Friday, April 27, 2018

Thermocouple Junction Configurations

Thermocouple JunctionThermocouples are simple devices made up of several key components: thermocouple wire, electrical
insulation, and the a welded wire sensing junction. Many thermocouple designs also include a stainless steel sheath that protects the thermocouple from vibration, shock, and corrosion.

A thermocouple has three variations of sensing tip (or junction):
  1. Exposed junction, where the exposed wire tips and welded bead have no covering or protection.
  2. Grounded junction, where the welded bead is in physical contact with the thermocouple's sheath.
  3. Ungrounded junction, where the tip is inside the thermocouple sheath, but is electrical (and somewhat thermally) insulated from the sheath (no sheath contact).
Exposed junction thermocouples respond to temperature change quickly and are less costly, but their signals are susceptible erratic reading caused by induced or conducted electrical noise. Because there is no sheath, they are also prone to mechanical damage and ambient contamination.

Grounded junction thermocouples provide fast response and are mechanically more robust, with a metallic sheath that protects the thermocouple both mechanically and from contaminants. But because their sensing tip is in contact with the external sheath, their signal still can be affected by externally induced or conducted electrical noise.

Ungrounded thermocouples, like grounded, are protected mechanically and from ambient contaminants by their sheath. However, their sensing junctions are kept separate from their metallic sheath, isolating the junction from external electrical  interference. This separation does come at a small cost in temperature sensing responsiveness though.

For safety, precision, and optimum performance, always talk to an applications specialist when applying temperature sensors. A short phone call can prevent major headaches and lost time in  troubleshooting a misapplied thermocouple.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thermocouples and RTDs Used in Power Plants

Thermocouple and RTD Used in Power Plants
The majority of temperature measuring in a electrical generating plant are done with RTDs (resistance temperature detectors) and thermocouples (T/Cs).

RTD's are devices that produce a measurable resistance change with temperature change, while thermocouples produce a mV signal change in response to temperature change.

RTD's are constructed of a a thin conductor (nickel, platinum, copper) wrapped around a glass or ceramic bobbin, inserted into a protective sheath, and backfilled with an electrically inert, but thermally conductive, material.

Power plants historically use 100-ohm platinum, 100-ohm nickel, 120-ohm nickel, and 10-ohm copper RTDs. While providing excellent accuracy and long term stability, RTDs are prone to mechanical shock and vibration found in a generating facility. They are more expensive than thermocouples and application temperatures are generally limited to around up to 1110°F. One very attractive feature for RTDs are their inherent electrical noise immunity, a significant advantage over thermocouples. Finally, common, inexpensive instrument wire is used for connecting the RTD to the measuring instrumentation.

A thermocouple consists of two wires, made of dissimilar alloys, joined together at each end. One junction is designated the hot junction, the other junction is designated as the cold (or reference junction). When the hot junction experiences a change in temperature, a voltage is generated that is proportional to the difference in temperature between the hot and cold junctions. 

T/Cs are be made of different combinations of alloys and "calibrations" for use at various temperature ranges. The most common thermocouples for the power generation industry applications under 1800 °F are type are J, K and N ; for applications over 1800 °F,  types R and S are common. Aside from the obvious higher temperature capability, thermocouples provide faster response and greater shock and vibration endurance. However, thermocouples, due to the minuter signals the produce, are more susceptible to conducted and radiated electrical noise.  Another concern with thermocouples are their degradation over time when used at elevated temperatures and are therefore less stable than RTDs. One final issue is the need to run costly thermocouple extension wire of the same type as the thermocouple between sensor and measuring instrument.

When in doubt about which sensor is best to apply in a power plant application, contact an application expert who will help you choose the ideal sensor for your requirements.
Ph: 310-533-6877

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What are Plastics Thermocouples?

