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Mains switch can be controlled from the Internet

01 September, 1999

Mains switch can be controlled from the Internet

If you need to avoid using conventional mains switching in your equipment, you might be interested in a module from Arcoelectric that uses fibre optic technology to perform switching operations. The company suggests that its Optomax 4410 module can be used instead of mains wiring to minimise electromagnetic interference or to allow remote, fieldbus-controlled switching of equipment.

The system has two main components: a switch which, when pressed, interrupts the flow of light in a fibre optic cable; and a tiny module incorporating a light source and sensor. The switch - called an Opto-button - is connected to the module by a low-cost fibre optic loop. The light source injects visible light into the fibre, while the sensor detects the on/off operation of the button by measuring the light received back down the fibre. Whenever the button is pressed and a signal is sensed, the module activates a mains power relay in the connected equipment.

The module is powered directly from the AC mains and is designed to be built into equipment power supplies. It has two isolated, low voltage inputs for remote control applications. One input can be controlled by the connected equipment to save energy through self-initiated switching. The second input can be connected to networks, fieldbuses, sensors, or even modems. It is thus possible to switch equipment via the Internet or to limit mains switching to password-holders.

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