Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tried and True: Industrial Bulb and Capillary Temperature Switches

UE NEMA 4 Temperature Switch
UE watertight and corrosion resistant temperature switch.
Not all processes or operations require the use of state of the art technology to get the desired result. Part of good process design is matching up the most appropriate methods and technology to the operation.

One method of changing the state of an electrical switch from open to closed in response to a process temperature change is a bulb and capillary temperature switch.  The change in state occurs in the mechanical switch when the temperature of a process control operation crosses a certain threshold. Bulb and capillary switches have the advantage of operating without requiring an excitation voltage, simplifying their use in a given application.

The physical operating principle behind the capillary thermostat relies on the use of a fluid. The fluid inside the thermostat expands or contracts in response to the temperature at the sensing bulb. The change in fluid volume produces a force upon a diaphragm or other mechanical transfer device. The diaphragm is connected to, and changes the status of, an adjoining circuit using a snap action switch.

Because of their simplicity and comparatively modest cost, commercial versions of bulb and capillary switches find application throughout residential and commercial settings. Some common applications include warming ovens, deep fat fryers, and water heaters.

UE hazardous area temperature switch
UE hazardous area temperature switch.

Industrial versions of bulb and capillary switches are fitted with appropriate housings for the installation environment. Housings designed for hazardous areas, drenching or submersion, high dust or high corrosive environments are standardly available. Many switching options exist as well, such as high current ratings, SPDT, DPDT, dual SPDT, adjustable deadbands, and internal or external adjustments.

Operation of the temperature switches is subject to a few limitations. The setpoint is most often fixed, so changing the setpoint accurately requires trial and error or a calibration procedure. The temperature range over which the switches are suitable is comparatively limited, with a matching of the bulb and capillary fluid system to the application temperature range a necessary task in product selection. Within its proper sphere of use, though, bulb and capillary temperature switches offer simple, reliable operation, with little requirement for maintenance.

Time-tested, and application proven, these simple mechanical devices are still strong candidates for applications in any temperature control process. As with any process instrument implementation, we strongly suggest you share your application requirements with a knowledgable product specialists for the best solution.