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What Does Pressure Transducer Really Mean?

A pressure transducer is technically a sensor without an amplified signalYou have (probably often) heard the term “pressure transducer” used interchangeably with a few other terms, such as “pressure transmitter” and “pressure sensor”. So what does pressure transducer really mean? How is it different than the other terms so loosely tossed about?

Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that there are many contextual uses that have developed and are commonplace now. We’ll point those out as best as we can while we journey through the maze of interconnected terminology.

What Is A Pressure Sensor?

A pressure sensor is a general term used to describe an instrument that can detect and/or measure pressure. Along with “pressure instrument”, this is the broadest of terms.

We don’t make pressure switches, but even they are technically considered pressure sensors. It’s worth pointing out that when we use the term, we’re referring to a continuous measurement instrument outputting a signal that is calibrated to a particular unit of measure on a specific scale (e.g. 0-500 psi).

What Is A Pressure Transducer?

When an engineer refers to a pressure transducer, he or she will often use the term in a certain context:

You may hear the term used as the group of sensing elements inside a sensor (i.e. the Wheatstone bridge, the gage that holds it, and the diaphragm to which it is attached).

You may also hear pressure transducer referred to as the whole sensor – but without signal magnification. In other words, a sensor with a millivolt output. This is probably the most technically accurate definition – though it may not be how it is most often used.

Or, you may hear it in place of “pressure sensor”, used in the most general sense. This is typically how we use it in general communication. It may sound a little complicated, but it’s usually easy to determine the context in which pressure transducer is used. For example, if the discussion is about different types of pressure sensors, then “pressure transducer” will likely refer to a sensor without signal amplification.

What Is A Pressure Transmitter?

Just like “pressure transducer”, the term transmitter is often used contextually. However, it will refer to either a pressure sensor in the general sense, or it will be used more accurately.

A pressure transmitter is really a sensor that has signal amplification. The signal is boosted and conditioned to a range, such as 4-20mA. This way, the signal can travel longer distances and is less susceptible to signal degradation.

Transmitter refers specifically to the capability of transmitting an amplified signal.

So What Does This Mean For Me?

What this really means is that you’ll need to pay some attention to how terminology is used. If you need a pressure transmitter and you buy something called a pressure transducer expecting it to be the same, realize that it may not be. We’re confident that you’ll be able to tell the difference. Taking a close look at the specifications will ensure you don’t make that mistake.

There are a few other terms used to describe a pressure transducer (sensor). Some refer to the form factor – like “stick transducer”. But these are the most common. Let us know if you have any questions about our pressure sensors and their various descriptions and specifications.


Ready to learn more about pressure transducers? The best way is to do some digging to see what they're all about. Check out our awesome pressure transducers below:

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