The Uses and Functions of Digital Pressure Gauges
Next to temperature, pressure is probably the most common measurement taken for industrial or commercial applications. Even at home, you may find yourself measuring pressure to properly calibrate your boiler system or ensure the optimum operation of your car tires. A digital pressure gauge is the simplest, most straightforward way of measuring and displaying pressure for most uses. While other pressure sensors typically transmit electrical signals to a remote location for recording and later analyzing data, digital gauges display the information immediately and locally in a direct, easy-to-understand readout. To best outline the functionality of digital pressure gauges, I should first proffer a brief rundown on how pressure works.
“Pressure” is a general term used to describe the force exerted on a given area unit. Pressure can be static when measuring gas or liquid, sitting still, or dynamic when measuring gas or liquid in motion. (A hydrostatic pressure gauge, for example, could be used to measure the pressure in a water tank). When discussing liquids, pressure can be measured either as “feet of head,” which is the theoretical height to which a liquid would rise in a container, or “pounds per square inch,” which is the aforementioned force exerted per unit of surface area. For most commercial and industrial applications, the gauge readout will be in pounds per square inch or “psi” for short. For example, if I were to attach a gauge to any of the tires on my car right now, the readout would probably be around 32 psi, which means 32 pounds of force per square inch of the tire surface.
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Digital gauges and analog gauges function a little differently and thus have slightly different applications. Analog gauges usually rely on an internal mechanical structure responding to changes in pressure by either expanding or contracting. A needle is attached to this structure and moves along a set of numbers on a dial to indicate pressure. For these sorts of gauges, changes in pressure affect changes in the electrical resistivity of a metal or semiconductor, which is then reflected onto the gauge. Digital gauges, on the other hand, use more advanced microprocessors and sensors and are capable of delivering extremely accurate measurements on a user-friendly digital readout.
Since they’re easy to read and can be calibrated to display essentially any pressure range with extreme accuracy, digital pressure gauges are useful for a wide variety of commercial and industrial functions. Common applications for these devices include any form of mechanical engineering, generalized service operations, pneumatic testing (air pressure), hydraulics — the list really does go on. The readout units can even be customized based on location, usage, or even just personal preference so that the user never needs to calculate conversions manually.
Digital gauges boast a whole host of other advantages over their analog counterparts as well. -They’re easy to re-range: they can be quickly calibrated to display pressure in any range. Whether you’re using a hydrostatic pressure gauge to measure the immense amount of pressure in a 75-foot tall water standpipe, or you want to measure the relatively tiny amount of pressure exerted by a small gas leak, you can adjust your gauge to reflect any range of pressure.
-They have steady readouts in high vibration applications: for any mechanical or hydraulic applications where a pipe or piece of machinery vibrates as it exerts dynamic pressure, an analog gauge will be difficult to read. It might not even give an accurate reflection. On the other hand, a digital gauge will continue to give an accurate measurement even in situations where the machinery is subject to heavy vibration.
These gauges display a simple number that is not subject to interpretation or estimation of any kind, which allows an operator to much more easily ensure perfect accuracy of their reading.-They require no operator interpretation: analog gauges require the operator to personally calculate or even estimate pressure readouts from an archaic dial setup. This can be especially difficult and lead to especially inaccurate results in low-pressure applications but can just as easily result in operator error at any pressure range. A digital gauge won’t have that problem. at the
-They’re far more durable: certain applications where you’ll need to measure pressure might have large spikes in pressure ratings. For example, shutting a valve too quickly or powering down a water pump too fast might produce a “water hammer,” an immediate and powerful surge in pressure. The construction of analog gauges renders them structurally vulnerable to these sorts of pressure spikes, which can end up damaging or even destroying the equipment over time. A digital gauge won’t have that problem. A digital hydrostatic pressure gauge, for example, will easily be able to deal with the pressure differential created by the water hammer and continue to give an accurate readout.
Digital gauges aren’t perfect, however. They do have two minor drawbacks in their application that I feel it’s only fair to mention. -They require power: analog gauges don’t rely on electricity so that they can function without an external power source. The same isn’t true of digital. With a digital gauge, you’ll need to provide a form of electricity, whether by battery (as is most common) or by other means such as solar.
-Analog gauges are slightly more useful in highly variable pressure situations: it’s a little bit easier to watch a needle bounce back and forth to get a general sense of rapid pressure changes than to watch numbers quickly change on a screen.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the supremacy of the digital gauge! For my own personal pressure measurement needs, I always go digital. Whether at work at my water treatment plant, for the tires on my car, or my SCUBA equipment, I prefer the ease and versatility of digital in almost all applications.!