April 17, 2023
Wireless Temperature Monitoring: Everything You Need to Know
Temperature monitoring is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is a major aspect of many different businesses. These include hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories, food services, and various chemical manufacturing, to name a few.
These businesses rely on accurate temperature monitoring to ensure the integrity and safety of their products. Failing to do so could endanger products and cost your business thousands of dollars (or more) in lost sales or regulatory fines.
With temperature monitoring, information is key. Detecting fluctuations or irregularities allows you to quickly address any potential problems. Wireless temperature monitoring can help you do so more effectively.
The information below lays out everything you need to know about the benefits of wireless temperature monitoring. Keep reading to find out how these technological innovations might allow you to compile and access the information it needs. It also can help you improve your ability to regulate the temperature in sensitive environments.
Most people think of temperature in simple terms: how hot or cold something is. To physicists, temperature is a measure of kinetic energy, or the “energy of movement.”
When a substance is heated, its particles absorb some of the heat energy, but the energy also increases the motion of the particles. Going in the other direction, when a substance is cooled, its particles slow down. In fact, it is believed that if a substance were to reach absolute zero (-275℃), it would lack all energy (which is why it may not be achievable).
Temperature is measured using three different degrees. Celsius is used in most of the world for describing the weather, human body temperature, cooking, and other day-to-day situations. In the United States and a few other locations, Fahrenheit is the preference. Kelvin is used in cases of extreme heat or cold, and usually in scientific environments.
What Is Wireless Temperature Monitoring?
Wireless temperature monitoring uses sensors that send temperature data to a centralized system. You can use it in a variety of settings. These include homes; businesses; manufacturing plants; laboratories; clinics and hospitals; or the food production or service industry.
Wireless temperature monitoring systems can range in size, scope, and price. They can use computer software or phone applications, or have their own self-contained programs and monitors that do not require external software or hardware. The type of wireless monitoring system that is best for your business depends on your unique industry needs.
Types of Wireless Monitoring Systems
There are many different types of monitoring systems today. The main differences come in their connectivity, software, and sensor capabilities.
By their nature, wireless temperature monitoring systems need a wireless means for transmitting information. The most common type is through a Wi-Fi connection.
A big benefit of this setup is that it ensures real-time relaying of data, rather than devices storing information for later download. It also means you can access the information from almost any location.
Some systems use Bluetooth capabilities, usually in addition to (rather than in place of) Wi-Fi connections. These are most common in smaller areas where data does not need to be sent long distances to a central monitor or computer.
There also are monitoring systems that use cellular signals for transmitting signals. This can be particularly useful for applications where Wi-Fi is not readily available.
Finally, some systems rely on their own connection signals to send data. These are often some type of radio frequency. This can be beneficial for heightened security, where you do not want sensitive information accessible via the internet.
Note that most wireless temperature monitoring systems include some type of encryption and other safety measures. This makes them secure, regardless of the method of data transmission.
Wireless temperature monitoring systems come with different software configurations. Some can integrate with other monitoring programs or rely on separate software for accessing data.
Many wireless temperature monitoring systems have their own operating systems that require no external software. These can still be cloud-based, and offer the other benefits of remote monitoring and notifications, but can also be used as stand-alone devices. This also can offer heightened security, since there are no external programs accessing the data.
The other major distinction among wireless temperature monitoring systems is the sensors. There are three main types to consider, and each has its own distinct advantages and a few drawbacks. Here are some assets (and deficits) to consider.
Thermocouples are temperature sensors that generate a voltage that is proportionate to the temperature difference between two metal components. They are often used in a variety of industrial, engineering, and scientific settings and can measure a wide range of temperatures.
Thermocouples work by measuring electromotive force. This is the voltage generated when two distinct metals join together at two separate points. This is commonly known as the Seeback Effect.
One of the biggest advantages of thermocouples is that you can use them in very high or low temperatures, as well as in demanding environments. For instance, some can measure up to 4,200℉ and as low as -450℉, which can surpass the limits of many other types of sensors. They also have a very fast response time, which can be important in certain applications.
In general, thermocouple sensors are very durable. They are self-powered, so they do not need an electrical source to operate (although this may not be the case with wireless sensors that rely on this method). They also have a simple design, which makes them inexpensive.
There are some drawbacks to thermocouples as well. They are not as accurate as other types of sensors, including resistance and temperature detectors. That is because they can experience “temperature drift” over time. This is where, for the same given physical quantity being measured, the sensor output varies at different temperatures.
Thermocouples are less linear than other types of sensors. Linearity reflects the ability of a sensor to respond to changes in a measured variable across a wide range of temperatures. Also, while rugged, if thermocouples are not insulated properly, they may be susceptible to corrosion over time.
Thermistors are electronic components used to measure temperature. They function in a similar way to thermocouples: by using resistance to determine temperature.
