Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How many feet of T/C wire can I

A. For a specific instrument, check its
specifications to see if there are
any limits to the input impedance.
However as a rule of thumb, limit
the resistance to 100 Ohms
resistance maximum, and this
depends on the gage of the wire;
the larger the diameter, the less
resistance/foot, the longer the run
can be. However, if the
environment is electrically noisy,
then a transmitter may be required
which transmits a 4-20 mA signal
that can be run longer distances
and is more resistant to noise.

Q. Should I use a grounded or
ungrounded probe?

A. It depends on the instrumentation.
If there is any chance that there
may be a reference to ground
(common in controllers with nonisolated
inputs), then an
ungrounded probe is required. If the
instrument is a handheld meter,
then a grounded probe can almost
always be used.

Q. What size relay do I need to
control my heaters?

A. This must be calculated from known
parameters. Take the total wattage
of heaters and divide this value in
watts by the voltage rating of the
heaters in volts. The answer will be
in amperes, and solid state and
mechanical relays are rated by
“current rating” in amperes.

Q. Can I send my 4-20 mA control
output to a chart recorder to
monitor a process input?

A. No. A control output is designed to
control a valve or some equivalent
control device. If you need to send
an analog signal to a recording
device, then choose a controller
that has a “retransmission or
recorder output” option.

Q. Can I split my one T/C signal to
two separate instruments?

A. No. The T/C signal is a very lowlevel
millivolt signal, and should
only be connected to one device.
Splitting to two devices may result
in bad readings or loss of signal.
The solution is to use a “dual” T/C
probe, or convert one T/C output to
a 4-20 mA signal by using a
transmitter or signal conditioner;
then the new signal can be sent to
more than one instrument.

Q. What are the accuracies and
temperature ranges of the
various thermocouples?
A. They are summarized in the tables
on the first few pages of Section H.
It is important to know that both
accuracy and range depend on
such things as the thermocouple
alloys, the temperature being
measured, the construction of the
sensor, the material of the sheath,
the media being measured, the
state of the media (liquid, solid, or
gas) and the diameter of either the
thermocouple wire (if it is exposed)
or the sheath diameter (if the
thermocouple wire is not exposed
but is sheathed).

Q. Why can't I use ANY multimeter
for measuring temperature with
thermocouples? What errors will
result if I don't use a
thermocouple temperature

A. The magnitude of the
thermoelectric voltage depends on
the closed (sensing) end as well as
the open (measuring) end of the
particular thermocouple alloy leads.
Temperature sensing instruments
that use thermocouples take into
account the temperature of the
measuring end to determine the
temperature at the sensing end.
Most millivoltmeters do not have
this capability, nor do they have the
ability to do non-linear scaling to
convert a millivoltage measurement
to a temperature value. It is
possible to use lookup tables to
correct a particular millivoltage
reading and calculate the
temperature being sensed.
However, the correction value
needs to be continuously
recalculated, as it is generally not
constant over time. Small changes
in temperature at the measuring
instrument and the sensing end will
change the correction value.

Q. How can I choose between
thermocouples, resistance
temperature detectors (RTD’s),
thermistors and infrared devices
when measuring temperature?

A. You have to consider the
characteristics and costs of the
various sensors as well as the
available instrumentation. In
generally can measure
temperatures over wide
temperature ranges, inexpensively,
and are very rugged, but they are
not as accurate or stable as RTD’s
and thermistors. RTD’s are stable
and have a fairly wide temperature
range, but are not as rugged and
inexpensive as thermocouples.
Since they require the use of
electric current to make
measurements, RTD’s are subject
to inaccuracies from self-heating.
THERMISTORS tend to be more
accurate than RTD’s or
thermocouples, but they have a
much more limited temperature
range. They are also subject to selfheating.
can be used to measure
temperatures higher than any of the
other devices and do so without
direct contact with the surfaces
being measured. However, they are
generally not as accurate and are
sensitive to surface radiation
efficiency (or more precisely,
surface emissivity). Using fiber
optic cables, they can measure
surfaces that are not within a direct
line of sight.

Q. What are the two most often
overlooked considerations in
selecting an infrared temperature
measuring device?

A. The surface being measured must
fill the field of view, and the surface
emissivity must be taken into

Q. What are the best ways of
overcoming electrical noise

A. 1) Use low noise, shielded leads,
connectors and probes. 2) Use
instruments and connectors that
suppress EMI and RF radiation.
3) Consider using analog signal
transmitters, especially current
transmitters. 4) Evaluate the
possibility of using digitized signals.

Q. If a part is moving, can I still
measure temperature?

A. Yes. Use infrared devices or direct
contacting sensors plus a slip ring

Q. Can a two-color infrared system
be used to measure low
emissivity surfaces?

A. Only if at high temperature, say,
above 700°C (1300°F).

Q. What error will result if the spot
size of the infrared pyrometer is
larger than the target size?

A. It would be indeterminate. The
value would be a weighted average
that wouldn’t necessarily be

Q. What readout should be used
with the OS36, OS37 and OS38

A. Using the DP5000, BS6000, or the
HH-200 would be best.
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