Foot Switch Selection Guide
Foot switches can be used to turn electrical equipment on and off with the foot, freeing the hands to perform other operations or providing ergonomic improvement to a workstation. Foot switch and foot pedal applications often require specific electrical ratings, enclosures, pedal actions, cables, and other variations. When you're ready to order, click on our products home page. We also offer customization for manufacturers — contact us today with your specifications.
Choose the Foot Switch That’s Right for Your Application
- Size and Shape — Large or Small
- Foot Switch Pedal Action — Momentary or Maintained
- Proper Electrical Rating — Current, Voltage, Horsepower
- Pre-Wired or Do-It-Yourself Cabling
- Enclosure Rating — Indoor, Outdoor, Hosedown, Etc.
- Single or Multiple Pedal
- Guard or No Guard
- Appearance and Color
Safety and Selection WARNING: Before selecting or using any foot switch, read the foot switch safety warning. Only the user can be aware of all conditions and factors present during the installation, operation, and maintenance of a foot switch and the surrounding work area. Therefore, only the user can determine which foot switch(es) and which point-of-operation safeguards are required for a particular application or work station. Review OSHA and other regulations before selecting or installing any foot switch. Safety options can include guards to protect against accidental activation, anti-trip safety latches (G-Series only), enclosures ratings, and front access gates.
The shape (form factor) and function required by a foot switch pedal application will help determine which model will be needed (in addition to electrical requirements). Some considerations include size, weight, material, shape, enclosure rating, guarding options, and other factors.
Note: Click here for details about TIG Welding Foot Pedal Controls for TIG remote amperage control.
Foot Switch Pedal Action
There are two main types of pedal action: momentary and maintained.
1) Momentary Action: Press and hold to turn on, release to turn off (like a car horn). The user must continue to hold the pedal down to keep it on. As soon as the user lifts his or her foot, the unit will turn off. This is the most common type of foot switch pedal action.
2) Maintained Action: Press pedal once to turn on, press again to turn off (like a light switch). The foot switch will stay on and the user can remove his or her foot from the pedal until the user presses the pedal again to turn it off. Examples include: G-Series -MA models (press down on pedal to turn it on, then press forward a latch inside the hood to return the pedal back to the off position); S420-Series models (press opposite ends of the pedal to toggle it on and off); and F300-Series models (has push on / push off maintained action, like a ball-point pen).Additionally, the Anti-Trip Safety Latch is available on the G-Series models. For this action, you have to press forward a latch inside the guard before you can press down on the pedal.
Electrical Circuitry and Contacts
Choosing the proper current and voltage rating for a foot switch application will depend on the electrical circuit of the equipment that the foot switch is attached to. The amount of electrical current that will flow through the circuit will determine the amperage rating required for the foot switch. The voltage and horsepower ratings (if applicable) also must be selected appropriately for the application. Consult a certified electrician with any questions to determine the amperage, voltage, grounding, and power requirements for your application. Follow all local and national electrical safety regulations.
Typically, foot switches contain SPDT contacts that are wired "normally open." That is, the switch is open, or "off," when not in use, and not activated until pressed. However, other circuit variations are also available. S-Series, B-Series, and F-Series foot switches are often shipped with cables attached (depending on the model). G-Series foot switches, on the other hand, are not typically shipped with cables, and can have numerous different switch circuit options (see chart below for details).
Circuit Diagrams and Images
Many SSC Controls foot switches come with cables already attached. Two of the most common cable examples are listed below: cables with a piggyback plug, and cables with leads. Each of these cable configurations can be included on the S-Series, B-Series, and F-Series foot switch product lines. The circuits below are shown in the "off" or at-rest position, with the pedal fully up.Danger: Disconnect input power before performing any installation or maintenance. Only a qualified electrician should install any foot switch, including proper grounding and installation per local and national electrical codes.
|Examples||Model||Switch Circuit||Notes and Wiring Diagrams|
|Models with Piggyback Plug — Comes pre-wired normally open (in "off" position until pressed).||
|Models with Leads — Comes pre-wired normally open (in "off" position until pressed).||
Foot Switch Wiring Diagram
G-Series heavy-duty foot switches (see below for wiring diagrams) can include from one to three switches, and up to four independent SPDT circuits. They do not come with cables. The user installs the appropriate cable and strain relief to the switch. G500 models have one switch, G502 models have two switches, and G503 models have three switches. For models with two or more switches (G502, G503, or G504), both switches can be independently adjusted, and can be set so one switch goes off before the other, or at the same time. If both switches are set to go off at the same time in the G502, the unit will have DPDT circuitry. Below are examples of the circuitry of different G-Series foot switches. The circuits below are shown in the "off" or at-rest position, with the pedal fully up.
|Examples (G-Series)||Model Examples of G-Series Foot Switches||Switch Circuit (shown in "off" position)||Inside Image|
- All foot switches should be properly grounded per local and national electrical codes.
