Everything You Need To Know About Analog Panel Meter

Everything You Need To Know About Analog Panel Meter

There are various electrical machines and processes involved in delivering our energy requirements for all sorts of industrial, commercial, and residential applications. These processes rely on electrical control panels and switchgear control units, which are operated and supervised by operators and technicians. They rely on Panel meters that measure the numerous electrical parameters within these processes to ensure seamless operation and smooth supply of electricity. These devices can measure multiple parameters, such as current, voltage, energy, frequency, power factor, and temperature, and they are also seldom used to control such parameters.

Panel meters come in different shapes and sizes, which can be divided into two categories: analog and digital panel meters. Digital panel meters are generally more popular as they offer more modern advantages, in the same context as how digital watches provide more features than analog watches. Regardless, analog meters still have much usability as measuring devices, and also are preferred over digital for certain processes and applications We will look at everything you need to know about analog panel meters in this article.

Analog panel meters

Analog panel meters are a type of panel meter that measure electrical parameters and display them using a moving needle or pointer on a dial.

There are two mechanisms that enable the needle or pointer to measure.

  • Taut band
  • Pivot and Jewel

We will come back to these two mechanisms later in this article. 

These meters come in different sizes, but common sizes include 48x48mm, 72x72mm, and 96x96mm front view. They also come in different ranges for measurements and different units for the same parameter. 

While more accurate alternatives are suitable for modern situations, such as digital meters, analog panel meters are still helpful for specific situations, which will be discussed later in this article.

Typically, analog panel meters come up with basic additional features which help improve the user experience. Such as an anti-reflective glass that ensures less glare and enhances the reading and a mirror that ensures there is less parallax error, further improving readability.

Advantages of analog panel meters

While digital panel meters tend to have more advantages, there are some areas where analog meters are superior, which are:

Measuring Fluctuations

The main advantage analog meters offer and are still used regardless of modern alternatives is due to their ability to measure fluctuations and continuous variations, especially useful for measuring alternating current circuits. This can also be useful to determine any errors or faults in the circuit. Digital meters cannot do this as there is only a single display, and it takes time to get an idea of the fluctuation. In essence, the fluctuations give a better idea of what is happening in the circuit.

Don’t Require Batteries or Auxillary Supply

Another great advantage of analog meters is that you do not require an auxiliary power source or batteries to operate. This helps save costs. In addition, this makes them viable for projects where a battery source may not last long enough and for applications in remote locations. For instance, stand-alone solar plants in remote locations won’t generate any energy post-sunset or during cloudy weather. Using a digital meter would need a power supply or a battery if the solar array is not providing any power for the digital meter to operate. But analog meters will be able to work even in unconditional weather and indicate any live voltages and currents in the solar array. 

Long-lasting

Analog meters are incredibly durable and long-lasting, with examples of lifespan that can go up to 50 years. Even though anal meters have moving parts, they tend to last longer than digital meters because of the absence of microelectronics and LED/LCD screens that might go faulty due to reasons such as heat and quality of the product. 

Shows Wrong Polarity Error

It is common for panel meters to get hooked to the wrong polarity, which can result in your value being incorrect. Usually, with digital meters, you have to wait for the screen to indicate. With analog meters, however, you can detect the error when the needle begins to peg. This will notify you that there is an error.

Types of analog panel meters

There are mainly two types of analog panel meters that are used for measuring variables. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. These panel meter types are:

Taut Band Analog Meters

Taut band analog meters use a mechanism where the pointer or needle is suspended between two bands or ribbons made from metal. This ensures that the meter has higher sensitivity alongside reduced friction. In addition, this setup allows the analog meter to resist shocks, making them ideal for high vibration locations. These analog meters are most commonly used to measure direct current (DC) flows.

Pivot and Jewel Analog Meters

Pivot and jewel analog meters use a mechanism where the pointer or needle is suspended by a polished steel pivot and fitted into two jewel bearings. These analog meters are also highly resistant to shocks but are not suitable in situations where high accuracy and repeatability are required. As a result, pivot and jewel analog meters are more commonly used to measure alternating current (AC) flows where accuracy is not typically required, but rather the fluctuation is needed.

Factors to consider when selecting the suitable analog panel meter

Function

Analog meters are designed to measure a particular variable like current, voltage, and time. Therefore, you will have to choose the analog meter based on the variable you need to measure. If multiple variables need to be measured, you may have to get more than one or settle for a multimeter. For example, if you want to measure power, you can get a wattmeter such as an Analog Wattmeter provided by Eutroniks.

Mechanism Type

Another factor to consider is the mechanism of the analog meter you want, depending on your desired outcome. We have looked at both analog type meters in this article and seen that they can measure the same variables. However, the taut band meters are much more accurate in their readings, while pivot and jewel meters are ideal when you want to look at the variation. Additionally, it would be best to use taut band meters when measuring DC currents and pivot and jewel meters when measuring AC currents, as explained earlier. 

Channels

Analog meters offer options that allow you to get single or multiple channels. One channel meter will enable you to measure a single variable in only one unit. Multiple channels allow you to measure variables across single units or a single variable across numerous units. Therefore, if you want to measure only one variable with more accuracy, you could go with the latter. If this was a voltmeter, such as a Nippen AC voltmeter, it could have units like V and mV.

Face Type

Another thing you will want to consider is the face type of the analog meter. Face types are down to your preference and come in various styles, similar to analog watches. These face types include rectangular, round, standard, and edgewise styles. In addition, some of these come with different diameters, heights, and depths behind the glass panel, resulting in the scales being straight or curved with varying zero points. It would be best if you chose whichever one is easier for you to read off.

Range of Measurements

Analog meters typically have a range between which they can measure the variable. After all, there is limited space for the scale to be displayed on the analog panel. This means that you cannot measure values greater or below this range. This is why you should pick the analog panel by having a rough estimate of the values you expect to measure. For example, most ammeters have a range of 0-4mA.

The bottom line

There are numerous electrical processes and variables involved in circuits that we are familiar with. As a result, there is a need to measure them effectively to understand what is happening inside. This is where analog panel meters can help, as they allow you to measure any electrical variable to various units. We have looked at the numerous advantages they offer over modern digital meters. In addition, we have looked at the different types and mechanisms while providing a run down of what factors you should consider when buying one. This will ensure you get the suitable analog meter for the task. We hope this article proves insightful and enables you to understand everything about analog panel meters. Thank you for reading!

Comment (1)

  • Analog One Reply

    Thank you for posting this knowledgable blog. keep posting.

    July 18, 2022 at 9:11 am

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