Temperature sensors find countless uses in our daily lives, enabling the functionality of common devices such as thermometers, refrigerators, microwaves, and water heaters. Beyond domestic applications, temperature sensors also benefit the operations of geotechnical monitoring, aviation, medicine, manufacturing, and more. As basic instruments capable of measuring heat and cold as a numerical unit, temperature sensors are quite important for many applications and industries. In this blog, we will provide a brief overview of the functionality of temperature sensors and their types, allowing you to better understand how they function and how they are used.
In their most basic form, temperature sensors are a type of thermocouple or resistance temperature detector that converts heat or cold into an electrical signal that provides measurements in a readable form. Thermometers are one of the most simplistic types of temperature sensors, while temperature meters are more robust as they serve the geotechnical field and other such applications. Thermocouples are also an option; such devices are constructed from two dissimilar metals which produce electrical voltages that are proportional to temperature changes. The final major type of temperature sensor is the Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD), that of which is a form of variable resistor capable of adjusting electrical resistance in proportion to temperature changes. Unlike the thermocouple, the RTD’s electrical changes are done in a precise, repeatable, and linear manner.
For the ability of most temperature sensors to detect temperature changes, they rely on the voltage that moves across their diode. As the diode’s resistance is directly affected by temperature changes, resistance can be measured and converted into standard units of temperature before being displayed as a numerical value. While sharing similar methods of detecting temperature, many temperature sensors are separated by their method of connection, either being contact or non-contact types.
Thermocouples and thermistors are both considered to be contact types, requiring direct contact with an object for the measurement of temperatures. Non-contact temperature sensors, on the other hand, utilize the thermal radiation that releases from the heat source to determine temperatures. Generally, non-contact sensors are beneficial when temperatures need to be read in hazardous areas such as a thermal power plant or a nuclear power plant. Infrared temperature sensors serve as an example of a non-contact type, capable of detecting infrared radiation in their surrounding environment. As heated objects release infrared radiation naturally, the infrared temperature sensor will detect such radiation and calculate a measurement, allowing one to determine temperatures from a safe distance.
Depending on one’s needs, there are numerous temperature sensor types, those of which range from simplistic thermometers and wire assemblies to semiconductor devices. When using temperature sensors, it is important that they are handled with care as to maintain their effectiveness and capabilities. If you find yourself in need of various parts and components for your temperature detection operations, there is no better alternative than NSN Components.
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