What Is a Sensor?


What Is a Sensor?

A sensor is a type of component which is used to either detect or measure input relative to its application. Many sensors will then act or react to the input depending on their main purpose.

The input could be a range of different matters, a few examples are;

  • Pressure
  • Temperature
  • Weight
  • Movement / Motion
  • Moisture
  • Light 

The output measured by the sensor is usually converted into a readable format for the user and shown on a display. 

What is a Sensor? - Different types of Sensors

To measure the different inputs, different sensors are used. They come in many different shapes and sizes to suit the different uses and application requirements.

You will notice that we are surrounded by sensors; smart phones, laptops, light switches, coffee machines, elevators, heating controls - the list goes on. This guide gives a brief overview of different types of sensors on the market today and what they are used for. If you would like more information on any of the products we offer please contact us: +44(0)1327 351004

What is a Sensor? - Pressure Sensors

what is a sensor pressure sensors There are two main types of pressure sensor; pressure transducers and pressure switches.

Pressure switches are programmed to a limit and will “switch” off or on when that limit is reached. Typical application examples;

  • Oxygen tanks
  • Fans and filters
  • Coffee machines
  • Tyre pressure

Pressure transducers give readings of the actual pressure within a given environment. Typical application examples;

  • Braking systems
  • Hydraulic systems
  • Diesel and gas engines

 Read more about pressure sensors and applications in these articles;

Hydraulic Pressure Sensors

What is a Pressure Sensor?

What is differential Pressure?

Selecting a Pressure Sensor for Industrial Applications

What is a Pressure Switch?

Take a look at all of the pressure sensors we can offer here

What is a sensor? - Position Sensors

Position Sensors are used to measure the position of a given object. This can be in a linear motion (up and down or side to side) or a rotary motion (round). They use either contacting or non-contacting technology depending on the requirements of the application.

Rotary position sensor application examples;

  • Steering angle measurement in vehicles
  • Wind direction measurement
  • Barriers and gate angle measurement

Linear position sensor application examples;

  • Throttle pedal controls
  • Movable ramp and bridge positioning
  • Flight simulators  

Read more about position sensors and applications here;

Position Sensors for Motorsport

Consideration for selecting a Position Sensor

What is a Hall Effect Sensor?

LVDT vs Linear Potentiometer

See all of the position sensors we offer on the Position page of our website

What is a Sensor? - Temperature Sensors

what is a sensor - temperature sensorsTemperature sensors come in a whole array of sizes and shapes and are highly diverse. Temperature probes, NTC thermistors, RTD sensors, thermocouples - are just some of the products within our range.

Many temperature sensors use resistance as an indicator of temperature. They are often wired into an electrical circuit measuring the resistance of the electricity being passed through the element.

Application examples of temperature sensors;

  • Engine and gearbox monitoring on sports cars
  • In alcohol breathalysers to measure breath temperature
  • Measuring the heat on electric radiators
  • Patient monitoring

Find out more about temperature sensors by reading the following articles.

How Does an RTD Work?

Temperature Sensor Applications

Selecting a Temperature Sensor; Things to Consider

Temperature Probe Definition

Types of Thermistors

Take a look at all of our temperature sensors on our website

What is a Sensor? - Weight Sensors

what is a sensor - weight sensorswhat is a sensor weight sensors Sensors used to measure weight are referred to as load cells or force sensors. There are many different types of load cells, they measure weight based on the amount of compression which is detected by the sensors within the cells. Very often strain gauges are used for this process.

Different types of load cells are suitable for different capacities.

Some common applications for load cells are;  

  • On-board weighing - the process of weighing the capacity of what is “on-board” a truck, lorry or vehicle
  • Platform scales - used within warehouses to measure the weight of pallets or boxes

Other applications include;

  • Force applied on the needle of a record player for optimum sound
  • Counting scales
  • Tank weighing
  • Sealing force on bag sealing machine

To find out more about load cells, take a look at these articles.

Load cell Types and Applications

Industrial Load Cells

What is a Single Point Load Cell?

Load Cells for Silo, Tank and Hopper Weight Management

The Benefits of On-Board Weighing

Take a look at all of our Load Cells on our website

Other Sensors

These four types of sensors - position, pressure, temperature and load - are our most popular product ranges. We also provide sensors to measure;

  • Vibration
  • Humidity
  • Strain
  • Photo optic
  • Flow/level

We are part of Variohm Holdings Ltd, as a group we are able to cover any type of measurement within one of our subsidiaries

For switches - Herga Technology Ltd

For motion control - Heason Technology Ltd

For patented linear position technology - Positek Ltd

For test and measurement - Ixthus Instrumentation Ltd

If you require a sensor for any application please contact us +44(0)1327 351004 or sales@variohm.com

For more information please contact: Email: sales@variohm.com Tel:+44 (0) 1327 351004 Fax: +44 (0) 1327 353564


Article date: 25 / Jul / 2019

What Is a Sensor?

Published by: Variohm EuroSensor

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