Continuing our discussion on flashlight switches. 

Last time we talked about mechanical switches, which are the simplest type of switch.  We’ll touch on electronic switches (e-switches) today.

The goal of any switch in a light is to break the circuit to turn it on and off.  Mechanical switches do this by physically breaking the path that the electricity flows through.

E-switches do it a little differently.  An e-switch isn’t placed in the circuit.  IT’s placed beside the circuit (That’s very simplified but works for our purposes). 

When the switch is pushed it sends a signal to the LED driver, like a key on a keyboard.  The computer on the driver interprets that signal as power on or change mode etc.

So what are the advantages of an E-switch?

  • They have way fewer moving parts so they last longer
  • Probably the biggest advantage is that they are much more compact than mechanical switches.  Space is always at a premium in flashlight design, especially when you get away from the basic tube design.
  • They cycle faster than mechanical as well so mode selection can be quicker.

Sounds great!  Why don’t more custom flashlight makers use them? 

They have some significant drawbacks as well.

  • Number 1 and, I think, the most significant is that an e-switch needs power to operate.  This is called parasitic drain.  Basically to operate there has to be a steady trickle of power going to the driver/switch in order for it to send signals.  A well designed system has very little parasitic drain.  BUT.

A poorly designed driver/switch will drain your battery over a fairly short time. 

  • They can be sensitive to interference by other things if they're not shielded correctly.
  • When they fail they're toast.  A mechanical switch can sometimes be revived by taking it apart and cleaning it.  Although that's generally not practical.

So which switch is best? 

Neither and both😂! 

I prefer mechanical switches for their simplicity but eventually I'll be forced by design choices to use some e-switches.

What's your preference for switching your light on?