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Level sensor

- Introduction.mbgnnm
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-Types of level measurements.
- Types of level Sensor .
- Conclusion .
- References.

The process tanks are widely used for many purposes such
as mixing processes and Interim storage of working fluid, as
well as treatment and avoiding instability errors of flowing
The controlling of the tank level is an important function in
these applications.
Firstly that we need an equipment to represent the liquid level in
the control system These equipment are called sensor

In the language word sensor means device which is used to

record something that has changes with time ".
In industrial side sensor means a device used to convert
physical behavior or phenomena to electrical signal

level sensor
It is a sensor used to convert the level of fluid in tank or
reservoir to electrical signal (analogue signal or digital signal)

Types of level measurements.

i)- open tank measurement .
it is the level measurement when the tank without roof(open
to atmospheric).
Pm= Lm * S.G (inch water column )
Where Pm: maximum pressure. Lm :maximum head. S.G: liquid specific

ii)- close tank measurement.

it is the measurement when the tank has roof , in this cause there
are two pressures , one caused by weight of fluid and the other
form the gas between the fluid service and roof.
Pm=Pgas + Lm * S.G
(in w.c) Where
Pm: maximum pressure.

Lm :maximum head.

gravity Pgas: gas pressure

iii)-open tank with sealed fluid.

S.G: liquid specific

In this cause the level sensor is supplied with seal fluid that its
level is proportional to the level of the liquid .

Span=( P.seal - P.liq_min) - (P.seal - P.liq_max )

P.liq = Lm * S.G(liquid)
P.seal = Lm * S.G(seal)
Lm: max liquid level. L.seal : max seal level.

P.liq_max: max pressure of liquid .

Types of Level sensor

- Float operated type.
- Solid probe type.
- Ultrasonic type.
- Microwave radar type.
- Hydrostatic type.

P.seal: max pressure of seal.

- Float operated level sensor type:There are two types of float level sensor
1)- float switch level sensor ( digital work principle low or full )
This kind is used for alarming applications which gives two
signals, signal that indicates low level ( switch is off ) when level
is falling and signal indicates high level ( switch is on )when level
is rising by assuming that the switch is normally op

2)- continues float level sensor (analogue work principle )

This type measure the level to determine the exact amount of
substance in a continuous manner
which gives the level of fluid in every state by converting the
displacement of floating part to equivalent electrical signal .
This type consist of floating part attached to metal rod and there
is variable resistor which its knob is mounted on this rod.
As the floating part displaced the position of the resistor knob will

change which in turn change the resistor value.

This change is sensed by proper circuit such as whetstone
bridge and then translated to electrical signal .

R= K*L
Where :
R - resistance.
L- length of displacement.

K - calibration constant.

Advantages :

Has simple construction which easy to maintain

Long life stand

Disadvantages :The sensor must be has length of a tank (the sensor and the tank
are the same in length ), so its used in small tanks.

- Solid probe level sensor

type(capacitive type):
The principle of capacitive level measurement is
based on change of capacitance.
An insulated electrode acts as one plate of
capacitor and the tank wall (or reference electrode in
a non-metallic vessel) acts as the other plate the
capacitance depends on the fluid level so the
empty tank has a lower capacitance while a filled tank
has a higher capacitance.
A simple capacitor consists of two electrode plate
separated by a small thickness of an insulator such
as solid, liquid, gas, or vacuum. This insulator is also
called as dielectric.
Value of capacitance depends on dielectric which is
used, also depends on the area of the plate and
distance between the plates.
When electrical signal is applied between the
conductive probe and the vessel wall.
The signal caused very low current flow through the
dielectric (process material in the tank )
When the level in the tank drops, the dielectric
constant drops causing a drop in the capacitance
reading and then drops in current flow.
the capacitance is (from the probe to the vessel wall)
This change of level is detected by internal circuit and
translated into electrical signal .

