Stepping Motors Drive New Smart Faucets logo menu-toggler menu-toggler
Monday - August 16, 2021

Stepping Motors Drive New Smart Faucets

Smart devices are proliferating throughout our homes, but the last device you might expect to become intelligent is the faucet. The reality is though, a smart faucet can save money by reducing water and energy consumption. You can use it hands-free and adjust the flow to suit what you’re doing. It can even prevent scalding by water that’s too hot!

Smart faucets depend on linear stepping motors for reliable and repeatable operation. Here’s more about them.

The Need for Better Flow Control

As droughts become more common and the price of water keeps rising, conservation is of growing importance. One way to cut consumption is by using only what you need rather than leaving the faucet running. Sometimes though you might have your hands full and not be able to shut it off.

When you need hot water, mixing and adjusting for the optimal temperature causes more waste. It’s easy to run the water hotter than needed, which wastes energy and can be dangerous if it causes scalds. Many times someone might just want to reduce the volume of water flowing. An example is varying the flow of water in a shower from intense massaging jets to a sensation of light rain.

For all these reasons, there’s a clear need for better control over smart faucet operation.

Stepping Motors for Flow Control

Faucets are a kind of valve. They might manage the flow of one stream, hot or cold, or they can control mixing and flow. Flow is controlled by moving a stopper or gate to block the stream. In a conventional faucet this happens when you turn the lever or knob. In a smart faucet that motion is provided by a stepping motor.

Stepping motors use the magnetic field generated in the coil windings to push and pull permanent magnets on the shaft or rotor. Switching current flow reverses the polarity and drives rotation.

Permanent magnet (PM) stepping motors use electronics to rotate the shaft through a number of steps determined by the controller. This rotation can be turned into linear motion, as is done in linear stepping motors like the PL25L from MinebeaMitsumi. PM stepper motors like this provide precise and repeatable linear motion without the expense and complexity of feedback systems for closed-loop control.

Using PM Stepping Motors In Smart Faucets

In contrast to a solenoid-operated valve, which is either open or closed, a smart faucet operated by a stepping motor provides precise control over open area, thereby regulating flow.

The intelligent faucets on the market today are operated by touch, gesture or through a “smart” assistant such as Alexa. All these methods give users a noncontact way of starting and stopping the flow. They can increase or reduce the flow rate as requested, and they can shut off after a preset time.

Temperature control is achieved by managing the ratio of hot water to cold, again by way of a stepping motor opening and closing the internal passageways. Some intelligent faucets let the user specify the precise temperature wanted and adjust the flow to maintain it.

Benefits of Smart Faucets

The precise control over flow provided by linear stepping motors improves comfort and convenience, but it can also lead to measurable savings. Setting an upper flow limit could reduce consumption while a timer function avoids the waste from water being left running, (perhaps while someone working in a kitchen had their hands full or another task to perform.) And think of the savings from controlling how long a shower runs!

Temperature control leads to more savings. Using less hot water saves the energy required to heat it. In addition, water consumption is lower, leading to reductions in the water bill!

Upgrade Product Functionality with NMB Steppers

Linear PM stepping motors are a cost-effective way of achieving precise, repeatable positioning. Smart faucets are an excellent application because their use saves water and energy while improving comfort and convenience. NMB Technologies Corp, part of the MinebeaMitsumi Group, offers an extensive range of stepping motors and other electrical devices that provide and control rotary motion. Contact us to find out how we can improve the performance of your products.

Kota Iizuka Kota Iizuka
Contact Author
Related Articles
Subscribe to NMB Tech Blog
Stay updated with the latest posts right inside your inbox.