30/50 vs 40/60 Pressure Switch [How to Choose the Right One for Your Application]

Pressure switches are common components in many pneumatic systems and HVAC equipment. They are used to control the operation of compressors, pumps, blowers, and other devices based on air or liquid pressure in the system. The two most popular pressure switch types are 30/50 and 40/60 models. But what is the difference between 30/50 vs 40/60 pressure switches?

In this article, we will compare 30/50 and 40/60 pressure switches, looking at their operating principles, key differences, pros and cons, and typical applications. We will also provide guidance on when to use each type of switch and tips for proper installation and maintenance. Read on to learn how to select the right pressure switch for your specific needs.

Here is an in-depth comparison table for 30/50 vs 40/60 pressure switches:

Feature30/50 Pressure Switch40/60 Pressure Switch
Cut-out Pressure30 PSI40 PSI
Cut-in Pressure50 PSI60 PSI
Differential20 PSI20 PSI
Typical Compressor SizeUp to 7.5 HP7.5 – 30 HP
Pressure Tolerance< 3%Up to 10%
Adjustable SettingsSometimesTypically No
Status IndicationsNoNo
DurabilitySteel housingSteel housing
ApplicationsSmall compressors, low pressure systems, tight tolerance controlLarger compressors, higher pressure systems, wider tolerance acceptable
InstallationThread ports, thread sealant, sensing line, wiring diagramThread ports, thread sealant, sensing line, wiring diagram
MaintenanceCheck pressures, clean ports, replace worn switchCheck pressures, clean ports, replace worn switch
Life ExpectancyAround 100k cyclesAround 100k cycles
ProsMatched to small compressors, tight pressure control, prevents short cyclingHandles higher pressures, prevents short cycling, cost-effective
ConsLimited to low pressures, lacks status indication, fixed differentialLimited adjustment, lower accuracy, lacks status indication

What is a Pressure Switch?

Before diving into the differences between 30/50 and 40/60 models, let’s take a step back and look at what pressure switches are and how they work.

How Does a Pressure Switch Work?

A pressure switch is a form of switch that operates based on sensing pressure changes in liquids or gases within a system. The switch is designed to open or close an electrical circuit when pressure rises above or falls below a set threshold.

Pressure switches contain a bellows or diaphragm that expands and contracts based on system pressure. The position of this bellows/diaphragm triggers an electrical switch to change state when a preset threshold is crossed. This allows the pressure switch to send a signal and control whatever device or system it is connected to.

Types of Pressure Switches

There are a few common types of pressure switches:

  • Mechanical pressure switches use levers and springs for their simple on/off control. They are very affordable but less accurate.
  • Electronic pressure switches use transducers and digital controls. They offer higher accuracy and more options but at a higher price.
  • Differential pressure switches respond to changes between two pressure points. They allow control based on differential pressure.
  • Vacuum pressure switches are activated by low pressure or vacuum condition.
  • 30/50 and 40/60 switches are common mechanical types optimized for air compressors.

Now that we have covered some pressure switch basics, let’s look at 30/50 and 40/60 models in more detail.

30/50 vs 40/60 Pressure Switch

30/50 and 40/60 are the names referring to the pressure settings on these two popular types of mechanical pressure switches designed for compressors. But what do the numbers mean?

30/50 Pressure Switch

  • The first number refers to the cut-out pressure – the high pressure at which the switch opens its contacts. For a 30/50 switch this is 30 PSI.
  • The second number refers to the cut-in pressure – the low pressure at which the switch closes its contacts again. For a 30/50 switch this is 50 PSI.

So in a 30/50 pressure switch, the contacts open at 30 PSI and close again at 50 PSI. This differential gap prevents short cycling and provides a 20 PSI differential.

