Pressure is the second most common process measurement, after temperature, in industrial and commercial applications. Even around the house, when inflating a tire or checking the status of a boiler system, accurately and immediately knowing the pressure is of importance. Pressure gauges are the simplest, most direct way of measuring and displaying pressure. While other pressure measurement devices such as sensors, transmitters and transducers convert pressure into an electrical signal to be sent to a controller, recorder, or another type of data-acquisition device, pressure gauges are meant to be a local display showing, at a glance, the pressure inside your fire extinguisher, tires, boiler, pressure cooker, or an important process in an industrial setting.
Pressure is defined as the amount of force applied over a unit area. Usually involving liquids and gases, pressure is a critical component of a diverse array of applications, both those that rely on accurate pressure control as well as those that derive other values (such as depth/level or flow) based upon pressure.
Pressure measurements can be made in a number of units. Most commonly, we see PSI ( pounds per square inch) or bar. Other units of measure include kg/cm2, inH2O, mmHg, Pa, and many others.
There are also different types of pressure to consider. The type of pressure refers to the zero reference point of a measurement. For example:
Gauge pressure: The pressure gauge is referenced against atmospheric pressure so it does not include the effects of that pressure making it equal to absolute pressure minus ambient air pressure. Sealed gauge sensors may use a fixed pressure different than ambient atmospheric temperature.
Absolute pressure: The pressure gauge is referenced against a perfect vacuum so it, therefore, includes the effects of atmospheric pressure. It is equal to gauge pressure plus atmospheric pressure.
Differential pressure: The pressure gauge contains two process connections to measure the difference between two pressures, such as each side of a filter to measure pressure drop.
Pressure Gauge Technology
Pressure gauges are fairly simple devices though there are many considerations that go into selecting the best instrument for your particular application. The most obvious difference, when looking at pressure gauges, is that some are digital while others are analog. While they fulfil the same basic role, analog and digital gauges use different technology and excel under different conditions.
Analog pressure gauges, often referred to as mechanical gauges, use a needle that points to a number on a scale corresponding to the pressure sensed by the measuring element. Analog pressure gauges are found everywhere as they provide an accurate, inexpensive option that requires no power and little, if any, maintenance.
Analog gauges can be tailored to fit nearly any application. They can be accurate enough to use as test gauges, reliable enough for use in complex process environments, rugged enough for industrial use, and inexpensive enough for commercial use.
Most analog gauges rely on either of two measurement principles:
Bourdon Tube: Gauges with bourdon tubes are the most common type of analog gauges in use. Bourdon tubes rely on the principle that a curved tube tends to straighten out when subjected to pressure. The tube is connected to a pointing device so that subtle movements due to pressure fluctuations are indicated on pressure calibrated scale on the dial.
Bourdon tube pressure gauges work very well for most applications, particularly those involving medium to very high pressures. They are simple in construction, which keeps them inexpensive and easy to use. Bourdon tubes also offer superior linearity and can be accurate up to ±0.1% making them suitable for precision measurements.
Bourdon tube pressure gauges also have limitations, though. They lack the sensitivity for highly accurate readings at low pressures and can be also be sensitive to shocks and vibration as well as subject to hysteresis. Bourdon tubes can also respond slowly, so applications involving rapid pressure fluctuations are not ideal. Also, like all analog gauges, Bourdon tubes cannot make absolute pressure measurements nor are they particularly adept at precision measurements.
Bellows: Bellows gauges are a great solution when measuring pressure ranges below what is ideal for Bourdon tube gauges. Bellows gauges contain an elastic element that radially expands and contracts to respond to pressure changes. The internal bellows is connected to a pointing device so that subtle movements due to pressure fluctuations are indicated on pressure calibrated scale on the dial.
Bellows gauges excel in low pressure applications and have the accuracy and sensitivity for precise measurement. Additionally, bellows gauges are rugged and reliable with low hysteresis and creep. Like Bourdon tubes, bellows gauges are sensitive to vibration and shock.
Analog gauges are widespread for a reason, they offer accuracy across wide range at a good price. Though they cannot match the features of digital gauges, analog gauges are often available with temperature compensation for greater accuracy, liquid fill to dampen movement of the pointer, multiple dial sizes to improve visibility and space requirements.
Digital pressure gauges use advanced sensors and microprocessors to display highly accurate pressure readings on a digital indicator. Though generally more expensive than analog gauges, digital gauges offer a number of features that make them attractive alternatives for a number of applications.
Digital gauges provide quick and easy to read results. Rather than having to count hashes to read the pressure, digital gauges provide resolutions of up to 0.01 or 0.001 making them ideal for very low pressures or small incremental pressure changes, such as those found when leak testing, that would be impossible to identify with an analog gauge.
Digital pressure gauges have fewer moving parts than analog gauges making them more reliable. Simple to operate, they nonetheless can be programmed for multiple pressure units and include outputs for sending results to a computer, data logger, or other instrument for storage or analysis.
Most digital pressure gauges rely on one of two measurement technologies:
Strain gauge: Strain gauge sensors rely on the piezoresistive effect which describes changes in the electrical resistivity of a semiconductor or metal—commonly silicon, polysilicon thin film, bonded metal foil, thick film, or sputtered thin film—when mechanical strain (pressure) is applied. Most commonly this technology consist of a diaphragm with patterned metallic strain gauge embedded into it. Increasing pressure causes the diaphragm, and subsequently, the gauge to deform which effects it’s resistivity. That change is measured and converted into an electrical signal proportional to the pressure. Generally, strain gauges are connected to form a Wheatstone bridge circuit to maximize the output of the sensor and to reduce sensitivity to errors.
