Not all switches use a mechanical method of operation. There are touch switches that only require direct contact with an object, such as a finger. You don’t have to physically push a touch switch up or down. As long as you touch it, you can activate it. Capacitive switches fall under this category. Capacitive switches don’t rely on moving parts, making them a unique and innovative alternative to mechanical switches.

An Introduction to Capacitive Switches

Capacitive switches are circuit-controlling devices that leverage capacitance to open or close a circuit. They are designed to sense changes in capacitance — just like capacitive touchscreens. If a capacitive switch detects a change in capacitance, it will open or close the corresponding circuit.

How Do Capacitive Switches Detect Changes in Capacitance?

You might be wondering how capacitive switches are able to detect changes in capacitance. Most of them use an electrode behind a panel of glass or plastic. During use, the electrode will apply an electrical charge to the capacitive switch. It will constantly apply this charge while simultaneously measuring it. If you touch the touch switch with a conductive object, the capacitance will change.

Capacitive switches work by tapping into the conductive properties of the human body. The human body is an excellent conductor of electricity. When exposed to an electrical charge, electricity will travel through your body. Capacitive switches generate an electrical charge. And when you touch them, your body will absorb some of their electrical charge. At the same time, the touch switch’s capacitance will change, so it will respond by opening or closing the circuit.

Why Choose Capacitive Switches

Considering that they serve the same purpose as mechanical switches, you may assume that capacitive switches aren’t worth it. Capacitive switches, though, offer some noteworthy benefits. Without moving parts, they last a long time. You can often use a capacitive switch for many years without it failing.

Capacitive switches are easier to use than mechanical switches. Mechanical switches require more force. Capacitive switches, on the other hand, require little or no force. Touching the surface of a capacitive switch should be enough to open or close the circuit.

In Conclusion

Nearly all electronic devices contain one or more switches. Switches are the building blocks of electronics. But there are now touch switches available that use a touch-based method of operation. They don’t contain moving parts, so they are better protected from premature failure than mechanical switches.