40/60 Pressure Switch

A 40/60 pressure switch follows the same principle but with higher pressure settings:

  • Cut-out pressure of 40 PSI
  • Cut-in pressure of 60 PSI
  • Differential gap of 20 PSI

So the contacts open at 40 PSI and close at 60 PSI. The differential prevents short cycling just like in a 30/50 switch.

Key Differences

The main differences between 30/50 and 40/60 pressure switches are:

  • Pressure settings – 30/50 has lower pressure thresholds while 40/60 has higher settings.
  • Application sizing – Due to their lower pressure range, 30/50 switches are often used on smaller compressors. 40/60 switches are matched with larger compressor systems that require higher pressures.
  • Tolerance – 40/60 pressure switches may have up to 10% tolerance. 30/50 switches often have less than 3% tolerance.

Understanding these key differences allows selection of the proper switch for a given compressor application based on size and normal working pressure range.

When to Use Each Type

So when should you choose a 30/50 vs a 40/60 pressure switch for your system? Here are some guidelines:

  • 30/50 pressure switch – Best for small to medium-sized compressors up to about 7.5 HP output. Used for pressures up to 30 PSI cut-out. Better for lower pressure tolerance.
  • 40/60 pressure switch – Well-suited for larger compressor systems up to about 30 HP output. Handles higher pressures up to 40 PSI cut-out. Useful where wider 10% tolerance is acceptable.
  • Dual control switches – For variable speed drive (VSD) compressors, dual pressure control switches (e.g. 40/60 and 30/50) are often used together to provide both load/unload and start/stop control.

Considering compressor size and required pressure range is key when selecting between 30/50 vs 40/60 pressure switches. Consulting compressor specifications or local codes can also provide recommended settings.

Pros and Cons of 30/50 vs 40/60

Now that we understand the key differences between 30/50 and 40/60 pressure switches, let’s look at some of the main pros and cons of each type. This will further help illustrate when each switch is better suited for different applications.

Pros and Cons of 30/50


  • Lower cut-out of 30 PSI good for small to medium compressors
  • Less than 3% pressure tolerance rating provides more accuracy and precision in control
  • Resets at 50 PSI to prevent short cycling of compressor
  • Steel housing provides durability
  • Lower cost than electronic pressure switches


  • Limited to lower pressure applications below 30 PSI cut-out
  • Fixed differential of 20 PSI reduces flexibility compared to adjustable electronic switches
  • Mechanical switches can wear out over time and require replacement
  • No status indication lights like electronic switches

Pros and Cons of 40/60


  • Handles higher cut-out pressures up to 40 PSI matching larger compressors
  • Similar 20 PSI fixed differential prevents short cycling
  • Rugged steel housing for durability
  • Cost-effective mechanical switch solution
  • Up to 10% tolerance accommodates variability found in large systems


  • Limited to maximum cut-out pressure of 40 PSI
  • Not as accurate as 30/50 switch due to wider 10% pressure tolerance
  • Lacks visual status indication that electronic switches provide
  • Mechanical switches still wear over time with cycling
  • No flexibility in adjusting differential pressure range

When selecting a 30/50 or 40/60 pressure switch, consider the pros and cons in the context of your specific compressor size, pressure requirements, desire for status indications, and tolerance expectations.

Applications and Uses

Pressure switches like 30/50 and 40/60 models are used in a wide range of pneumatic system applications. Here are some of the most common.

Common Applications

  • Air compressors – The most popular application, providing load/unload control based on tank pressure. Used for both reciprocating and rotary screw compressors.
  • Process control – Pressure switches are widely used in industrial process control systems to activate or deactivate process equipment based on air or liquid pressure levels.
  • HVAC systems – Pressure switches control heating or cooling equipment depending on duct pressures in HVAC systems. Can provide fan control or activate dampers.
  • Pumps – Liquid pumps for applications like water transfer are often controlled by pressure switches monitoring outlet pressure.
  • Pneumatic conveying – Pressure switches can provide control for blower and vacuum pumps used in pneumatic conveying systems for materials handling.
  • Blow molding – In plastic blow molding processes, pressure switches control air valves and actuators based on mold pressures.