Piezoelectric: Piezoelectric sensors rely on the piezoelectric effect in certain materials such as quartz to measure the strain upon the sensing mechanism due to pressure. As pressure is applied a charge develops across the sensor in proportion to the force.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Pressure Gauge:
- What is the type and range of the pressure?
- Is an output required? If so, which type?
- What accuracy is required?
- What units of measurement are preferred?
- Which process connection is required?
- Are there any issues with material compatibility or chemical resistance?
- What is the temperature range? Is compensation needed?
- What burst pressure is required?
- Are any agency approvals needed?
- What is the preferred dial size?
If you have any questions regarding pressure gauges please don't hesitate to speak with one of our engineers by e-mailing us at [email protected] or calling 1-800-884-4967.
Pressure Gauge Readings in psi for Industrial and Processing Applications
Pressure gauge readings come in a variety of international units. In most of North America, psi (pounds per square inch) is the standard unit of pressure measurement. Industrial processes and scientific laboratories rely on gauges reading in psi to measure relative pressure (psi or psig), absolute pressure (psia), and differential pressure (psid).
Gauges readings in psi come in a variety of models and can be applied to all industrial and process applications. The majority of gauges reading in psi are sold and used in the U.S. and Canada. Most other regions around the globe use gauges reading in metric units such as bar, kPa, MPa, and kg/cm2, to just name a few.
Types of Pressure Gauges
Industrial gauges come in both analog and digital versions. Analog pressure gauges use a Bourdon tube, diaphragm element, capsule element, or magnetic piston for sensing pressure. Digital pressure gaugesrely on thin-film technology or a diaphragm.
There are three main types of industrial gauges:
Standard pressure gauge
Model 111.12 Bourdon tube pressure gauge with gauge reading in psi
The Bourdon tube is the most common sensing element for gauges that measure gauge pressure relative to atmospheric pressure. The smallest pressure range for Bourdon tubes is 10 psi (0.6 bar). For very low pressure ranges (< 10 psi or 0.6 bar) and for gaseous media, the capsule or bellows sensing element is commonly used. Also for low pressure ranges, but for liquids and aggressive media as well, a diaphragm element is the better choice.
In most cases, a standard pressure gauge is reading the total pressure minus the atmospheric pressure. In other words, a pressure gauge reading relative pressure is always exposed to atmospheric pressure and reads zero at atmospheric pressure. This pressure can be either positive or negative (vacuum), depending on the pressure as it relates to atmospheric pressure.
The unit for a pressure gauge reading relative pressure is psi (pounds per square inch) or psig (pounds per square inch gauge). “Gauge pressure” is another way of saying “relative pressure,” and most manufacturers use the term “psi” rather than “psig.” WIKA USA offers a complete line of standard gauges reading in psi, with a wide variety of models designed to meet the needs of many industries and applications.
Absolute pressure gauge
An absolute pressure gaugeoperates with the same technology as standard pressure gauges. The difference is that zero is referenced against a perfect vacuum, which is constant, instead of the ambient atmosphere, which changes depending on weather conditions and altitude. Absolute pressure gauge readings are used in applications that require non-variable values, and those instruments include altimeters and barometers.
In food processing applications, absolute pressure gauges are used to monitor the performance of high-end vacuum pumps to ensure that perishable items are sufficiently sealed. The unit of a pressure gauge reading absolute pressure is psia(pounds per square inch absolute). WIKA offers several models of absolute pressure gauges for industrial and scientific use.
Differential pressure gauge
A differential pressure gauge measures and calculates the difference between two applied pressures. Differential pressure can be used to measure:
- The pressure drop across an orifice
- The level of liquid gases in sealed vessels
- The pressure drop across a filter
For example, by monitoring pressure on both sides of an air filter or water filter, operators can detect whether the filter is dirty (when the differential pressure reaches a critical threshold) and needs to be replaced. Because of their high quality and robust design, tens of thousands of WIKA differential pressure gauges are found today in refineries, processing plants, and medical facilities around the globe.
WIKA USA is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial pressure instruments, and customers trust our reliable and cost-effective pressure products to get the job done. Contact our pressure specialists for expert advice on industrial psi pressure gauges and to determine which measuring device is right for your application.
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Aqualine 0-200 PSI Pressure Gauge
FHT Pressure Gauge, 0 - 200 PSI
Use this female hose thread connection pressure gauge to measure your system pressure at the hose bibb or any hose thread connection. Rated up to 200 PSI available in liquid (glycerin) filled or dry models.
Both liquid (glycerin) filled and dry gauges are very dependable, however in damp conditions, dry gauges may be susceptible to moisture or condensation building inside the gauge that over time may cause corrosion. Liquid filled are exempt from this condition as the non-aqueous liquid protects the components. Although, if being installed in a permanent application, it is best installed in an upright orientation as it has an atmospheric vent to adjust to changes in atmospheric conditions allowing for more accurate readings.
|Scale||Single scale PSI||Single scale PSI|
|Case||Black Steel||Stainless Steel|
|Wetted Parts||Copper Alloy||Copper Alloy|
|Bezel||Black Steel||Stainless Steel|
|Socket & Connection||Copper Alloy||Copper Alloy|
|Movement||Copper Alloy||Copper Alloy|
|Dial & Needle||Aluminum Finish||Aluminum Finish|
- Dry - Pressure testing of residential and commercial piping systems; Utility water test gauge with horizontal housing
- Liquid - Fluid medium that will not clog connection port; pneumatic systems, compressors, compressed air systems; high vibration applications
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Gauge psi pressure
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