Contact and Non-Contact Temperature Sensors: How Do They Differ?

Resistance test of temperature sensors

Temperature sensors are devices that are used to measure the temperature of an object, liquid, or environment. Temperature sensors are critical in many different industries where they have numerous applications. For example, temperature sensors are used in the iron smelting industry to ensure that metals under processing are heated to the correct temperature for optimal results. They are also used in a variety of industries for quality control. Here, manufactured parts are exposed to heat or cold to understand how they operate within such environments. For example, the automobile industry will test various vehicle engine parts under high temperatures to ensure that they can still function under such environments. Here is a comparison between non-contact temperature sensors and contact temperature sensors.

Contact Sensors

These are a type of temperature sensors that work by measuring the heat that is transferred to the sensor from the object under study. While the basic approach is the same contact sensors differ in how they calculate the temperature. Contact temperature sensors come in many different forms. These include thermistors, thermocouples, and many others. The main difference between these contact sensors is the type of material that they use. When it comes to thermocouples, these sensors use two metals that are not similar to gauge temperature differences. The difference in temperature in the two metals causes a current to flow and this is what the device measures.

Non-Contact Temperature Sensors?

As the name suggests, these devices can measure the temperature of an object without coming into contact with the object itself. Most of these devices use infrared waves to measure temperature and are generally a lot quicker in measuring temperatures than contact sensors. They are often used in situations where coming into contact with the object being studied is not desirable. For example, in industries that work with dangerous materials, these non-contact sensors are immensely useful as they allow for temperature measurements without touching the hazardous material.

Just like contact temperature sensors, these non-contact sensors use the same basic method to measure temperature, but the specific approach varies. For example, when it comes to pyrometers, these non-contact temperature sensors get a temperature reading by detecting the infrared radiation that an object is emitting. In contrast, infrared thermometers measure the heat energy that is being produced by the surface of an object in order to determine the temperature of the object.

Advantages of Non-Contact Sensors

One of the reasons why these kinds of temperature sensors are so popular is their versatility and speed in getting results. The fact that temperature readings can be made from a distance makes them a lot safer when dealing with radioactive materials or any other hazardous substances. Their versatility also stems from the fact that they can be used in a wide range of applications as they do not have to come into contact with the object they are measuring.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to use contact or non-contact temperature sensors will be determined by the unique circumstances in which you are working.

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