General Help

If used correctly a reed relay is a superbly reliable device. The switch contacts are hermetically sealed and do not suffer from oxidization in the same way as an open electro-mechanical relay.

Your technical Reed Relay questions answered

Our experts here at Pickering have put together some information for frequently asked questions we receive in order to help you get the most out of our relays.

If you follow the tips below, it will help you to achieve a reliable design with a long life from our products.

If you still require any technical help after reading this page you can contact us. Our technical experts will be able to assist you in any queries you may have regarding our relays.

What is a Pickering Reed Relay?

Watch this 3 minute video to learn what a Reed Relay is and how Pickering Electronics manufacture them.

Life Expectancy

In typical applications, for example, switching 10 volts at 10 mA, the life of dry reed relays will be in excess of 100 million operations. We can help you to choose the best relay for your application.

Calculate how many operations you require from the relay. If it is operated once a second, 24 hours a day, it is worth noting that there are about 31.5 million seconds in a year. The most common reliability problems are caused by abusive loads. - Read On!

Capacitive Loads

When capacitive loads are switched, there is a danger that the initial surge current will exceed the rating of the switch, thereby shortening the life of the relay.

To prevent this, a surge limiting device, the most simple being a resistor, should be used. Long cable runs should also be considered, they can sometimes have a surprisingly high capacitance.

Inductive Loads

Arcing can occur when a reed switch is used to break a current to an inductive load. The back EMF can cause contact damage and should be eliminated by the use of an RC snubber, varistor or in the case of a DC load, a diode. Contact our technical department for further details.

Lamp Loads

A tungsten filament lamp may have an inrush of up to 10 times its steady state current. Surge current should be limited to the rating of the relay with a resistor. This will also increase the life of the lamp.

Coil Data

The standard must 'operate' and & 'must release' voltages of Pickering relays at 20 degrees Centigrade are 75 percent and 10 percent of the nominal coil voltage, that is 3.75 volts and 0.5 volts for a 5 volt relay.

The copper coil wire has a positive temperature coefficient of approximately 0.4 percent per degree Centigrade. If the temperature increases by 50 degrees Centigrade, the voltage required to operate the relay will increase by around 20 percent.

The operate voltage is also effected by the extraneous magnetic fields from adjacent relays. Most Pickering relays feature an internal mu-metal magnetic screen to eliminate this problem.

Operate Times

The typical operate time of a dry reed relay is between 250 microseconds and 1 millisecond, depending on switch type.

The Form A (energize to make) types in the small Single-in-Line relays are the fastest, typically 250 microseconds.

The release time is typically one half of the operate time.


For more specific information, please contact us and ask to speak to our technical department.

Pickering's useful technical guides

reed relaymate

Practical book about reed relays aimed at engineers. Understand relay specifications & more.

Concise Tech Guide

A guide to magnetic interaction, temperature effects, contact abuse, ‘Hot’ versus ‘Cold' switching and more.

Glossary of Terms

Definitions of commonly used engineering terms relating to reed relay technology.