Where :
C- capacitance .
A-area of plat and the wall of tank.
-permittivity of air
K-dielectric constant
A-area of plats
Advantages :-Has high accuracy range.
-Can be used in fluids of high viscosity

Disadvantages :-difficult to maintains

-the fluid must be in steady sate

- Ultrasonic level sensor type:

ultrasonic level sensors consists of a transmitted ,receiver
,gate control unit, clock pulse generator, counter down,
timing and control unit.
To measure the level with an ultrasonic sensor the module
should be mounted above the tank.
When the ultrasonic signal is transmitted ,the module
outputs a pulse.
When the echo is received another pulse is generated
using an external counter you can measure the time
between two pulses and then the distance of the liquid
through this equation.

D= 0.5*V * t
D=distance of the level
V=velocity of sound 331.5 m/s

t = total time ( go and back )

Advantages :-Ultrasonic level sensors do not make any contact with the process
fluid under level detection.
- They consist of fixed components only hence require less maintenance
-They are usually mounted at the top of the vessel due to which they are
less likely to offer leakage problems as compared to entirely (wetted) kind.

Disadvantages :-Ultra sonic sensors can not be used with materials like powders and
-Also can not be used in cause of heavy vapors and unstable liquid
-The roof must be covered by insulated material to avoid the echo signal
form repeating itself many times .

- Microwave radar level sensor type:

Radar level measurement is based on the principle of
measuring the time required for the microwave pulse and its
reflected echo to make a complete return trip between the
non-contacting sensor and the sensed material level.
Then internal circuit converts this plus signal to electrical
analogue signal which will indicates the level of fluid .
Radar level transmitters range between 5.8 GHz and 26 GHz

C=3 10^8 (light speed) ,

N=number of

= the difference between two frequencies

Advantages of this type is the same as ultra sonic type

-Not accurate if the liquid is not steady state .

-Hydrostatic level sensor

For many years hydrostatic pressure
measurement has been the most important
measuring principle in continuous level
What is meant by hydrostatics?
Hydrostatic is the weight (force) of fluid acting
downwards with earth gravity on specific area

Where it means pressure

This pressure is direct proportional to the

acting force (weight of fluid )and indirect
with the area of the tank


Which can be written as

P= .g.h (open tank)
Where :

- liquid density
h-height of liquid

So as the height increase the hydrostatic pressure increase In

case of closed tank the hydrostatic pressure is
P2= .g.h -P1
p2 = hydrostatic pressure .
p1= pressure of the enclosed gas in the tank .
= density of the fluid .
g = gravity ( earth acceleration ) .
h = height of the liquid column.

-Types of hydrostatic pressure level sensors:pressure sensor in the hydrostatic to main types

-internal hydrostatic pressure sensor.
-external hydrostatic pressure sensor

Classification by structure :

1)- ON/OFF level sensor type :

in this type we can obtain a simple digital signal
with two level conditions as maximum level or
minimum level for opening and closing valve or
for alarming indication.
Sensor response to the pressure variation by the linear
mechanical spring

The mathematical expression of spring

F=K x
F - The applied force on the piston
X- the displacement of piston

K- spring constant

2)- Modulating hydrostatic pressure level sensor:

in this type we can obtain an analog signal expresses
Instantaneous value of tank liquid level using variable
impedance of the sensitive member which responses the
hydrostatic pressure by variation of flexible resisting
diaphragm .

construction :
a)- diaphragm
b)-pressure sensor
(strain gauge and Wheatstone bridge ).
d)-V to I converter
e)- the body ( cover )

Conclusion :

Level sensor : It is a sensor used to convert the level of fluid in

tank or reservoir to electrical signal
There are many types of level sensors which its ideal of
operation depending on different principles but the most
common and the best types are:
Ultrasonic because it is modern and accurate
Hydrostatic level sensor type because it can be used in many
applications and because is has long using life .
Level sensors give us the ability to know how much the fluid
level in the tank to let the storage processing under control.
By using level sensor(on /off type) we can close or open fluid
flow line or pump in such way as closed loop system .
Hydrostatic pressure type level sensor. Advantages
-widely using in industrial side
-relatively accurate
-long life stand
-easy to calibrate Disadvantages
-the tank must be empty for maintenance or replacing the sensor
-casing leakage errors

References :1)-Wikipedia website .

2)-process control instrumentation technology ( book).