There are two types of thermistors. Negative temperature coefficient thermistors have a resistance that decreases as temperature increases. Positive temperature coefficient thermistors have a resistance that goes up with increased temperature.
Thermistors are ideal for sensing controlled applications. These include many home thermostats and thermometers, but they are used in some industrial or medical settings as well.
They are usually very small and are highly sensitive. This has the advantage of a quick response time, but the drawback of them working better over a smaller temperature range. (I.e., they become less accurate in situations with more dramatic temperature swings.)
Like thermocouples, thermistors are nonlinear. This too makes them less suitable for large temperature ranges.
They also are more fragile than both thermistors and resistance temperature detectors. Finally, they are more susceptible than other sensors to errors related to self-heating.
Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTDs)
Resistance temperature detectors use a thin metal wire that has a predictable alteration in electrical resistance. This measures temperature relative to these changes. Most RTDs use platinum, nickel, or copper to achieve readings.
RTDs are very common in a variety of industrial uses. These include chemical plants; petroleum and chemical refineries; power generation facilities; and HVAC systems. RTDs are also found in many scientific research and aerospace applications.
RTDs are extremely stable and linear, which gives them a broad application. Across the board, they are more accurate than other sensors, including thermocouples and thermistors.
RTDs do need an electrical source, which is usually not an issue for most applications. They are self-heating, which can have a small impact on the environment in which they are monitoring. A final drawback is that they can be much more expensive than other sensors, although their capabilities can more than make up for the extra cost.
Benefits of Wireless Temperature Monitoring Solutions
Wireless temperature monitoring systems offer several benefits over the most sophisticated wired ones. Here are two major areas to consider.
Wireless sensors are easy to set up, as you can mount the sensor in any location. This is convenient, but it also makes them less likely to interfere with the monitored environment.
You can also place them in locations where wired sensors may not reach or where the wiring would disrupt the space. This might include coming into contact with the stored materials or being a tripping hazard for personnel. They also are more transportable—relocating them requires little effort or time.
Finally, some wireless temperature tracking systems can be integrated with other environmental monitoring devices. These can include sensors for tracking humidity and differential pressure. You can couple them with devices to track the presence of oxygen, carbon dioxide, or other gases in the environment.
Remote monitoring can be a huge plus for many businesses and industries. It can reduce or eliminate the need for frequent checks on the system. This can translate to serious time savings for your staff and associated costs.
Wireless monitoring systems can be much more cost effective than traditional ones. They do not require installing wiring or special infrastructure for setup.
The best wireless temperature monitoring systems also incorporate the most up-to-date sensors and other equipment. This is especially important for businesses that demand precise degree readings in their heated or cooled environments.
Being able to access historical data allows you to drill down on fluctuations and determine the causes. This can help you develop solutions for creating a more stable temperature in the environment. It is a good way to help put in place the best temperature monitoring practices in your office, warehouse, or laboratory.
Precision and improved performance can not only help you ensure the integrity of your product but meet regulatory standards for your industry. This includes FDA guidelines for pharmaceutical, scientific laboratory, and food safety. This also can help you avoid a potential shutdown or subsequent fines for failing to do so.
Going with a cloud-based wireless temperature monitoring system can yield huge advantages. The ability of your staff to monitor the system from anywhere has many benefits.
Remote staff can use it to document temperature changes or write reports. Staff can receive alerts on temperature fluctuations outside a prescribed range.
It can give you the peace of mind that the environment you are monitoring is within the needed temperature range. It also frees up staff from having to regularly check the environment for temperature changes.
Wireless monitoring systems also have diverse applications. While they are typically used for measuring air temperature, you can use them to measure equipment as well, or the surface of almost any device or component.
This is also the case for monitoring the temperature of solutions, such as vaccines or other pharmaceutical products. Wireless monitors might come equipped with probes that you can insert directly into vials. This allows you to get a more accurate reading of the contents (versus the temperature of the surrounding environment).
Choosing the Best Wireless Monitoring System
Choosing the right monitoring system depends on your unique application needs and goals. Consider the number of sensors you need and the range of the wireless system.
You also should look at the capabilities of the monitoring software and the reputation of the manufacturer. Their willingness to provide support, including calibration services, can be valuable. It can go a long way toward keeping your system running with efficiency and precision.
Also, a reputable manufacturer can further advise you on the right equipment and system for your particular needs. This can help you identify the capabilities you need while not paying for those that are unnecessary.
Find the Best Wireless Temperature Monitoring Solutions
Now that you understand the basics of wireless temperature monitoring, you can find a system that meets your needs. These innovations can help you get the information you need and make improvements that ensure the integrity of your products.
We hope you found this wireless temperature monitoring advice helpful. Since 2005, SensoScientific has been providing companies all over the world with environmental monitoring systems.
We offer a range of products and services—including calibration and 24/7 support—to ensure our clients meet regulatory standards. Reach out to us today to learn more or request a quote online.