Piezo vs Mechanical Switches: What’s the Difference?

Mar 10, 2022

Switches are the building blocks of nearly all electronic devices. Consisting of conductive paths, they are designed to control a circuit. Switches can open or close a circuit. An open circuit, of course, means that electricity can’t flow all the way through it.

There are different types of switches. In the past, most electronic devices used mechanical switches. While mechanical switches are still around, they’re being gradually replaced in favor of touch switches like piezo switches.

What Is a Mechanical Switch?

A mechanical switch is a type of electrical switch that leverages moving parts to control a circuit. All switches are designed to control a circuit. Mechanical switches simply feature moving parts. They may have buttons, for instance, that you can press to open or close a circuit.

What Is a Piezo Switch?

A piezo switch is a type of touch switch that leverages a piezoelectric element to control a circuit. What does this mean exactly? Piezoelectric elements are objects that generate and store an electrical charge when exposed to pressure. When you place your finger against a piezo switch, for instance, it will generate an electrical charge. The piezo switch will then use this electrical charge to open or close a circuit.

Differences Between Mechanical and Piezo Switches

Mechanical and piezo switches aren’t the same. Mechanical switches feature moving parts, such as two or more layers. They may have a button acting as the top layer, followed by a space layer and then a bottom layer. When you press the button, you may inadvertently force it into the bottom layer so that the conductive contacts on both layers touch each other.

Piezo switches don’t have moving parts. They are classified as touch switches, and like other touch switches, they are distinguished from mechanical switches by their lack of moving parts.

Without moving parts, piezo switches are better protected against premature failure. Switches can fail due to constant use. Over time, the parts within a mechanical switch may wear down to the point where they no longer work. Piezo switches don’t have moving parts, so they typically last longer than mechanical switches.

Piezo switches are weather and moisture resistant. They can withstand harsh environments without succumbing to damage. Piezo switches are sealed. Even when exposed to moisture, they will continue to function as intended. The sealed design of piezo switches means they won’t suffer from moisture damage.

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