Plastics Thermocouple
Right Angle, Bayonet Style, Plastics Thermocouples
The term "plastics thermocouple" refers to a style of thermocouple designed and used by the plastics, packaging and rubber industries.  They are installed on injection molding, thermoforming, vacuum forming, and extruding equipment to accurately sense the temperature of the plastic molds and nozzles. While there are a variety of configurations of plastics thermocouples - such as bayonet, washer style, shim style, nozzle, and right angle - their basic components remains the same.

In most cases, plastics thermocouples are ANSI type J or type K calibration. Type J or K lead wire is available in a variety of insulation materials and protection options, such as high temperature fiberglass, PVC, stainless steel braided fiberglass, or stainless steel flexible armor cable. Electrical connections are most commonly bare leads, male thermocouple jacks, female thermocouple plugs, or spade lugs.

Bayonet designs are straight or right angle, and use industry standard bayonet fittings that easily retrofit most injection molding and plastics processing equipment. These fittings allow for adjustable depth and are spring loaded for maintaining goos contact with the media. Washer and shim style thermocouples weld or crimp the thermocouple sensing junction right to the washer or shim.

Bayonet thermocouples use a tube and wire design utilizing stranded thermocouple cable through out the probe. The metallic probe is made of 301, 304 or 316 series stainless steel. The thermocouple can made with a grounded, or ungrounded junction. A grounded junction is welded to the tip of the probe and, while it has very fast response, it can conduct electrical noise back to the instrumentation. An ungrounded junction is isolated from the metallic probe, and prevents electrical noise transmission. However, ungrounded junctions are slightly slower to respond to temperature changes.

For more information on plastics thermocouples, contact Duro-Sense by visiting https://duro-sense or by calling 310-533-6877.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

High Quality, Precision Temperature Sensors for Military and Aerospace Applications

Duro-Sense offers a wide selection of thermocouples and RTD's for the military and aerospace industries. All sensors are designed for high-reliability and to endure shock,
vibration, and widely-changing ambient environments. All products are calibrated to NIST standards and are ISO9001, AS9100, ISO17025 compliant. All temperature sensors are designed and tested to provide exceptional accuracy, stability and reliability in the most demanding environments.

Call 310-533-6877 of visit for more information.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The 3 Most Common Temperature Sensors: Thermocouples, RTD's and Thermistors

This post explains the basic operation of the three most common temperature sensing elements - thermocouples, RTD's and thermistors.

Thermocouple (image courtesy of Duro-Sense)
A thermocouple is a temperature sensor that produces a micro-voltage from a phenomena called the Seebeck Effect. In simple terms, when the junction of two different (dissimilar) metals varies in temperature from a second junction (called the reference junction), a voltage is produced. When the reference junction temperature is known and maintained, the voltage produced by the sensing junction can be measured and directly applied to the change in the sensing junctions' temperature.

Thermocouples are widely used for industrial and commercial temperate control because they are inexpensive, fairly accurate, have a fairly linear temperature-to-signal output curve, come in many “types” (different metal alloys) for many different temperature ranges, and are easily interchangeable. They require no external power to work and can be used in continuous temperature measurement applications from -185 Deg. Celsius (Type T) up to 1700 Deg. Celsius (Type B).

Common application for thermocouples are industrial processes, the plastics industry, kilns, boilers, steel making, power generation, gas turbine exhaust and diesel engines, They also have many consumer uses such as temperature sensors in thermostats and flame sensors, and for consumer cooking and heating equipment.

resistance temperature detectors
Wire-wound RTD (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
RTD’s (resistance temperature detectors), are temperature sensors that measure a change in resistance as the temperature of the RTD changes. They are normally designed as a fine wire coiled around a bobbin (made of glass or ceramic), and inserted into a protective sheath. The can also be manufactured as a thin-film element with the pure metal deposited on a ceramic base much like a circuit on a circuit board.

The RTD wire is usually a pure metal such as platinum, nickel or copper because these metals have a predictable change in resistance as the temperature changes. RTD’s offer considerably higher accuracy and repeatability than thermocouples and can be used up to 600 Deg. Celsius. They are most often used in biomedical applications, semiconductor processing and industrial applications where accuracy is important. Because they are made of pure metals, they tend to more costly than thermocouples. RTD’s do need to be supplied an excitation voltage from the control circuitry as well.