- Two-stage models (models ending in "-2S", such as G502-MO-2S) have an additional spring mechanism that provides an extra force in between the activation of each switch. The user will feel the additional force after activating the first switch when pressing halfway down on the pedal; the user can then either hold at that position or continue pressing the pedal down to activate the second switch.
- G-Series foot switches are available with other options, such as the Front Gate (-GT models), the Anti-Trip Safety Latch (-AT), and Maintained Action (-MA). However, the switch circuitry shown above stays the same for these options.
Foot Switch Wiring and Installation (For One SPDT Circuit Wired Normally Open)
Warning: Disconnect input power before installing or servicing any foot switch. Please review the Foot Switch Safety and Selection WARNING before selecting, installing, servicing, or using any foot switch. These installation instructions are general guidelines, and each application may be different. The buyer (user) is responsible for proper foot switch purchase, installation, safety, and application.
Foot Switches that come with the piggyback plug (3-pronged NEMA 5-15 series P/R):
- These models typically come pre-wired in the "normally open" (or off) position, so electricity is not supplied to the device until the pedal is pressed.
- Simply insert the plug into any standard 3-pronged North American wall outlet, and then plug your device into the back end of the foot switch's piggyback plug.
- When you press on the foot switch, the device will turn on.
Foot Switches that come with cable that have leads (wires) on the end of the cable:
- Warning: Turn off all power to the device before performing any installation or maintenance work.
- You will have to attach the wires on the end of the foot switch cable directly to your device with these models.
- Most foot switches are typically wired "normally open," meaning the switch is off until you press on the pedal.
- The switch is wired into one side of the electrical circuit (normally the "hot" side, if applicable).
- The function of the switch is simply to close the line on one side of the circuit, so once the pedal is pressed (for "normally open" circuits), the current will flow to the device.
- The white and black lead colors on the foot switch cable have no relation to household wiring colors.
- The foot switch wiring in effect become one wire leading to the device you are attaching it to once the switch is closed.
- The green ground lead must be connected to a properly-connected ground location per applicable electrical codes.
- We recommend you contact a certified electrician with any questions about wiring a foot switch, or to hire an electrician to perform your installation if you are not qualified.
- Follow all applicable electrical codes and safety practices.
Foot Switches that come with no wiring or cable:
- Similar as for foot switches supplied with cable and leads (see above), but you will have to attach the cable to the switch terminals and ground location inside the foot switch, as well as ensure proper strain relief of the cable.
In addition to electrical ratings and the size or shape of the foot switch, the enclosure rating is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a foot switch for a particular application. Foot switches typically require one of the following enclosure ratings (for non-hazardous locations), as defined by UL, CSA, and NEMA (see also www.ssccontrols.com/enclosures):
- Type 1 Enclosure Rating — For indoor use only. Protects against accidental contact with live parts. All SSC Control foot switches have at least this rating.
- Type 2, 4, and 13 Enclosure Rating — Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use when properly connected. Offers protection from water (rain, splashing water, hose-directed water, ice, and snow), dust, and oil. Can be used in hose-down environments. Often called drip-tight, dust-tight, water-tight, and oil-tight. The SSC Controls G-Series foot switches have this rating.
Additional References and Safety Warnings
- SSC Controls -- Glossary
- SSC Controls -- Foot Switch Safety Warning
- Machine guarding of presses (OSHA)
- Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA)
- National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
- Switch circuitry and switches from Wikipedia
- General resource about electric circuits from allaboutcircuits.com
- General resource about home electrical systems
- General discussion of common circuit concepts
- More about switch contacts
Cable and Connectors
Footswitches can be shipped with a variety of cable options (see examples below), connectors, and plugs. Modifications for OEM applications (anything that is not a standard SSC product, as listed on the product pages) typically require a 100 unit minimum. For information about special OEM modifications, please contact us by phone at 1-440-205-1600 or by email.
|Cable with Leads: User can connect these wires as required. Comes in 10, 15, or 20 amp versions. Available on many standard SSC foot switch product lines.|
|Cable with Series Tap Plug (also called "piggyback"): Plugs into any standard US 120V electrical outlet with 3 prongs (NEMA 5-15 P/R). The user can connect any 120V electrical device into the back end of the plug. Comes in 10- or 15-amp versions. Available on many standard SSC foot switch product lines.|
|Cable with terminated leads: Cables can be terminated to your specifications. For custom OEM applications only.|
|Cable with plugs: Custom plugs can be added to fit OEM equipment applications. For custom OEM applications only.|
|Cable with 1/4" phone plugs: Ideal for low-voltage control applications such as for pottery wheels, speed control, and other applications. For custom OEM applications only.|
|Cable with RJ-45 plugs: For telecom and computer applications. For custom OEM applications only.|