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Relays & Sockets

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Relays & Sockets

What are relays?

A relay is an electromagnetic switch operated by a relatively small electric current that can turn on or off a much larger electric current. The heart of a relay is an electromagnet (a coil of wire that becomes a temporary magnet when electricity flows through it). You can think of a relay as a kind of electric lever: switch it on with a tiny current and it switches on ("leverages") another appliance using a much bigger current. Why is that useful? As the name suggests, many sensors are incredibly sensitive pieces of electronic equipment and produce only small electric currents. But often we need them to drive bigger pieces of apparatus that use bigger currents. Relays bridge the gap, making it possible for small currents to activate larger ones. That means relays can work either as switches (turning things on and off) or as amplifiers (converting small currents into larger ones).

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