Among the many choices for kitchen faucets, one often seen in restaurant and public bathrooms are touch on, and touchless faucets also referred to as automatic faucets. However, they are both gaining in popularity for the home kitchen as well.
Let’s chat about that.
Let’s imagine you’ve been working in the garden or on your automobile engine. Your hands have become dirty or muddy, or perhaps all greased up, and you need to wash them.
But do you really want to use those hands to turn on the water at the kitchen faucet? To make a joke about it, you’d want to wash your hands first before you washed your hands.
This is where the automatic faucet, the touch on, and touchless faucet can help.
What is a Touch Kitchen Faucet?
In essence, a touch faucet is one that you can turn on and off merely by touching it. Usually, a brief touch anywhere on the tap is enough to turn it on or off. That sounds pretty simple.
Touch on faucets rely on a technology that senses the small charge of your body. They do this through embedded sensors in the handle and the spout. Simply a quick touch will turn on the faucet when it is not on. Another touch will turn it off when it is on. Some touch faucets turn off automatically after a predetermined period of time.
Only a quick touch will activate or turn off the touch faucet. A long, steady touch, such as when you are cleaning the faucet, will not turn the water on.
How Does a Touchless Faucet Work?
Touchless faucets use a sensor, as do touch faucets. The other half of the technology is a detector. However, the difference is that the sensor in a touchless faucet is motion-activated rather than touch-activated.
It does this either with infrared light or an ultrasonic sensor. You will customarily find the sensor either at the front or side of the faucet body. Some faucets, though, hide the sensor at the back of the spout.
When the beam of infrared light reflects off your hand back into the detector, the water will turn on; and, when the ultrasonic sensor is disrupted, the water will turn on. In each case, the water will turn off when the sensor returns to its normal, passive state.
These sensors and detectors need a power source to work, either a direct electrical connection or batteries. Obviously, once connected to the house’s wiring, no further work is necessary. If the sensors are battery-powered, the batteries will need to be replaced from time to time.
Considerations When Choosing a Touch and Touchless Faucet
As with all faucets, there are various quality levels when it comes to touch on and touchless faucets. The key component of these faucets is the sensor. Always check the brand reviews before making a purchase.
Touchless and touch sensitive kitchen faucets are, as you would expect, more expensive than conventional faucets. Installation can be more expensive, too, especially if you need an electrician to provide an outlet beneath the sink for the sensor/detector. Be sure to check the warranty that will come with your faucet, with a lifetime warranty being the optimal protection for your investment.
You will also want to make sure you can switch your faucet to manual mode easily. If the power goes out, or if it’s time to change the battery, but you don’t have a replacement, you will want to be able to switch to manual easily and quickly while you wait for the power to come back on or to run to the hardware store to pick up a battery.
Be sure to look for a model that can be adjusted easily for water flow and temperature.
Touch vs. Touchless Kitchen Faucets
Which is better? How do you choose?
Earlier, we mentioned coming in from the garden or the garage with really dirty or greasy hands. Whether your faucet is a touch or touchless model, your hands never have to touch anything.
If it’s a touch, you can use your forearm. If it’s touchless, well, that answers itself. You will also want to make sure you can switch your faucet to manual mode easily. If the power goes out, or if it’s time to change the battery, but you don’t have a replacement, you will still want your faucet to work.
While each requires an electrical source (either plug-in or batter), these are not genuine worries. Nor is the never-turned-off faucet.
Ignore the myth of the touch on faucet that never turns off, or worry about your children touching to turn the faucet on and then walking away to leave the water running. Touch on faucets remain on for a limited amount of time before automatically turning off.
And ignore the myth about being electrocuted. Batteries do not generate sufficient voltage to harm you. Sensor adapters limit the voltage well below the harmful level.
The Pros and the Cons of Touch and Touchless Faucets
● Health. When those dirty or greasy hands need cleaning, they do not have to touch the faucet. No bacteria will contaminate the faucet, and you won’t need to wash the faucet after you finish. Germs don’t get spread from the faucet because it’s never touched, except to clean.
● Appearance. While stainless steel is not available for touch and touchless faucets, there are some lovely alternatives. Copper, brass, zinc, and nickel are all available. This is because they conduct electricity, whereas stainless steel does not. A brushed nickel, or polished chrome, can make an excellent sink statement in your kitchen.
● Conservation. The water only runs for a limited period of time and then turns off automatically. It runs only when you need it, and not, for example, while you are lathering up your hands or scrubbing under your fingernails. And, as mentioned earlier, it protects you from a child who might forget to turn it off.
● Ease of Use. This is pretty self-explanatory. Touch or wave.
These are all pluses and may be persuasive enough to help you make your decision. But before you do, you should consider these other points:
● Cost. Yes, touch and touchless faucets do cost more. Much more. It is true they will save money over time (see Conservation above), but they will cost more to purchase and install.
● Power. They need electricity to run, and sometimes the power goes out. This applies to those connected to an electrical outlet. Batteries do die eventually and need to be replaced, so you need a stash on hand. This “con” is mitigated by faucets that can be easily switched to manual use but is worth considering.
● Settings. Water flow and temperature. It’s not as easy as adjusting the valves beneath the sink. Some use a remote control, and others have settings embedded in the faucet activated by touching. Whatever you do, don’t lose the user manual or the remote control.
● Sensor Failure. You’ve likely experienced this in a restaurant bathroom as you wave your hand all over the sink, trying to turn the water on or move to another sink, hoping to find one that works. It’s worse when it’s in your kitchen, as you have only one faucet.
Weigh these pros and cons, and conduct your due diligence when shopping for your faucet. Find one that meets your needs and comes with a strong warranty and a good manual.
And with your touch or touchless faucet, don’t worry when you walk in with grime or greasy hands the next time.