How to Choose the Right Type of Float Switch

Choose Float Switch Type

What is a Float Switch?

A float switch is a sensor used to monitor a circuit within a tank as the level of a liquid rises or falls.  Types of float switches vary, but their general purpose is to activate pump control panels and any alarms if needed. The device has proven to be one of the most effective and reliable technologies to monitor liquid levels, and today float switches are utilized in a variety of industrial processes that require the monitoring of liquid levels stored within various types of chambers and tanks.

Choosing Float Switch Type

What type of float switch is best suited for an application will largely depend on what type of tank is being used. The two main types of float switches are horizontal mounting and vertical mounting. Each design works to monitor liquid levels and each can be used to open and close circuits depending on the level of liquid in a tank. Vertical float switches are used if the float needs to be attached to either the top or bottom of a tank. If the top of a tank is closed or is inaccessible from floor to ceiling, then a side-mounted horizontal float switch will be necessary.

Vertical Float Switches

A vertical float switch consists of two parts—a stem and a magnetic float. Either a plastic or stainless steel float ball can be used and the switch can be mounted at either the top or bottom of a tank or chamber. Once attached, the stem is stationary and attaches to the top or bottom of a tank, with one or more reed switches hermetically sealed inside and wires going to the outside of the tank. When the float nears one of the reed switches, the magnetic force causes the switch to open or close. Because vertical switches can be mounted through the top or bottom of a container, they are especially ideal for situations where there is no side access to the tank.

Horizontal Float Switches

Horizontal liquid level float switches are used where access to the top and bottom of the tank are inaccessible. These float switches are good for applications that are mounted through the side of the tank with a hinged float attached to the fixed housing. As with a vertical switch, horizontal float switches rise and fall with the level of the liquid. They provide flexibility, economic choice, and can be used in conjunction with high level alarms or low level alarms. They can be mounted internally or externally to ensure exact placement without a high amount of difficulty. In either case, when the float nears the reed switch, it moves a magnet close to the switch and opens or closes the circuit.


Regardless of which type of switch you choose, if you need a float ball you can always rely on in any application, Arthur Harris has you covered. With over 130 years of experience, we’ve perfected the process of manufacturing high-quality stainless float balls. Feel free to contact us today with any questions you may have!

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