As you may already know, there is a plethora of fuel tank level sensor technologies on the market. To say that one is better than all the rest would be rash as each fuel level measurement application has its own unique set of challenges. However, when considering factors such as environmental obstacles, chemical compatibility, and pricing, one sensor technology appears to rise above the rest.
In general, using pressure sensors for fuel tank level measurement is the best option available.
Round 1: Pressure vs. Ultrasonic
Among the most popular fuel tank level sensors are ultrasonic sensors. This is because they are easy to install, inexpensive, and do not come in contact with the fuel. However, many fuels, such as gasoline, give off thick vapors. This makes it difficult for ultrasonic sensors to provide reliable readings.
Pressure transducers, meanwhile, are not affected by vapors or other environmental obstacles that create issues for ultrasonic sensors. Furthermore, pressure sensors are inexpensive and just as easy to install as ultrasonic sensors.
Stick with an ultrasonic fuel tank level sensor when you don't have to worry about vapors. Deisel is a great example.
Round 2: Pressure vs. Level Probes
Like pressure transmitters, level probes are not affected by thick vapors - making them a great fuel tank level sensor. The technology is simple and relies only on the rise and fall of the float. Level probes are very reliable and offer excellent accuracy.
However, the problem with level probes is logistics. They require a lot of work to transport and install. Quite often, you will need to transport these probes in long crates and then use heavy equipment to get them installed. Pressure sensors, on the other hand, can be shipped in a small box and are very easy to install.
Go with a good level probe when you need very high accuracy. Magnetostrictive fuel tank level sensors are accurate up to ±4mm.
Round 3: Pressure vs. Radar
Radar level sensors are immune to most environmental challenges that come with fuel tank level measurement. Furthermore, they offer the benefits of non-contact technology as ultrasonic sensors do. Radar sensors are easy to transport and install.
What makes pressure transducers more desirable, even over radar, is the cost. A rugged and reliable pressure sensor for fuel tank level measurement will cost you a few hundred dollars. A radar level sensor on the other hand will cost you a few thousand dollars. So if you can avoid using radar, you will save a lot of money.
When you need a non-contact fuel level sensor in a vaporous environment then you'll be forced to choose a radar sensor. This is one of the most expensive level sensor technologies on the market, so consider it a last resort.
If you have any questions on using pressure sensors for fuel tank level measurement, please give us a call and we will be glad to help.