As part of a study to develop thermally controlled switches for use in superconducting rectifiers operating at a few hertz and 1 kA, a theoretical model is presented of the thermal behavior of such a switch. The calculations are compared with experimental results of several switches having recovery times between 40 and 200 ms. A discussion is given of the maximum temperature T/sub N/ that occurs in the normal regions when the switch is in the resistive state. Once T/sub N/ is known, it is possible to predict the recovery time, activation energy, stationary dissipation and minimum propagation current. The calculated and measured results, in good agreement, show that T/sub N/ is approximately 12 K and largely independent of the thickness or material of the insulation layer. Mention is made of some problems, related to the room-temperature equipment which drives the rectifier, that so far have prevented the rectifiers from being used at their design specifications.