Types of Temperature Sensors

Types of Temperature Sensors

While there are many different types of temperature sensors, they serve one common purpose — measuring the heat fluctuations of a component. According to The Business Research Company, the temperature sensor market will reach $13.55 billion in 2028, indicating a strong reliance on this technology across industries.

By understanding the characteristics and functions of each temperature measurement sensor, you can find the right one for your operations. Learn more about the various types of temperature sensors to ensure your equipment and machinery run smoothly.

What Is a Temperature Sensor?

A temperature measurement sensor is a device that tracks the temperature changes in air, liquid and solids. It houses a temperature probe, which converts input data into electrical signals for readable measurements. Temperature sensors record measurements at regular intervals and often trigger an alarm if readings are beyond the scope of normalcy. By using a hardwire or wireless connection, temperature sensors connect with a company’s computer maintenance management systems (CMMS) for easy tracking.

Businesses rely on temperature sensors for various applications, such as:

  • Manufacturing: From fabricating parts to assembling products, manufacturing plants use multiple machines in their operations. Temperature sensors help to monitor the heat from machines for safer workplaces.
  • Medical: Life-saving equipment such as ventilators, ultrasound scanners and dialysis machines require temperature sensors for smooth operations.
  • Laboratory: Between manufacturing pharmaceuticals and ensuring optimal laboratory conditions, temperature sensors play a vital role in this industry.
  • Information technology: Computers generate heat during operation — temperature sensors help to prevent systems from overheating.
  • Food and Beverage: Temperature sensors track the temperature across food manufacturing, storage and transportation for optimal quality.

Different Types of Temperature Sensors

Temperature sensor technologies differ vastly to suit the many different applications. Use this overview of the five main types of temperature sensors to understand how they work and their relevant capabilities:

1. Thermocouples

Thermocouple temperature sensors commonly fall into two categories — base and noble metal types. Both variants consist of two contrastive wires that connect at two opposing points. The wires measure voltage, which correlates to temperature changes.

While the accuracy of thermocouples is slightly lower than other temperature sensors, they have a much wider temperature range. Base thermocouples reach up to 2,552 F, and noble metal types measure up to 5,432 F. In addition, they’re a cost-effective option for industrial, automotive and household applications.

Varying temperatures increase the likelihood of thermocouple deterioration. If you notice an open circuit, low electrical isolation or inconsistent results, schedule a professional calibration service. This will help ensure the accuracy of your results and increase your sensor’s life span.

2. Thermometers

One of the most recognizable temperature sensors is the thermometer. These devices measure the temperature of gas, liquid and solids, making them an effective option for numerous applications. The three core thermometer types measure temperature in the following ways:


  • Liquid or gas thermometers: When these thermometers come into contact with a heat source, the gas or liquid expands and moves the needle to the corresponding temperature reading.
  • Digital thermometers: These thermometers leverage a resistance temperature detector (RTD) or thermocouple to display digital readings.
  • Infrared thermometers: The thermometer lens focuses infrared light from an object onto a thermopile. The thermopile converts the infrared radiation into heat, allowing you to track the reading.

Thermometers — like all temperature sensors — need regular calibration to ensure accurate results. Each thermometer type will have different calibration requirements, but the process typically involves placing the device in a temperature-controlled area and accessing its readings. Professional calibration technicians will adjust its settings to ensure greater accuracy.

3. Resistance Temperature Detectors

As the name implies, resistance temperature detectors (RTDs) feature a resistance element. When the detector comes into contact with heat, the temperature increases, triggering a rise in electrical resistance. The sensor converts the electrical signals into readings.

RTDs consist of a film coupled with a glass or ceramic core encased in wire. They are on the higher end of the sensor pricing scale, yet they deliver exceptional accuracy across a temperature range of minus 382 F to 1,112 F.

4. Semiconductor-Based Sensors

Semiconductor-based sensors work in conjunction with integrated circuits. These temperature sensors house two congruent diodes with temperature-sensitive voltage and current capabilities.

Despite their slightly lower response rate, semiconductor-based sensors are a common choice in technology applications. For example, these sensors form part of navigation systems, mobiles, computers and more.

5. Negative Temperature Coefficient Thermistors

Just like RTDs, negative temperature coefficient (NTC) thermistors use resistance to reflect temperature. However, they follow a nonlinear process — as the temperature decreases, the restriction increases.

These sensors are most effective across a temperature range of minus 58 F to 212 F. Their construction of glass-covered polymer or ceramic makes them a cost-effective and accurate sensor for medical, environmental and aerospace applications.

Importance of a Temperature Sensor

By using temperature sensors to obtain accurate readings, businesses have more control over their operations. They can experience the following benefits:

  • Improved safety: Monitoring the heat of equipment enables businesses to react quickly to hazardous situations. Responding to potential dangers when they arise helps to ensure the safety of workers.
  • Energy savings: According to the Department of Energy, the industrial sector loses between 20% and 50% of total energy input. Measuring the temperature of your components helps you identify insulation opportunities for energy savings.
  • Equipment longevity: Repairing equipment on the onset helps to ensure a longer life span. High or low temperatures help businesses take fast corrective action.
  • Precise results: Outlying temperatures indicate malfunctioning equipment. In the medical context, poor-performing equipment could impact the success of the procedure. By frequently measuring the apparatus temperature, there is a higher level of accuracy across operations.
  • Efficiency: Stable temperatures help to improve each stage of the production process, enabling your team to meet targets and establish a reputable brand image.

Contact Garber Metrology to Calibrate Your Temperature Sensor

Contact Garber Metrology to Calibrate Your Temperature Sensor

Temperature sensors offer many benefits for your business, but only if they deliver accurate results. While choosing the right temperature sensor for your application offers better accuracy, you also need to ensure accurate calibration.

Garber Metrology provides a wide range of temperature calibration services that meet high-accuracy standards. We ensure this by selecting a team of professional technicians with extensive experience in calibrating thermometers, thermocouples and many other temperature sensors. We are ISO 9001 Registered by NQA and ISO/IEC 17025 and ANSI/NCSL Z540-1-1994 accredited by ANAB.

Whether you choose our in-house or on-site services, you can experience greater peace of mind using your temperature sensors. Contact our team today for more information and start experiencing the benefits of effect temperature sensors in your operations today!