Gas lighter and phonograph are two applications of direct piezoelectricity. In the first one, we have electric energy as an output and in the second we get electric signal as an output. But, what's the difference between Electric Energy and Electric Signal?

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Reference: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323934001_An_Introduction_to_PiezoelectricMaterials_and_Components

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Well, I think there is no difference. But the energy for a lighter is much higher than that of an electronic pick-up (think at the little movement of a grammophone tip). What comes after the device is also very different... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 8:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure if there is any difference. Why do you think there is a difference? \$\endgroup\$
    – Justme
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 8:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's the difference between 'big' and 'small'. It's the difference between a single shiny pebble on the beach that interests you because it sparkles nicely, this is signal. A truck-load of 10 tonnes of gravel to build your house foundation OTOH is useful because there's 10 tonnes of it, and you're not really interested in whether they're shiny or not, these a re energy. They are the same small stones. The difference is how you view them, and how you use them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Neil_UK
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 9:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Neil_UK so they are the same but one is of greater magnitude than the other? \$\endgroup\$
    – user134613
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 9:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. When we want things for energy, we usually want a lot. With signal, we're interested in exactly what it is, and it only has to be big enough to exceed the noise. The piezo lighter only has to make a spark through the air, which needs thousands of volts. The piezo pick-up has to have the precision to be able to tell the violins from the brass, which only needs a few tens or hundreds of mV \$\endgroup\$
    – Neil_UK
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


The way I would interpret this is:

output: electric energy

The output is used to power something that consumes (significant amount of) energy (to heat the gas to ignite it in that case). Piezo crystal is used as a power source.

output: electric signal

The output is read by some device to get information and is not meant to provide (significant amount of) power to anything. Piezo crystal is used as a sensor.


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