Relay Toggle Circuit

This toggle circuit operates by using a couple 555 timers wired as inverters.

Pins 2 and 6 are the threshold and trigger inputs to the first timer and pin 5 is the output. The output at pin 5 will always be the inverse of the input at pins 2 and 6. Likewise, the output at pin 9 of the second timer will always be the inverse of the input at pins 8 and 12. A 100K resistor connects the output of one inverter to the input of the other so the state of one will be the opposite of the other.

In operation, the 1uF capacitor will charge to whatever voltage is present at the output on pin 5. When the button is pressed, the capacitor voltage will be applied to the input of the other timer which will reverse the state of both timers and toggle the relay, either on or off.

To follow it more closely, assume the output at pin 5 is +12 volts and the second output at pin 9 is zero volts. The 1uF cap will be charged to 12 volts. When the button is pressed, the cap will apply +12 to the inputs at pin 2 and 6 which will cause the output at pin 9 to go to zero, turning off the relay. When the button is released, the cap will discharge to zero, since the voltage at pin 5 is now zero. When the button is again pressed, the capacitor will apply zero to pins 2 and 6 causing the output at pin 9 to switch positive and engage the relay, and the cycle repeats.

The advantage of this circuit is the large hystersis range on the inputs. The button can be held closed indefinetly without upsetting the state of the outputs since the input voltage will be 1/2 the supply due to the equal value 100K resistors. The switching points are 1/3 and 2/3 of the supply so that a voltage of 50% has no effect. The circuit will also toggle very fast and needs no switch debouncing. One disadvantage is that it may turn on with the relay either engaged or disengaged. To solve that problem, you could use a resistor in series with one of the reset lines (4 or 10) and add a capacitor from the reset line to ground.

The 100 ohm resistor and 100uF capacitor serve to filter noise on the supply line if the circuit is used in a automotive application. They may not be necessary. The circuit may work well without those parts.

Copyright 2006 Bill Bowden


  • 1x 556 timer IC
  • 1x 2N3052 or 2N2219 NPN transistor
  • 1x relay
  • 1x push button
  • Misc condensators, resistors, etc.

5 thoughts on “Relay Toggle Circuit

  1. red

    Text does not match the circuit.

    The circuit shown has a 555 timer but the parts list shows a 556 timer.

    Text description is for a 556 timer.   Circuit shown uses a 555 timer.

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