touch-sensitive lamp is one that is activated by human touch rather than a flip, pushbutton, or other mechanical switch. These lamps are popular as desk and nightstand lamps. They act on the principle of body capacitance. Touch-sensitive lamp switches may be dimmable, allowing the brightness of the lamp to be adjusted by multiple touches. Most stop at level 3, which is for the brightest use.




How do touch-sensitive lamps work?

  • Temperature – The human body is generally warmer than the surrounding air. Many elevators therefore use buttons that are sensitive to the warmth of the human finger. These buttons, of course, don’t work if you have cold hands. The motion-sensitive lamps you see on people’s patios also sense the heat of the human body.
  • Resistance – The human body, being made mostly of water, conducts electricity fairly well. By placing two contacts very close together, your finger can close the circuit when you touch it.
  • Radio reception – You may have noticed that, when you touch an antenna, the reception gets better on a TV or radio. That’s because the human body makes a pretty good antenna. There are even small LCD TVs that have a conductive neck strap so that the user acts as the antenna! Some touch-sensitive switch designs simply look for a change in radio-wave reception that occurs when the switch is touched.

Touch-sensitive lamps almost always use a fourth property of the human body — its capacitance. The word “capacitance” has as its root the word “capacity” — capacitance is the capacity an object has to hold electrons. The lamp, when standing by itself on a table, has a certain capacitance. This means that if a circuit tried to charge the lamp with electrons, it would take a certain number to “fill it.” When you touch the lamp, your body adds to its capacity. It takes more electrons to fill you and the lamp, and the circuit detects that difference. It is even possible to buy little plug-in boxes that can turn any lamp into a touch-sensitive lamp. They work on the same principle.


By | 2018-07-23T13:50:22+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

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