We present carrier-injection-based photonic switches, engineered for optical pulse distribution with maximum energy efficiency. We apply small-signal analysis and for the first time large-signal modelling to methodically optimize the switches for minimum energy consumption and to classify the electronic contributions from resistance, capacitance and diode. We present optimized electronic switch activation, which yields a sixfold reduction in energy consumption and we show how static power consumption becomes a negligible factor for optical pulse switching. We demonstrate that with adjusted phase shifter dimensions, MZI-based switches can operate with additional 50% enhanced energy efficiency with down to 4 pJ per switching operation. We show even further efficiency improvement using ring-based designs, allowing an additional improvement of 50% in energy efficiency and we discuss the trade-off between efficiency and optical bandwidth associated to the Q-factor. We benchmark carrier-injection-based switches together with comparable technologies of the silicon photonics platform and identify carrier-injection to be the most suitable technology for pulse switching applications.