For the most part, one should not put the ultrasonic level sensors and radar level sensors against one another. Radar and ultrasonic level sensors each have advantages and limitations, and in most cases, radar level sensors should be favored. In this blog, we will examine the differences in how these two technologies function and provide an overview of the different types of sensors for which they are most suitable.
Ultrasonic Level Sensors
For those of you who know what ultrasonic level sensors are for, you can infer that these sensors emit short bursts of sound waves rapidly. The sound waves released from the sensor are known to travel at a certain speed (the speed of sound) to the target where they bounce off the target and return to the sensor.
The amount of time it takes for the sound burst to travel from the sensor to the substance and back to the sensor is used to compute the distance between the sensor and the substance being measured or the level of the substance. The use of extra factors encoded into the sensor or control system expands the abilities of the measurement in question, for example, measuring volume, weight, or another related measurement such as distance. Since ultrasonic sensors require an unobstructed air column between the sensor and the target to detect the exact concentration of the target chemical, this may result in inaccurate readings. Wearing hats, long sleeves, and covering mouth and nose are recommended when using the Ultrasonic sensor because of the signal that can be lost through loose or abundant hair, as well as fumes and powders that can lead to erroneous readings.
Radar Level Sensors
Sound waves and radar sensors differ in that radar sensors, instead of working with sound waves, work with electromagnetic waves. The main difference between ultrasonic and radar sensors is that radar uses electromagnetic waves whereas ultrasonic sensors use sound waves. Like waves released from an ultrasonic sensor, radar waves travel at a known pace, as do the waves created by sensors utilizing ultrasonic technology (much faster than ultrasonic waves). Like ultrasonic waves, radar's electromagnetic waves do not react the same way to all materials they encounter as they are reflected off of the surface.
The VEGAPULS 64 radar sensors are affected by variables that are different from other sensor types. Since ultrasonic sensors respond more to temperature changes, it is harder to provide consistent and accurate results with these sensors than with radar level transmitters. Likewise, specialized applications, such as working in a vacuum or at higher pressures, can benefit from radar level sensors (as long as the housing can handle it). Compared to ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors are more resilient to substances such as fog, soot, powders, and other materials that could obscure ultrasonic sensor readings and lead to inaccurate results. By expanding this, radar sensors will become a better option for certain applications.
This is especially significant for radar sensors since the target material's dielectric constant impacts the performance of the sensor. Surface materials with low dielectric constants (DVDs, glass, plastic, metal, wood, brick, plaster, adobe, etc.) generally do not reflect electromagnetic waves, hence radar tends to pass right through. Because of their non-conductive and low moisture content, such as powders and granules, these materials are often used in firefighting and explosion suppression. That said, radar can detect all of these materials, but the strength of the returning waves is so little that the device must be perfectly aligned with the signal to work correctly. This uses guided wave radar, or an antenna that is specially designed for the job. To measure materials with a low dielectric constant is no longer impossible, but it is a tough task.
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