Thermistor (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
The third most common temperature sensor is the thermistor. Thermistors work similarly to RTD’s in that they are a resistance measuring device, but instead of using pure metal, thermistors use a very inexpensive polymer or ceramic material as the element. The practical application difference between thermistors and RTD’s is the resistance curve of thermistors is very non-linear, making them useful only over a narrow temperature range.

Thermistors however are very inexpensive and have a very fast response. They also come in two varieties, positive temperature coefficient (PTC - resistance increases with increasing temperature), and negative temperature coefficient (NTC - resistance decreases with increasing temperature). Thermistors are used widely in monitoring temperature of circuit boards, digital thermostats, food processing, and consumer appliances.

For more information, contact Duro-Sense by calling 310-533-6877 or visit

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What is the Difference Between Thermocouple Wire and Thermocouple Extension Wire?

Thermocouple Wire
Thermocouple Wire
Insulated thermocouple wire is single pair wire that can be made into a thermocouple. More specifically, it is the wire from the sensing junction, to the point of cold junction compensation. Thermocouple wire is made from two dissimilar metals conductors that are joined (welded) together at the sensing end. Different metal wires are used for the various types of  thermocouple types (J, K, T, E, etc). These dissimilar metals produce a millivolt electrical signal at the cold junction that is proportional to the change in temperature at the sensing end.  Thermocouple wire has two grades; standard and Special Limits of Error (SLE). Special Limits of Error wire is made of the same metals as standard wire, but uses a higher grade with increased accuracy and higher expense than standard thermocouple wire.

Thermocouple extension wire
Thermocouple extension wire.
Thermocouple wire is almost always insulated. Insulation varies from low temp (Nylon, FEP Teflon, TFE Teflon, PFA Teflon, Kapton) to high temp (fiberglass, Hi-Temp fiberglass, Refrasil, Ceramic Fiber).  Thermocouple wire is typically sold in 1000' spools, but can be sold in small quantities as well.

Thermocouple extension wire is a single pair wire that cannot be made into a thermocouple, but is used to carry the signal from a thermocouple to the recorder, controller, or instrument reading the signal. Extension grade wire is used to carry a signal representing the higher temperature seen by the sensing location, but extension wire itself cannot be generally exposed to those higher temperatures. Extension wire cannot be used to make a thermocouple, but thermocouple wire can be used as extension wire. Insulation is typically PVC, but other option are available.

Multi-pair extension wire is simply more than a single pair in the same jacket.  It is extension only and is usually available in 2,4,6,8,12,16,24 pairs. It is used primarily when a contractor has to run multiple runs of wire. It allows them to run one piece of wire rather than multiple individual runs.

For more information on all varieties of thermocouple wire, contact Duro-Sense by calling 310-533-6877 or visiting

Monday, March 5, 2018

Industrial Thermocouples

Industrial thermocouples are used to sense temperature in industrial processes. They come in a wide variety of types. The type of thermocouple, defined by the combination of dissimilar metals used, determines the functional temperature range and should be matched to the requirements of the application.

Magnesium Oxide (MgO) thermocouples consists of a thermocouple junction encased in a metal sheath, surrounded by compressed magnesium oxide insulation. The thermocouple junction, also known as the sensing junction, is the point where the two dissimilar metals meet and are usually welded together. Since the sensing junction is sealed from the environment, there is reduced potential for contamination and corrosion. MgO thermocouple sheaths are annealed and can be formed into different shapes and diameters.

Industrial thermocouple usually are constructed by inserting the thermocouple element into a metallic thermowell or ceramic protection tube. Not only does this protect the sensing element from the process, it accommodates easy removal and replacement.  Industrial thermocouples can be designed with virtually endless combinations of elements, wells, protection tubes, junction boxes, wiring terminals, and process connections.