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The Basics of Control Relays 

by Sneha Shukla

The nature of control relays provides a clear-cut example of how fascinating the electronics industry can be. At the same time, they can also be an illustration of how complex it is. Given the complexity of the processes in which control relays can be used, regardless of if someone is a novice or not – as even seasoned professionals working with electronics daily commonly find there’s still something new to learn – the reality is learning about them can feel a little challenging to anyone. This said, having a knowledge of their basics can certainly be an excellent cornerstone on which to build a deeper knowledge, so let’s go through now the basics of control relays. 

Defining a Control Relay 

A control relay (commonly known in the shorter form as a ‘relay’) is an electromagnetic switch. When in use, a control relay allows for electrical current to proceed via a coil – this coil is in its longer term is called a conducting coil – which can close or open a switch thereafter. Thus, whenever the on and off switch is actioned the process can be controlled.

The Origins of the Relay

Obtaining a solid knowledge of relays first requires understanding a little about their history. After all, it’s held relays have been around for over two hundred years! As a result of this, it can be little surprise to know they have found wide use in a variety of goods throughout the years. This said, although gaining a deeper understanding of the history of relays can always be a wise move, it’s ultimately possible to learn by ‘working backwards’. This is done by first learning to recognise where in today’s world relays find utilisation, and accordingly why they become commonplace in their use in particular areas.

In What Ways Are Control Relays Used? 

The range of instances in which a control relay, like those from RS Components, are very varied. They are in operation in a number of items commonly found across the home and workplaces. This includes general goods like heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) appliances and fridges in the home, as well as specialist machinery as is found in power plants and power supply processes. 


As discussed at the beginning, building a knowledge surrounding control relays can feel a little intimidating at the start. Fortunately, once you’ve got a good grasp of their basic fundamentals, there’s a strong scope on which to expand knowledge further. This begins with understanding what defines a control relay, then their history, and ultimately the many ways in which control relays are utilised each day across homes and businesses. Once this baseline of knowledge is in-hand, it’s possible to build upon it with real confidence. 

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