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What You Need to Know About Current Sensors

When considering what it takes to correctly and safely work with electricity, it is important to understand some of the common components frequently used. A good example is a current sensor. In the most basic terms, a current sensor is a device that finds electric current normally passing through an electrical wire, and subsequently produces a signal of some kind that is proportional to the current it has detected. So it is telling you how much current is flowing through the wire. A current sensor device can detect either AC current or DC current, depending on its design.

The signal that is generated from a current sensor is important because it tells you what’s going on inside the wire. You can use that signal for a couple of different things. You can display the signal result on a power meter or voltmeter.  Or, you might want to store the signal value in a type of data acquisition system so it can be analyzed. Or, most commonly, you can use the signal to monitor and control what is going on inside the wire. AC Current sensors can be used to measure AC current amplitude, AC frequency and AC harmonics. When used in conjunction with the voltage of the system being measured, kW, kVA, power factor, kVAr, and more can be determined.

Ultimately, a sensor, no matter what type, is going to “sense” what is going on and tell you what is going on. You can then use that information for a number of end results. It could be that you purely want to monitor what’s happening – and that is important for if you don’t know what is happening you cannot react if needed. The sensor is watching for you so you can make sure equipment is working as it should, or so you can see if a variation happens that is out of line with norms and something needs to be done to mitigate the variation. And at the end of the day, you are ensuring safety – either personal safety or the safety of the public, depending on the application.

In order to control the operation of large mechanical processes like pumps, conveyors, compressors, heaters and the like, you have to get an accurate reading from your current sensor in real-time. You have to be able to get the reading and then react appropriately. Current sensing has been found to be a more economical and reliable method for monitoring and controlling large electrical loads, so the need for current sensors has grown exponentially.

The range of current sensors, including AC current sensors, that is available from Aim Dynamics spans nearly every configuration that could be needed throughout multiple industries. Those AC current sensors that are most commonly used look for an AC current input and usually have an AC voltage output. Although this configuration can be changed in a variety of ways depending on your needs, it is important to understand what you need to monitor and what kind of output you need the sensor to display for you.