What is Foot Switch : Working & Its Applications

A switch is an electrical component used in complex data-transmission equipment in telemechanics as well as in communications engineering. These are also used in solving control & programming problems within computer technology and also to connect different circuits within electric machines. These are available in various types based on requirements like a one-way or single-pole, two-way or double pole, light dimmer, bell push, foot switch, and many more. So this article discusses one of the most frequently used industrial switches the foot switch. These switches are normally used in lifts, conveyor systems, controlling the auxiliary motors on tool machines & other auxiliary foot-operated devices. These switches are available with a security lock to avoid accidental tripping.

What is Foot Switch?

A footswitch definition is a switch that is simply operated by someone’s foot by stepping on the actuator and sometimes this switch is also called a “stomp” switch or foot pedals. These switches are used for hands-free switching. Footswitches are available in different styles and shapes based on requirements. The foot switch symbol is shown below.

Foot Switch Symbol
Foot Switch Symbol

These switches are either momentary or latching. Momentary means, the switch must stay compressed to achieve its function like sewing machines whereas latching means the switch can be pressed one time, then the user can eliminate the force on the switch however the device will stay on until the switch is compressed once more.

Foot Switch Working Principle

The working principle of this switch is similar to an electric switch. This switch includes two contact points and the wires of this switch are simply connected to the circuit in a device.

When Normally Open (NO) contacts within the switch are not getting connected, then the circuit in the device is not connected, so the device will be turned OFF. Once this footswitch is compressed then two contacts will be closed so the electric circuit will be connected and the machine will be turned ON.

When Normally Closed (NC) contacts within the switch are closed, then the circuit in the device is connected until the switch is compressed so it breaks the circuit & the machine will be turned OFF.


Construction of Foot Switch

The foot switch or pedal switch is constructed with different parts as shown in the diagram.

Foot Switch Construction
Foot Switch Construction


A pedal in this switch is operated through the foot. These are available in different shapes, colors, and sizes based on the type of switch. The pedal in this switch has a spring action to press easily on foot.

Skid Proof Pads

The skid-proof pads in the switch are arranged at the bottom of the switch to give support to the entire switch from slipping. These pads are designed with non-skid materials like rubber material.


The foot switch guard covers are mainly used to give protection by avoiding damages occurred by external forces.

Connecting Terminals

Connecting terminals in foot switches are called modular blocks including an insulated frame that protects a minimum of two or above wires together.

Cable Inlet

The cable inlet in the switch allows the cable to connect with the paddle.

Cable Clamp

Cable clamps within the foot switch are clips or mechanical devices that give support to the cable.

Contact Blocks

A contact block is an essential connector simply used to make or break an electrical circuit. These are usually found in switches, circuit breakers, and relays.


The base is used to give support to the foot switch.


The working of the foot switch is similar to any other electric switch. This footswitch includes contact points and the switch wires are simply connected to the circuit of a device or load.

Once the pedal of the switch is not compressed with the foot, then NO (Normally Open) contacts in the switch are not closed; the electric circuit is not connected, so the load or the device is turned off. Similarly, once the footswitch is compressed by the foot, the contacts in the switch will be closed by connecting the electric circuit so the load or the device is turned ON.

Types of Foot Switches

There are different types of foot switches available in the market based on requirements which include the following. Here, each type of switch and its purpose are discussed below.

Foot Pedal Potentiometers

Sometimes, a foot pedal potentiometer is also called variable speed footswitches. This is similar to a typical footswitch or foot pedal but the main difference is, that the foot switch is operated by the foot of the user whereas the foot pedal potentiometer is used to control the device’s speed which is connected to it. A foot pedal switch controls the device by turning ON and OFF.

Pedal Potentiometers
Pedal Potentiometers

Foot pedal potentiometers are frequently used in combination with a variable speed motor. Once the amount of force applied on the foot pedal will cause the electric motor to run faster or slower which will define the device or machine speed in use. Foot pedal potentiometers are used for controlling the speed of sewing machines, cutting machines, shearing machines, etc.

Foot Switch Bellows

Footswitch bellows are also called air actuator that permits you to control electrical circuits securely from a distance in dangerous environments. Once you push down on top of the bellows through your foot, then air moves down the tubing toward the switch element, where it increases a bellows within this switch to make active the electrical connections.

Foot Switch Bellows
Foot Switch Bellows

These switches are made with PVC (flexible polyvinyl chloride), sturdy to endure the scratches & knocks that appear with daily use.

When the switch & all electrical connections can be securely located outside of the hazardous area, then it is perfect for working within damp locations wherever electrical switching would be a danger.
In locations where vapors, powders, or explosive gases are there, then this switch is a reliable and safe component. So, this foot bellows switch is normally found in labs, garages & battery charging rooms.

