January 10, 2013 1 Comment
A question came in recently concerning the maximum recommended cable length for analog sensors. Even as digital interfaces gain popularity, sensors with analog interfaces (0-10V, 4-20 mA, etc.) still represent the overwhelming majority of continuous position sensors used in industrial applications.
The question about maximum cable length for analog sensors comes up pretty frequently. Generally speaking, the issue is that electrical conductors, even good ones, have some resistance to the flow of current (signals). If the resistance of the conductor (the cable) gets high enough, the sensor’s signal can be degraded to the point where accuracy suffers, or even to the point where it becomes unusable. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to the question. Variables such as wire gauge, whether or not the cable is shielded, where and how the cable is routed, what other types of devices are nearby, and other factors come into play, and need to be considered. A discussion about all of these variables could fill a book, but we can make some general recommendations: