The Importance Of Thermocouple Calibration

Power station, Combined heat power plant at night, Large combined cycle power plant.

Thermocouples are devices that are used to measure temperature. They work by producing a charge or voltage between two metals which is then used to determine the local temperature. Thermocouples are great in that they are very hardy and can be used in diverse locations. They are also a lot quicker than other alternatives, making them ideal for taking quick readings. While they may not be as accurate as RTDs, they have a much broader range of temperature measurements which makes them a lot more versatile. For thermocouples to work effectively, it is important to ensure that they are properly calibrated.

Calibrating your devices can help you determine how accurate your own device is. calibration in this case is done by comparing the results of one thermocouple device against another whose accuracy has already been determined. By doing this, you can determine how ‘off’ your own device is.

Calibration of thermocouple devices is typically done under highly controlled conditions which ensure that its accuracy is properly determined. However, there are circumstances in which this process of calibration is done in the field where the device is being used.

Wire Composition Matters

As explained, thermocouple devices work by producing a charge between two different wires. However, the charge is produced along the entire length of the wire and not just at their end. What this means is that if the composition of the wires is off, the readings generated by the device are likely to be off. Over time the composition of the wires can change due to chemical reactions and other factors. If this happens, then the results that you get from each reading are likely to get progressively wrong as the conditions worsen. Calibrating your device can help fix these problems.

Accuracy Varies Over The Years

Another reason why it is important to calibrate your thermocouple device is the fact that its accuracy is likely to change over the years. This is a result of temperature changes which can affect the wires being used in the device. When the device is exposed to temperatures above 22 degrees Celsius, the properties of the wires can change ad this will have an effect on the readings that it produces.

Effects Of Wrong Readings

If you fail to calibrate your thermocouple device properly, you may end up with inaccurate readings which could have serious repercussions. If these devices are being used in an industrial process, it is possible that the wrong readings could end up affecting the quality of the products that are produced. It could even lead to industrial disasters. For example, factories that use boilers and other heat generating machinery rely on thermocouples to ensure that the temperature inside the boilers is kept as a pre-determined level. If your thermocouple is not working properly, there is a danger that some of these temperatures may be exceeded without quality control or safety staff realizing it. The result could be an industrial disaster. Apart from the potential loss of life, such an incident would probably lead to the closure of the plant in order to fix the damage. This translates to losses and lost productivity.

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