Any technology or equipment with the word Digital is automatically viewed as superior compared to something that is Analog. While this may largely be true, analog technology forms the basis of all industrial equipment, and still finds several valuable applications.
Panel Meters are vital components for any industrial plant. They are used in conjunction with a sensor that transmits a signal, whose value is then displayed. When people hear about digital panel meters, they can easily envision a numeric display while analog meters elicit a gauge.
Digital Panel Meters
As stated earlier, these panel meters have numeric displays and are compatible with digital signal inputs, which consist of a series of discrete steps. These panel meters are a viable solution when the signal varies slightly over a large range. In addition to providing an indication of the machine and process conditions, they also have a number of other features as well, such as alarms and relay outputs. Surely, these make digital meters very resourceful, but at the same time costly.
A digital panel meter is recommended in situations where a precise reading is required, such as that with an accuracy of 0.05 percent. As stated earlier, they also incorporate control features as well as communication functions that allow the data to be used for other purposes as well. Modern digital panel meters’ features are only limited by imagination, including real-time control, signal conversion, wireless communication and so on.
These panels are also ideal when it comes to filtering out noisy signals and extracting useful information.
Analog Panel Meters
An analog panel meter’s needle tracks changes within a continuous signal. This means that smoothing values is a hassle in these panels, sending the meter’s needle dancing around if noise becomes excessive. Still, analog panel meters are accepted and used in the industry. A similar application is one that requires keeping track of voltage pulsing. An analog meter’s needle may swing back and forth, but this can give the operator a clear idea of the range, but in comparison, a digital meter’s display will fluctuate making it difficult to know the range.
Analog meters are simpler and thus cheaper than their digital counterparts. They don’t require external power and have an accuracy of about 2 percent. The input signals are usually AC/DC voltage or current, while there are special variants that are capable of displaying multiple readings with different scales.
Due to absence of digital capabilities, analog meters do not require programming or long-term maintenance since there is no software to keep track of, or communication cables to look after.
It can be seen that simplicity and lack of features in an analog meter constitutes for its strength, giving machine builders an alternative for non-complex applications. On the other hand, if an application requires advanced monitoring, control and logging functionalities, then one can always turn towards digital panel meters.