Everything You Need to Know About Thermocouples

Your regular thermometer is all nice and good if you’re using it to test human temperatures.

However, if you’re a scientist who’s trying to measure the temperature of something like lava, then you’ll have to use something a bit different. After all, you don’t want your regular mercury-based thermometer to instantly boil. The same concept applies to measuring really cold temperatures, like liquid nitrogen. If you’re unaware of the freezing point of mercury, −38°C/38°F turns it into a solid lump.

This brings us to thermocouples. If you’re unaware of how a thermocouple works, you’ve come to the right place.

Keep on reading for our full breakdown of what a thermocouple sensor entails, how it works, as well as a quick look into its most common uses.

Understanding Thermocouples 101: What Is a Thermocouple Sensor?

In the simplest of terms, a thermocouple sensor is one of the more popular types of temperature testing gadgets used in industrial applications.

You’ll find them mentioned with other forms of sensors like thermistors, semiconductors, and Resistance Thermometer Detectors (RTD). Let’s see how they work.

How Does a Thermocouple Work?

Generally speaking, thermocouples are temperature sensors that are made of two metal alloys that are used to produce a voltage.

The way it measures temperature is by having a directly proportional voltage to the temperature difference between the two thermocouples conductors. Moreover, these two ends are made of one measuring part, which is the hot junction, and the other one is an electromotive force (EMF) end, which works as the cold junction.

Basically, when there’s a change in temperature at the hot junction end, there will be a change in the EMF at the cold junction. This EMF output is recorded by a controller, and as the temperature increases, the output EMF increases as well.

Of course, depending on the application and use, there are different types of metals that can be used to produce the necessary voltage. It’s a great flexibility point that allows thermocouples to be used in different calibrations in order to meet various thermocouple applications.

What Are Thermocouples Used For?

The reason behind the thermocouples’ ubiquity in the scientific industry is due to their accuracy.

Not only are they rather accurate, but they can also be used to measure an enormous spectrum of temperatures, that ranges from really freezing degrees to cold temperatures.

Also, thermocouples are simplistic in design and use. They’re made of two pair of metal strips, which makes them relatively inexpensive.

Ready to Revamp Your Measurement Techniques?

We know that for the uninitiated, learning about thermocouples for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. However, we hope our little foray into the basics of thermocouples, how they work, and even their unique qualities were enough to help you consider them for your industrial needs.

Yet, when it comes to technological advancement in this industry, you’ll want to know all the latest news as soon as possible. Thus, make sure to check out our technology section for the freshest updates, and the best tips and tricks.


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