose strength is greater than the tension in the spring, this pulls the contact points together and completing the circuit.

Control relays are either ‘normally open’ or ‘normally closed’ depending on what function the control panel requires the relay to have.

What is a Timing Relay or TR?

A timing relay basically does the same job as a control relay, except they have built in timers to control when their contacts meet (completing the circuit) or separate (break their circuit) depending whether they are normally open or not. There are a variety of different timer relays used in control panel design and manufacture, the most common of which are:

On Timer: Engages contacts when coil is electrified
Off Timer: Disengages contacts when coil is electrified
Interval Time: Controls the duration its contacts remain electrified
Repeat Cycle: Repeats the process of completing and breaking the circuit for a given amount of time. This could be synchronous (same amount of time on as off) or asynchronous (longer amount of time on than off or vice versa).

Control Panel Operator Devices

Next time we will go into the different operator devices that can be used in control panel design and manufacture. In the mean time, please feel free to read through the previous content on our blog and if you are company requiring control panel manufacture, then please don’t hesitate to contact us via our website.