4 Tips for Selecting a Temperature Measurement Solution

Posted by ERNIEGRAVES Process Measurement & Control on May 26, 2016 7:30:00 AM


Industrial_Temperature_Measurement.jpgThere are a lot of different technologies available on the market for monitoring the temperature of the liquids and gases you use for your company’s processes.

Having the right tools for process measurement and control can mean the difference between accurate & effective monitoring of processes that enables efficiency, and missing critical information needed to ensure safety.

With the plethora of temperature measurement solutions available on the market, it’s important to be able to carefully discern which solution is the best fit for your process measurement and control needs.

So, how can you choose the best temperature monitoring device for your processes?

Here are a few tips to help you out:

Tip 1: Balancing the Need for Accuracy & Functionality with Your Budget

In an ideal world, you’d have all the money you needed to purchase only the most sophisticated, accurate temperature monitoring devices known to man. However, here in the real world, we all have a budget to deal with.

Different kinds of temperature testing devices will vary in accuracy and cost based on their method for monitoring temperature.

For example, old bimetal or spring thermometers are cheap, but inaccurate because of their tension-dependent mechanisms. Thermocouples, while a bit more expensive, tend to be accurate to within 1-3%, and can even be self-powering, eliminating the need for an external power source.

Infrared thermal monitoring devices are highly accurate when they’ve been properly adjusted for the emissive value of the fluid being tested (and reflected radiation isn’t an issue). However, these tend to be very costly to acquire compared to other technologies.

Ultimately, balancing accuracy versus what you process measurement equipment budget can handle will take some time spent researching your options for temperature measurement.

Tip 2: Consider the Nature of Your Process

The specific application that you’re testing should have a considerable impact on which thermal monitoring technology you use.

For example, if you’re monitoring flammable gases for safety reasons, then you’ll want to make sure that the thermal measurement tools you use are safe, non-sparking versions. Spark-less technologies are a must, as they limit explosion hazards.

Also, some thermal monitoring technologies, such as thermocouples, may not be suited for use with liquids that can interfere with the electrical conductivity of the thermocouples’ wires.

For extremely high-temperature applications, it’s important to have access to thermometers that can either survive in hot environments, or can monitor temperature without contact.

Making sure that you take the nature of the process you wish to monitor and how it may interact with your measurement equipment into account is critical when choosing a thermal measurement device.

Tip 3: Compare Specific Functionalities of the Meters You’re Looking at as a Final Step

Taking the time to compare specific functionalities and add-ons for thermal measuring equipment is probably one of the last things you should do. Add-on features such as remote connectivity and portability are nice, but it’s more important to make sure that the meter you pick will work before you start looking at added features.

For example, some temperature measurement tools have special software that can help you organize and interpret the data they collect. While certainly useful, this type of added functionality is less important than getting a meter that can accurately read temperatures in your application and environment. After all, if the meter cannot operate properly in your process environment, then the software won’t have reliable data to organize.

Once you have narrowed down your list of choices to your top 10 or fewer meters that you know will work for your process and fit your budget, then you can take the time to balance the specific features of each to find the one that best fits your needs.

#4: Check Out the Warranty Policy Before Settling On a Temperature Measurement Device

Say you’ve narrowed down your list of choices to one or two devices based on functionality, cost, and compatibility with your process. Before you take the plunge and purchase that meter, take some time to review the warranty policy attached to those devices, because it can tell you a lot about how much faith the seller or manufacturer has in that product.

Two of the biggest things to look out for include:

  • Length of Warranty Period. When the maker of a temperature measurement device attaches a long warranty period to their products, it demonstrates great faith in the durability of the product.
  • Warranty Exemptions. Exemptions for when users modify or grossly misuse a product are normal. However, if there are a lot of exemptions to the warranty that cause it to exclude normal use conditions, then that can be an issue later on.

Generally speaking, the longer a warranty is and the fewer exemptions there are to it, the better.

Why should you care about the warranty?

One reason is the total cost of ownership. The longer a warranty is, the less risk there is of you having to pay to replace the device. Even if a device fails, getting a warranty replacement is typically much less costly than having to buy an entirely new device.

There is a lot that goes into picking the right temperature sensor for your process’ needs. Hopefully, these tidbits of advice will help you pick the best sensor for the job.

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Topics: Measurement & Control, Temperature Measurement