Ideal Uses for Each

30/50 Pressure Switches

Best for:

  • Small air compressors and air tools
  • HVAC systems with lower pressure requirements
  • Tight tolerance pressure control applications
  • Lower pressure pneumatic conveying and process systems

40/60 Pressure Switches

Best for:

  • Larger air compressors
  • HVAC systems with higher pressure demands
  • Controlling medium to high pressure pneumatic process equipment
  • Applications where up to 10% tolerance is acceptable

Selecting the right pressure switch model comes down to matching pressure range, tolerance, and application size.

Installation and Maintenance

To realize the best performance and life from 30/50 or 40/60 pressure switches, proper installation and maintenance is key.

Installation Considerations

  • Mount the pressure switch in a dry, low vibration location using the provided threaded ports.
  • Use suitable thread sealant on the connections. Avoid over tightening.
  • Wire the electrical connections per the diagram on the pressure switch. Verify voltage matches switch rating.
  • Pipe a sensing line from the compressor tank or system pressure point to the switch.
  • Adjust switch pressure setpoints if necessary. 30/50 switches often have an adjustment screw.
  • Always install a properly sized pressure relief valve to avoid overload.

Maintenance Tips

  • Periodically check cut-in and cut-out pressures with a test gauge to verify proper operation.
  • Clean any debris from pressure ports to prevent clogging.
  • Replace switch if operation becomes inconsistent or contacts are worn. Life is often 100k cycles.
  • Take precautions against oil contamination and water ingress which can impact switch function.
  • For dual control switches, change out both simultaneously to avoid mismatches.

Proper installation and periodic maintenance will provide reliable pressure control and long service life from quality 30/50 or 40/60 mechanical pressure switches.


What is the main difference between a 30/50 and 40/60 pressure switch?

The main difference is the pressure settings. A 30/50 switch has a lower cut-out of 30 PSI and cut-in of 50 PSI. A 40/60 switch has a higher 40 PSI cut-out and 60 PSI cut-in.

When should I choose a 30/50 switch instead of a 40/60?

Use a 30/50 switch on smaller compressors up to around 7.5 HP. The lower 30 PSI cut-out matches smaller compressor capabilities. Also choose 30/50 when you need pressure control with less than 3% tolerance.

In what applications are 40/60 pressure switches preferable?

40/60 switches are ideal for larger compressors from 10-30 HP range. They accommodate the higher pressure capacity of bigger compressors. Also use when the wider 10% cut-out tolerance is acceptable.

Can I adjust the pressure settings on 30/50 and 40/60 switches?

You can adjust the cut-in and cut-out settings on some 30/50 switches using an adjustment screw. But 40/60 switches are often fixed at their factory pressure settings. Electronic switches allow full pressure adjustment.

What maintenance should be done on 30/50 and 40/60 pressure switches?

Check cut-in and cut-out pressures periodically with a test gauge. Clean any debris from pressure ports. Replace the switch if operation becomes inconsistent or electrical contacts are worn out. Also watch for oil or water contamination.


Pressure switches play a vital role in controlling pneumatic equipment and HVAC systems. The two most common pressure switch types are the 30/50 and the 40/60 models. While they work on similar principles, there are important differences:

  • 30/50 switches are best for small compressors and lower pressure tolerance
  • 40/60 switches handle higher pressures from larger compressors
  • Consider pressure range, tolerance, and application when selecting
  • Both switches help prevent short cycling with a 20 PSI differential
  • Take care to properly install and maintain for best performance

By understanding the capabilities of 30/50 vs 40/60 pressure switches, you can select the best model for your air compressor or other pneumatic system. Match the switch design pressure and tolerance to your specific equipment size and pressure requirements. With proper installation and maintenance, a quality mechanical pressure switch will provide reliable control and a long operating life.

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