11 July 2012

What to look for when buying a sensor

This blog is written by one of newest members of the Apogee team. Schuyler Smith is a recent graduate of Utah State University, with his Bachelor of Science. He has taken up the post of Calibration Technician within the Quality Control Calibration Department. 

What to look for when buying a sensor.

 Many first time customers visit our website wondering if our sensors will fit their application. Answering this question is complex because we have many sensors and multiple options for each sensor. I have compiled this list of things to consider in order to customers narrow down their search when shopping for a sensor.

1. What are you trying to measure?
This seems like a counterintuitive question and yet important to consider. For example customer support emails come in with something like, “I am looking for a sensor to measure the amount of photosynthetically active radiation in water/air. Do you have something that will work?” We are then able to direct them to our line of quantum sensors. Knowing what you want to measure is extremely important in finding the most appropriate sensor for the application.

2. Where is the sensor going to be placed?
Customers are often looking for the cheapest product and may not take into account the wear and tear of their application. Be sure to consider the ruggedness and material compatibility of the sensor when considering placing it 20 meters below the surface of the Dead Sea (or wherever your location may be). I might also add at this point that while Apogee sensors are listed at a particular cable length, we would be more than happy to customize the length to your specification (even up to 100’s of meters on some models. Call for details.)

3. How often will I need to recalibrate it?
Many manufacturers provide information on the need to recalibrate their sensors. Some give a specific timeline, while others may just provide expected outputs that can be compared to your own data to determine if a recalibration is necessary. For more information on the recommended recalibrating interval, please see the blog on this topic (reference the blog here).

 4. What other maintenance will the sensor require?
Some sensors require a wipe down or cleaning to remove dust and debris that affect data. Some sensors are designed to be self-cleaning so that water and dirt rinses off of them.

 5. What is the cost of the sensor?
This can be one of the easiest or hardest questions when considering which sensor to get because the cost analysis should go beyond just the sticker price. Does the importance of the data outweigh the monetary cost? Is getting a more expensive sensor with higher accuracy worth the more money for my application? Is the time cost of setting up the sensor included in the cost analysis?

These are just a few points to consider when buying a new sensor. Our team at Apogee is standing by to answer any questions regarding our products and their practicality in your unique application. We can point you in the right direction even if we’re unable to meet your specific application needs.


Schuyler Smith

Calibration Technician

1 comment: