What is the Difference between Latching and Momentary switches?

Latching switches and momentary switches operate in different ways and therefore suit different applications. What is the difference between latching and momentary switches?


Many of our switches come with both latching and momentary options, the difference between these two switch configurations is discussed below.

Latching switches

Latching switches are switched on by the user and then remain on until switched off again. They do not require continuous compression from the user.

Latching switches can be found in the home and are used for things like light switches, central heating switches or on stereos.

Our latching switches are used within different industries for tattoo machines, and spa operations.

Momentary switches

Momentary switches require continuous compression. They will switch on when the user compresses the switch and will remain on only for as long as there is pressure on the switch. Once the pressure is removed they will switch off. For example; a door buzzer or an electric drill.

Our momentary switches are used within the medical industry on the hand or foot control for hospital beds. The patient can move the bed to the desired position but they must keep their finger on the button for the bed to move.

We also provide momentary switches for “press to talk” applications. Operators of telephones use the switch to answer the phone and the line will remain open as long as the switch is pressed down.

Why choose latching or momentary

The application in question will determine which type of switch is best suited.

One of the main reasons for choosing a momentary switch will be for operator safety. If it is not safe to leave the device on then it is safer for an operator to have to compress the switch so that the device cannot be left unattended.  Momentary switches are used on heavy duty roller doors; the operator must old down the switch when the door is opening or closing, if there are any obstructions to the doorway, the operator can quickly stop the door from closing preventing an accident.

Latching switches are used for lower risk applications and where it would be highly inconvenient for the operator to have to manually apply pressure to keep the switch on. It would be highly inappropriate to have to stand at a light switch to keep it switched on so a latching switch is far more suitable.