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What are relays and why are they so important?

The indispensable components in all kinds of electronic equipment

Mar. 03, 2022

Relays are electronic or electromagnetic switches that are effective in both complex and simple circuits. They can be used in the place of other forms of switches, or they can be specifically designed based on factors such as required amperage.

Relays are not limited to transforming single inputs into single outputs at single points in the circuit. In other applications, a single relay can activate multiple circuits, allowing one input to initiate many other effects. Similarly, relays can be used in combination with one another to perform Boolean logic functions that, while possible to enact using other components, may be more cost-effective when implemented using relays. What’s more, specific relays can perform more advanced functions than other electronic components. Time-delay relays, to name just one category, allow systems to run only for a set period of time or to start only after a set period of time. This introduces more sophisticated possibilities for constructing electronic systems.


Even when an application doesn’t specifically require a relay, using one can prove beneficial. Relays can reduce the need for high-amperage wiring and switches, which are expensive and take up space. Therefore, switching to relays in your electronic systems can reduce the size or weight of a casing, for instance, or allow manufacturers to fit more functionality into space of the same size.

Types of relays

  • Time-delay relays: they are useful in any situation that requires components to be powered for a set length of time, or when the component must power on or off after a specific delay. These relays have time-delay functionality built in, making them desirable for a range of time-based applications.

  • Sequential relays:  they can be used to power multiple components in turn, typically in a set order. A common application for this type of relay involves powering multiple systems or sets of lights one after another, such as in runway lights or power supply sequencing.

  • Automotive relays: they have almost unlimited uses in automotive applications, and these applications encompass many of the relay types discussed. Many automotive relays allow manufacturers to implement advanced safety features and modern electrical conveniences. To name just a few examples of relays to power the following systems in standard cars or trucks: gas valves, headlights, windshield wipers, interior lighting, alarm systems, warning systems as used for weight limits, seatbelt usage, or hazard-sensing.

Because relays are an integral part of circuit design, it is essential to source high-quality relays of the type and size necessary for your application. Nexum offers a wide range of relays for serial production from renowned manufacturers: NF Forward, Churod, i-Autoc, Bright TOWARD. To see our offer, click here. We also specialize in providing custom solutions to address your individual concerns. If you would like to learn more about our solutions for serial production, contact our product specialist.


Aleksandra Memon

Power Electronics | PCB Relays & SSR | PCB Connectivity

T: +386 41 681 876


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