A contactor is defined according to IEV ref 441-14-33 as a mechanical switching device with only one rest position, operated other than by hand, capable of switching on, conducting and breaking currents under normal circuit conditions including operational overload.
In common parlance, this usually refers to an electromechanical contactor where the operation of switching on and off is done by means of an electrically driven coil. Simply put, the contactor is essentially a switch for electrical power in the same way that a relay is a switch for electrical signals or small loads.
With electrification and higher voltages in systems, contactors capable of extinguishing the resulting arc are required to safely interrupt the current, even under load in an emergency. It is therefore important to have the right contactor for the purpose. Factors to consider when choosing a contactor are current, voltage, current direction, inductance, short-circuit current, etc. This is to ensure that the current is actually broken and does not lead to more catastrophic events such as fire or similar, read more about risks here. Please contact us for help in choosing a contactor for your system.
See our range of contactors and contacts here