Touch free faucets go by a number of different names – hands free, electronic, touchless, sensor – but they are all geared toward improving hygiene, simplifying cleaning and maintenance, and conserving water and energy.
Ideal for public restroom facilities where there is a continuous flow of different people, hands free faucets are also becoming mandatory in commercial kitchens where employees are required to wash their hands. And hands free faucets are becoming increasingly accepted in hotel guestroom bathrooms as an “amenity upgrade”.
Hands free faucets have been available for the mainstream public restroom market since the 1980s. In recent years the technology has improved significantly and what really propelled the use of hands free faucets was the implementation of battery technology, health regulations and rapidly increasing demands in hygiene. They stop the spread of germs, conserve water, reduce clean-up time and also cut down on vandalism — individuals who stop up the sink and let the water run.
There is a wide range of very cost-effective products on the market and, without doubt, they induce a higher level of guest satisfaction.
All touchless faucets require a power source. Some models draw power from batteries, while others use a low-voltage current from an AC transformer or AC/DC voltage adapter. In any new building, owners will opt for a hard-wired installation. The predominant sensing technology used in touch-free faucets is active infrared sensing. AIR detects the presence of objects by actively emitting infrared light and waiting for this light to come back to it. When the emitted infrared light is reflected from a user’s hand, an electronic signal is sent to open the solenoid and allows water to flow. When the receiver no longer “sees” reflection of the light, the control electronics then send yet another electrical pulse to the solenoid, this time, instructing the solenoid to close.
Another technology used in some faucets is capacitance sensing. Capacitance or proximity sensing that detects the presence or absence of a conductive object, works by measuring changes in an electrical property called capacitance. In typical capacitance sensing applications, the probe or sensor is one of the conductive objects; the target object — in this case the user’s hands — is the other.
In the future, miniaturised electronics within faucets will allow hotel owners to monitor them remotely. When a faucet fails, an email will be sent and owners will know exactly how much water was consumed.
There is no doubt that hands free faucets have potential for widespread use in hotel guestroom bathrooms as more and more guests demand greater hygiene standards.