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Why Pressure Transducers Are The Best Remote Tank Level Sensors

remote storage tank in alaskaMany tanks, so it seems, are at the edge of existence. They make their home in the scorching desert, the frozen tundra, in the middle of cornfields, or on a steep mountain slope. While these landscapes may be breathtaking, they certainly don’t make sensor deployment easy or cheap.

And even if your tanks are city dwellers, you still don’t want to get unnecessarily spendy on your telemetry. That’s why a pressure transducer is the ideal choice.

Pressure transmitters are one of the least expensive technologies in the continuous level measurement world, and they’re ideally suited for remote tanks because they work so well with batteries.

One way to save money on the installation of a level sensor on a remote tank is to go totally wireless. That means wireless communications and wireless power supply, or batteries. So choosing a sensor that plays nice on battery power is essential.

There are two reasons a pressure sensor performs well with batteries:

  • Low current draw
  • Fast response time
Let’s take a look at each to understand why they’re so critical.

Current Draw

In order to work well with batteries, your level transmitter needs to draw very little current. This is tough for a lot of sensors. Many sensors rely on a transmitted pulse of some kind. Ultrasonic sensors have to excite a sonic transducer. Radar sensors must produce microwaves. Magnetostrictive transmitters send electrical pulses down a wire. The list goes on.

However, a pressure transducer simply routes the current through its Wheatstone Bridge and measures the change in resistance. This inherently requires less power, and improves battery life substantially.

Response Time

The problem of having to transmit a pulse or wave that many continuous level sensors face is longer response times. It takes time for those pulses to come back to the sensor, and even more time to receive enough of them to qualify a level reading.

Time is a battery’s enemy. The more time the sensor has to be powered on, the faster power is drained from the battery.

In contrast, a pressure transmitter doesn’t have to wait for a returning pulse or wave. It takes only a few milliseconds to qualify and transmit a level measurement.

Power Management

The fact is most of the tank farm owners and engineers we talk to are demanding 3-5 years of battery life. We achieve that by working with our partners who carry impressive batteries and communication equipment, and by carefully managing when the sensor takes a measurement.

The goal is to program your sensors to come on at a certain interval, take a measurement and transmit it, and then turn off. This is the only way to make a battery last much longer than a month or so.

Mating the right sensor with this strategy can give you a battery life of several years – varying only on how often you choose to take a measurement.

Using a pressure sensor, whether it’s a submersible or externally mounted pressure transducer, usually makes the most sense. They’re usually accurate enough, and work reliably for many years. Add that with improved battery life and you have a winning combination.

Contact us if you have any questions about pressure transmitters, battery powered sensors, or remote tank level monitoring.


Need to monitor your remote storage tanks with a wireless sensor? Our PT-500 series submersible pressure transducer is a perfect fit with low current draw and lightning fast response time (it also happens to be the best submersible on the market). Find out about our PT-500 series below:

top photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via flickr cc

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