Dual in-line package (DIP) switches are electronic packages that consist of a series of tiny switches. DIP switches are used to configure computers and peripherals such as circuit boards and modems. Actuator choices for DIP switches include slide actuators, rocker actuators, and side actuated levers (piano). A slide actuator configuration can have raised or recessed slides. A rocker actuator configuration can have raised or recessed rockers. A side actuated lever configuration is typically called piano style, the "keys" are pressed down to actuate. The number of positions available is equivalent to the number of actuators on the DIP switch.
DIP switches can be normally open, normally closed, or three stage. A normally open (NO) switch has contacts that are open or disconnected in their unactuated (normal) position. A normally closed (NC) switch has contacts that are closed or connected in their unactuated (normal) position. A three stage switch has three positions (e.g. ON - OFF - ON). Pole and throw configurations for DIP switches can be single pole single throw (SPST), single pole double throw (SPDT), double pole single throw (DPST), or double pole double throw (DPDT). SPST is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of a single conductor in a single branch circuit. This switch typically has two terminals. It is commonly referred to as a "Single-Pole" Switch. SPDT is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of a single conductor with either of two other single conductors. This switch typically has 3 terminals, and is commonly used in pairs and called a "Three-Way" switch. DPST is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of two circuit conductors in a single branch circuit. This switch typically has four terminals. DPDT is a switch that makes or breaks the connection of two conductors to two separate circuits. This switch typically has six terminals and is available in both momentary and maintained contact versions. Other types have more than 2 poles, such as switches designed to split loads into separate circuits (e.g., headlamp switch).
Important electrical switch specifications to consider when searching for DIP switches include maximum current rating, maximum AC voltage rating, maximum DC voltage rating, and maximum power rating. Choices for terminal types on DIP switches include quick connect or blade, surface mount technology, straight PC pins, right angle PC pins, and side PC pins. Common features for DIP switches include imprinted markings, tape and reel packaging, CE certification, CSA certification, UL listed, dustproof, and weather resistant or waterproof. An important environmental parameter to consider is the operating temperature.