If you’re thinking about a capacitive switch, you may want to choose backlighting for it. Backlighting isn’t limited to mechanical switches. Both mechanical and touch switches support backlighting. Capacitive switches, of course, fall under the latter category. They are touch switches that work by detecting the presence of a conductive object.

The human body is an excellent conductor of electricity. Therefore, you can control capacitive switches with a bare finger. Upon placing your finger against a capacitive switch, it will change the orientation of the circuit. The capacitive switch’s circuit will open or close in response to your finger. What are the different backlighting options for capacitive switches exactly?

EL Backlighting

Many capacitive switches feature electroluminescent (EL) backlighting. Also known as electroluminescent panel backlighting, it involves the use of phosphor compounds to generate light. Phosphor is an electroluminescent substance, meaning it will illuminate when exposed to an electrical current. EL backlighting capitalizes on this inherent characteristic by using phosphor compounds to produce light.

Capacitive switches with EL backlighting feature a layer of phosphor compounds. As electricity flows through the phosphor compounds, this layer will produce light.

LED Backlighting

Light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting has become a popular alternative to EL backlighting. It involves the use of bulb-like diodes to produce light. LEDs are essentially semiconductors that generate light in response to an electrical current. Some LEDs are designed to produce visible light, whereas others are designed to produce infrared (IR) light. Regardless, all LEDs consist of diodes that produce light in response to an electrical current.

LED backlighting is commonly used in capacitive switches. Like with EL backlighting, it’s placed in the rear of a capacitive switch where it’s able to illuminate the top layer — including all of the buttons and legends — from behind. LED and EL backlighting are both energy efficient, long-lasting and produce ample light.

Light Guides

You may discover that some capacitive switches feature light guides. Light guides aren’t a specific backlighting technology. Rather, they are used to distribute the light produced by a backlighting system.

Most capacitive switches feature either EL or LED backlighting. Even with one of these backlighting systems, though, capacitive switches may use light guides. Light guides consist of foils that distribute light. They help to protect against uneven brightness. With light guides, the light produced by the EL or LED backlighting system will be evenly distributed throughout the capacitive switch.