What’s a Pressure Gauge?

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A manometer measures pressure in gases or liquids. Pressure gauges are used for various purposes and should be calibrated periodically. Different styles of gauges are available, including Bourdon tubes and diaphragms. Monitoring pressure in pressurized systems is important for safety. Some gauges can be connected to remote indicator panels or automatically shut down a system if pressure drops outside an acceptable range. Gauge designs are constantly advancing.

A manometer is a measuring device that determines the pressure in a compressed gas or liquid. Pressure gauges are used extensively around the world, for tasks ranging from checking the tire pressure in a car before a journey to monitoring the pressure of various systems within a nuclear power plant. There are many different styles of gauges available, designed for various purposes, and like other gauges, these gauges can and should be calibrated periodically to confirm that they are functioning properly when used for delicate operations.

Some gauges give a reading of pressure relative to a complete vacuum, while others measure pressure relative to ambient air pressure. In both cases, the device is often mechanical in nature, with an element within the gauge that moves in response to pressure changes and pushes the part of the gauge that gives a measured reading. Some provide readouts in digital form to make them easier to read, while others stick to analog dials that are directly attached to the gauge.

A very common type of pressure gauge is the Bourdon tube, which is a flexible tube that moves in response to pressure. Diaphragms that respond to slight changes in pressure can also be used. In the tire pressure gauge, which may be familiar to anyone using wheeled vehicles, pressure is determined with the aid of a piston that pushes a small spring in response to contact with pressurized air from the tire.

Pressurized systems can be used in a huge number of locations. In a car alone, fuel, lube, and brake fluid are all pressurized, along with the air in the tires. In factories, pressurized systems are used in production control systems of all shapes and sizes. Being able to monitor the pressure in these systems can be very important, as it allows people to identify potential safety threats such as dangerously high pressure, along with system failures such as low pressure.

Some gauges can be connected to remote indicator panels that will alert people when a gauge problem develops. For example, many modern vehicles have pressure gauges inside the tires that alert the driver when there is a pressure problem, eliminating the need to use a pressure gauge to check pressure. Others may be designed to automatically shut down a system if pressure drops outside an acceptable range. Gauge designs are also constantly advancing to increase reliability and applicability.

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