Those Darned Public Bathroom Faucet Sensors
By Brad Jensen, President of Jenesis International
We have all experienced frustration with automatic faucets in public restrooms, even those of us who work for a company that has designed more than a few motion sensing products. So what’s up with that, and is there anything you can do to get those faucets to work?
First it helps to understand how these kinds of devices operate. Somewhere on the faucet is a sensor that usually sits behind a dark lens, similar to the lens on the end of your TV remote. The sensor on the faucet actually works quite a bit like your TV and remote control, sending out an invisible infrared signal, and receiving that signal when it is reflected by your hands.
Depending on the design, the sensor could be looking for several different things. Some just measure how close you are to the sensor, while others require that the return signal be regularly changing, expecting that you are moving you hands while using the faucet. Some motion activated faucets also include a short timer, so once activated it will run for a certain time before shutting off. Some faucets allow the installer to make adjustments to the sensor as well. If the owner of the restroom facilities is particularly environmentally aware, or highly cost conscious, they may set the units to run for the shortest possible time or require a very strong reflected signal before they will operate. Sometimes these features can be abused, making life difficult for those of use just trying to wash our hands.
So, here some tips for getting the most out of those stubborn motion-activated faucets:
All that said, it most motion sensing fixtures on the market are far from bullet-proof. I think many could use more design work. As a product developer, I would be disappointed if my design didn’t work flawlessly 99.9% of the time. While they really shouldn’t require you to learn tricks to make them do their job, I hope these tips we’ve provided will help you get water from those uncooperative IR faucets while we wait for them to finally build a better one.