Difference Between Pressure Transducer and Pressure Switch

When looking for a pressure measurement device, you’ll find that there are various options that you can opt for. At the first glance, the pressure sensors – pressure switches and pressure transducers can appear similar, however, they are used in very different ways and have very different design principles.

Pressure Sensors

The pressure sensor converts pressure into an electrical signal. Both pressure transducer and switch can be referred to as “pressure sensors”. A pressure sensor detects pressure and converts it into an electric signal whose amount varies with the pressure applied. A pressure transducer consists of a pressure-sensitive element that can measure, detect or monitor the pressure being applied and electronic components to convert the information into an electrical output signal.

As we know, pressure is the amount of force applied to an area. In pressure sensors, piezoresistive technology is used, in which a piezoresistive element alters its electrical resistance in response to pressure.

Pressure Sensor Applications

Industrial applications rely heavily on pressure sensors to control processes and maintain quality. The industrial markets encompass a wide range of applications, ranging from very low vacuum and extremely low pressure to high pressure

The following represent a sample of the applications where pressure sensors are currently being used.

  • Energy conservation –  To achieve greater energy conservation, accurate pressure sensor measurements are needed in portable and stationary weather stations, testing devices for diesel truck emissions, wind energy systems, etc.
  • Automotive applications – Passenger safety depends heavily on hydraulic brakes in automobiles. It takes a complex combination of elements, such as pressure sensors, to control a vehicle with its brakes. Pressure can be monitored within braking system chambers to alert the driver and engine management system if it becomes too low to work properly.
  • Medical applications – Drugs are often delivered in liquid form. Infusion pumps typically deliver these fluids intravenously, subcutaneously, or directly into veins. Sensors, including gauges and differential pressure sensors, are used by the pumps to ensure the correct amount of fluid is administered at the right rate.

Difference between a Pressure Transducer and Pressure Switch

Often referred to as a pressure transmitter, a pressure transducer converts pressure into an analog electrical signal. In contrast to a transducer, a pressure switch only triggers at a specific set pressure. Depending on the set pressure, a circuit can be engaged or disengaged. 

pressure switch and transducer

The most common misconception about pressure transducers and pressure switches is that they are the same, but they serve very different purposes. Despite the fact that both types measure pressure, pressure transducers have continuous outputs that are usually connected to a controller that monitors and responds to pressure. In contrast, a pressure switch is a simpler device and does not provide continuous output. Just like a light switch, it has an on/off function. Pressure switches are designed to open or close a circuit when the pressure rises or falls within a system.

What kind of sensor do I need?

Transducers and switches are used in different applications. The use of switches is widespread in vehicles as a way of indicating low engine oil pressure, as well as in gas compressors with an automatic shutoff feature. A transducer is capable of providing much more information than just confirming if a value has been reached. A transducer is beneficial in critical areas and industrial applications that require high precision, feedback and control, alarm conditions, and trending information for a control system. 

Despite the fact that pressure switches and sensors appear to accomplish the same goal at first glance, their methods of achieving it are entirely different. Meanwhile, pressure transducers on the other hand are used for more sophisticated purposes such as monitoring, predictive analysis, or process control. 

Need some advice on pressure sensors?

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