What Are the Types of Electrical Temperature Sensors?

Temperature detection is indispensable for any type of temperature control application. Within an advanced system, temperature detection circuits read and record ambient temperatures, which are the baseline temperatures of objects or environments. Depending on the complexity of the detection circuit, they can even gauge and notify when temperature control occurs. With temperature sensors, there are four common types to be familiar with that we will discuss below.

1. Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) thermistor

A Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) thermistor is a resistor that loses resistance as temperature rises. Their loss of resistance is very sensitive, affected by even minor changes. Because of this, NTC thermistors are very accurate for temperature monitoring and are the most commonly featured across a variety of equipment. The operating range in which NTC thermistors are most accurate and effective is anywhere between -50 and 150 degrees Celcius for standard applications.

2. Resistance temperature detectors (RTD)

Resistance temperature detectors (RTD) are a length of wire that is wound around a ceramic or glass object. RTDs function like NTCs in that they detect temperature through a change in resistance as the temperature rises or lowers. Platinum is often used for the wire as it has a wide temperature range and stable resistance. RTDs have high accuracy and operate in a range from -200 to 600 degrees celsius.

3. Thermocouples

Thermocouples are another wire sensor type that are often compared to RTDs. With two conductors, thermocouples produce a voltage that can be used to measure temperature through the thermoelectric effect. Thermocouples are useful for thermostats within homes and offices, but are also utilized for gas turbines, diesel engines, and more. Thermocouples have a temperature range of -200 to 1750 degrees Celsius.

4. Semiconductors

Semiconductors are the last main type of temperature detection circuit, mainly featured on integrated circuits. Types of temperature sensing semiconductors include voltage output, current output, digital output, resistance output, and simple diodes. Semiconductors feature the lowest accuracy and narrow ranges of temperature from -70 to 150 degrees Celsius.

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