What is a momentary push button switch?  

A momentary push button switch is designed to form a connection only when pressed and break the connection as soon as it is released. This switch type excels in applications requiring brief and intermittent user interaction. Optimize your device’s responsiveness and control precision with a switch that ensures active engagement only during direct user input, perfect for quick and efficient operations.  


woman pressing a car park ticket machine

photo of a patient having an MRI scan

What is a latching push button?  

A latching push button switch is engineered to retain its current state after being activated. Once pressed, it locks into position—either “on” or “off”—and requires another press to toggle its state. This mechanism allows it to maintain its status without continuous user intervention, providing a stable and persistent switch functionality in various control environments.   


Understanding the differences: Momentary vs Latching push button switches 

The choice between a momentary and a latching push button switch largely depends on the functionality required in the circuit and the expected user interaction with the switch.  

The comprehensive table below details a side-by-side comparison of Momentary versus Latching push button switches. Discover key insights into their functionality, applications, and advantages to seamlessly integrate into your systems.  

Whether you’re upgrading existing configurations or spearheading new innovations, this guide is designed to enhance your decision-making process, ensuring you select the perfect switch that aligns precisely with your project’s demands

To sum up, here’s a table comparing momentary and latching switches: 

Momentary push button switchesLatching push button switches
DefinitionOnly active when the button is pressed; returns to its default state once released. Remains in its last state after being pressed, until pressed again. 
Circuit TypeNormally open or normally closed Normally open or normally closed 
BehaviorSpring-loaded; returns to initial position automatically. Maintains its position until toggled again. 
Typical applicationsDoorbells, keyboards, intercoms, household appliances. Lighting switches, safety alarms, power controls. 
Installation complexitySimple, as it only requires connecting two endpoints. More complex due to the need to manage state retention. 
MaintenanceLow maintenance; less likely to malfunction due to fewer moving parts. Higher maintenance due to mechanical complexity. 
DurabilityHigher due to less mechanical stress. Lower due to constant mechanical engagement. 
CostGenerally cheaper due to simpler design. More expensive due to additional mechanical components. 
Switching modeMomentary contact Continuous (or maintained) contact 
AdvantagesSimple design 
Less prone to damage 
Does not require continuous pressure 
Convenient for toggling power state 
DisadvantagesRequires continuous pressure for operation More prone to wear and tear 
Electrical specificationsVaries widely based on design and manufacturer. Varies widely based on design and manufacturer. 
Ideal for UseApplications requiring short, transient inputs. Applications where a switch must maintain state without continuous user intervention. 
Example of UseA keyboard key which must be held down for input. A light switch that turns on/off with each press. 

photo of a doctor controlling a medical machine by remote control

How to choose between a momentary and a latching push button switch for a specific application? 

Momentary switches are best for short-duration tasks such as in keyboards or medical alerts, functioning only when pressed. In contrast, latching switches are suitable for applications requiring a persistent state, like room lighting or security systems, maintaining their position until pressed again.  

Utilize the appropriate switch type to enhance functionality and reliability in industrial setups, consumer electronics, or automotive systems, ensuring efficiency and user safety. 

Consider the environment, frequency of use, and whether the switch needs to provide constant or momentary feedback for optimal operation. 

APEM offers a wide range of push button switches with latching or momentary functions:  

photo of the APEM IP latching product

IP-latching illuminated or non-illuminated latching action pushbuttons for harsh environments 

photo of the APEM AV 16 latching product

AV – 16 – latching anti-vandal or security models. 

photo of the APEM IZ metal latching product

IZ – metal – latching, a rear mounted pushbutton, available with a polyamide or a metal case 

photo of the APEM IP momentary product

IP – momentary, illuminated or non-illuminated momentary action pushbuttons for harsh environments, sealed to IP67 

photo of the APEM IQ momentary product

IQ – momentary sealed pushbutton switches featuring snap-in mounting for easier and faster installation 

photo of the APEM AV 22 mushroom head product

AV – 22 – mushroom head available with momentary combining NC+NO functions 

The experts at APEM can guide you in choosing the most suitable push button switch for your project.