How long do membrane keyboards last?

We use keyboards for various day-to-day tasks like typing, programming, gaming, copyrighting, and many simple tasks like searching over the internet. 

The keyboards that we find commonly as a low-budget option are the membrane Keyboards. Membrane keyboards are popular globally and are used widely.

I have used several membrane keyboards since my school days, and a few years back, I switched to a mechanical keyboard. So, I can tell exactly how many years the mechanical keyboards lasted.

Membrane Keyboard Lifespan

membrane keyboard lifespan

So, How long do membrane keyboards last? Membrane keyboards have an average lifespan of 1-1.5 years with heavy usage. With moderate to low use, membrane keyboards have a decent lifespan of 2.5-3 years. 

Membrane keyboards, though, have a decent lifespan according to the price it costs. But these have a significantly lower lifespan as compared to mechanical keyboards.

Lower to Moderate User: Hobbyists and people who surf the internet or use the keyboards less frequently in a day.

Heavy User: Typists, Gamers, programmers, bloggers.

What are Membrane Keyboards?

Membrane keyboards are keyboards that do not have separate keys or do not have moving parts. At the base of the membrane keyboard lies the membrane that captures the keypresses and sends signals to the circuit.

The membrane inside the membrane keyboard
(Image Credit: Aaron Siirila, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Membrane type of keyboards is used commonly at home, offices, schools, colleges, and various other places. These keyboards are much cheaper and are easily available in the market.

As you have already seen the average lifespan you might be thinking if the lifespan for membrane keyboard is less then why so many people use it?

Yeah, you are right! The membrane keyboards also have several benefits for which they are widely used globally.

Inside the Membrane Keyboard

To know about its lifespan, we also need to look into how the membrane keyboard actually works. 

See also  13 Best Keyboards Under 500 in India – ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Membrane Keyboards do not have movable parts and contain a single membrane or film layer beneath the keys. Here is the cross-sectional diagram of the Membrane Keyboard.

Membrane keyboard diagram FULL SCALE
The diagram shows the internal structure of the membrane layer and how the circuit connection is established with a keypress in a membrane keyboard.
(Credits: Fourohfour, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

“The membrane keyboard consists of three layers; two of these are membrane layers containing conductive traces. The center layer is a “spacer” containing holes wherever a “key” exists. It keeps the other two layers separated.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Membrane_keyboard

So, normally the upper part of the membrane, as shown in the diagram, remains separated and hence the circuit remains open. 

However, once the key is pressed the upper membrane and the lower membrane gap diminishes and establishes contact which completes the circuit. 

Then the keyboard registers your keypress. This is how a membrane keyboard works.

This video shows you inside the membrane keyboard

Benefits of Membrane Keyboard  

  1. Easily Available: Membrane keyboards are easily available in any store due to their high demand.
  2. Cheap Price: Membrane keyboards come at a very cheap price. Hence people prefer to get the keyboard experience at a lower cost.
  3. Silent: Membrane keyboards are silent and hence it is the most preferred option in offices.

Drawbacks of Membrane Keyboard

Membrane keyboards comes with several drawbacks too: 

  1. Low Lifespan: Membrane keyboards have a lower lifespan as compared to the lifespan of a mechanical keyboard. With moderate to low use, with a membrane keyboard, you can achieve an average lifespan.
  1. Bad Typing experience: The typing experience is not as par with mechanical keyboards as you don’t get the clicky feel and the feedback that you receive on keypress in a mechanical keyboard.
  1. Keypress Lacks Accuracy: Keypress in a membrane keyboard does not have feedback and hence typing becomes less accurate and cumbersome.  
  1. Not easily repairable: Once damaged, you need to replace the entire membrane and circuit or need to replace the entire keyboard. 

Technology advancement in Mechanical Keyboards

Even the membrane keyboards have evolved a lot in terms of quality and features. Though the basic technology remains the same, still there have been a lot of advances made in membrane keyboards that helped increase their lifetime and the user experience.

Water Resistance

Nowadays, most brands implemented membrane keyboards with splash resistance. Splash resistance is a very important feature and comes in handy as we are more prone to splash water or any liquid to our keyboard.

The liquid spill was one of the reasons why membrane keyboards have a short lifespan.

RGB Lighting

Even the budget gaming keyboards available in the market are the membrane ones. They have implemented the RGB lighting that improves the experience when we use a membrane gaming keyboard during gaming.

Anti-Ghosting 

Membrane keyboards due to their hardware limitations ghost keys when multiple keys are pressed together. Recently, membrane gaming keyboards they solved by implementing change in the internal circuit. Finally, membrane gaming keyboards do have an anti-ghosting feature which is essential if you are into gaming.

Mechanical Feel

Currently, even the membrane gaming keyboards are made with a mechanical feel. Thus you get a better typing experience at a lower cost with a membrane keyboard with a mechanical feel as compared to a mechanical keyboard.

Conclusion

Membrane keyboards are the best keyboard options for people under a budget. Though the average lifetime is short, still choosing a good membrane keyboard is worth it.

If you use the membrane keyboard regularly to search the internet, or performing simple tasks, then the membrane keyboard would last longer.

In brief, we found that an average user using a membrane keyboard regularly will have a good lifespan of the keyboard. Also, choosing a membrane keyboard from a good brand like Logitech or Corsair ensures the quality of keyboard components used.