USB Foot Switches

USB feet switch or USB foot pedal is used through a USB connection with a computer like an additional input device. These switches provide a more convenient & comfortable method to work and these are available in different versions like a single, double otherwise triple.

USB Foot Switches
USB Foot Switches

These USB switches can be simply programmed through the consumer by setting tiny switches within the switch. These switches can be used with Apple Mac computers even though you will need the right of entry to a PC emulator to run on a Mac to execute any primary configuration of the switch. These switches are very compatible with Linux, Windows & Mac OS.

The applications of these switches mainly include, this switch is used to capture an image or take an X-ray and these are used in police control rooms or call centers.

Heavy Duty Footswitches

Heavy-duty switches are mainly designed to give you faster, and better with low production downtime. These are dust-proof and oil-tight and mainly designed to open & close in any circuits which are available in two position spring return, operated by front treadle with or with no guard.

Heavy Duty
Heavy Duty

These footswitches are used in different applications like industrial environments, operating heavy-duty machinery, and production lines and are also used in industrial machines, medical machines, and their apparatus.

Multi-pedal Footswitch

A foot switch that has two, three, or four pedals is known as a multi-pedal foot switch. This switch has cast aluminum construction with momentary action. This switch is mainly designed for proper point of operation on machines and for protecting devices. These multi-pedal switches are available in different contact configurations based on a metal and plastic base selection. The maximum electrical ratings of this switch can be determined by the application.

Multi Pedal
Multi Pedal

Foot Switch Wiring Diagram

The foot switch wiring diagram using a contactor is shown below. This wiring diagram can be done by using a foot switch, a contactor, and MCB as per the shown diagram below.

Foot Switch Wiring Diagram
Foot Switch Wiring Diagram

In the above circuit, the power wiring is very simple. MCBs downside two terminals are given as neutral and phase whereas, from MCB’s output, phase and neutrals are given to contactor’s power terminals. MCBs phase terminal is given to Foot switch’s common terminal. The NO terminal of the switch is given to the inside coil of the contactor. So now the connection of the foot switch wiring is done. Here, the load-like bulb is connected to the contactor’s output.

The working of this switch is; that once the MCB is turned ON and the foot switch is pressed, then the load which is connected to the contactor will be turned ON. If we pressed this switch for some time, the load will turn ON until the switch is released.

Foot Switch Application in Musical Instrument

Foot switches are an important part of the musical instrument. They are used to control various functions and play different sounds. Many foot switches have a momentary action, which means they only work when the foot is pressing down on them. There are also some that have a latching action, meaning they will stay pressed in until you tell them to release.

The most common use for foot switches is in electric guitars, where there is one for each pickup selector. The guitar player can easily change between pickups by using their feet to press down on the switch and then strumming or picking out some notes on their instrument. This lets them play with two or more different sounds at once without having to change guitars or mess around with plugging in and unplugging cables between songs.

In pianos and organs, there are often several pedals that control different aspects of the sound output like volume or sustain (or both). These pedals often have pads covering them so that they don’t get accidentally stepped on while someone is playing.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of foot switch include the following.

  • By using these switches, space can be saved.
  • Multitasking is possible by using two free hands.
  • If this switch is used by multiple users then there is a low risk of contamination.
  • These switches are more hygienic as compared to hands-controlled switches because they are not passed from one person to others.
  • These switches are strong
  • Its operation is simple.
  • This switch has high stability including a small pedal height.
  • This switch can be used in any situation.

The disadvantages of foot switch include the following.

  • As compared to other switches, these switches are not small.
  • These switches are expensive.
  • It is not convenient to use by hand.
  • This switch should not slip while operating with a foot.
  • These switches should be protected from outsiders & water.
  • Unintentional triggering should not happen.
  • When connecting a number of these switches, a stabilizing plate should be utilized.

Other Applications

The applications of foot switch include the following.

  • Foot switches are mainly used for operating devices and machines in industries. These devices are simply activated by compressing this switch.
  • These are simply used to make or break circuits in any device.
  • These types of switches are frequently used in tattoo machines otherwise lathes.
  • These are applicable in different industries which include medical, health, beauty, Industrial processes, etc.
  • These switches operate different devices in industries like sewing machines, press iron machines, lipo suction devices, medical equipment, optical devices, controlling of dentist chairs, medical beds, machine controls in industries, stapling, packaging, cutting, and soldering machines.

Thus, this is all about an overview of a foot switch – construction, working, types with applications. This is an emergency stop device operated by foot on machines whenever operation by hand is not achievable if a dangerous condition arises. Most of these switches are inbuilt with an ergonomic protective shield. Here is a question for you, what is the rotary switch?