Devices and Hardware

What are sensors? How do sensors work? What types of sensors are there and what do they measure? What role do sensors play in critical monitoring solutions? What are the benefits of using sensors and what kind of industrial applications do they have?

How Sensors Work

A sensor is a device, module, or subsystem whose purpose is to detect events or changes in its environment and send the information to other electronics, frequently a computer processor. A sensor is always used with other electronics.

A device which gives an output by detecting the changes in quantities or events can be defined as a sensor. In general, a sensor produces an electrical signal or optical output signal corresponding to the changes in the inputs.

Sensors measure different data. Some data,  such as pressure, light and temperature is analogue data. However, computers can only work with digital data and therefore an interface box or analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) is needed to convert the analogue data from the sensors into digital data the computer can process.

3 Types of Sensors

There are many different types of sensors, each serving a very specific purpose. Highly utilized types of sensors with industrial applications are for example:

  • Magnetic sensors
  • Infrared sensors
  • Heat Sensitive sensors
  • Temperature sensors
  • Moisture sensor
  • Humidity sensors
  • Radiation sensors
  • Oxygen sensors
  • pH level sensors

Three popular types of sensors are temperature sensors, humidity sensors and moisture sensors.

Temperature Sensors

Temperature Sensors have a wide range of applications. They measure the amount of heat energy (or coldness) that is generated by an object or system. This allows us to detect any physical change to that temperature producing either an analogue or digital output.

There are 4 types of temperature sensors:

  • Thermocouple
  • Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTDs)
  • Thermistors
  • Semiconductor sensors

Humidity Sensors

A humidity sensor (or hygrometer) senses, measures and reports both moisture and air temperature. They work by detecting changes that alter electrical currents or temperature in the air.

There are three types of humidity sensors: 

  1. Capacitive
  2. Thermal
  3. Resistive

Moisture Sensors

A soil moisture sensor measures the quantity of water contained in a material, such as soil on a volumetric or gravimetric basis. To obtain an accurate measurement, a soil temperature sensor is also required for calibration.


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