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Useful information on thermocouple wires

Useful information on thermocouple wires

Thermocouple is actually a device, used for measuring temperature in areas that have different temperatures. It is used as a sensor or alarm and has many different applications. The field of usage depends of the engineer’s fantasy and skills. The thermocouple is a junction of two metals (or metal alloys) that have different specifications. The thermocouple is connected to the measuring instrument by a thermocouple wire. As we said before, this device has many areas of application, and in this article, a description of all types of a thermocouple wire, and various wiring standards.

What is a thermocouple wire

A thermocouple wire by definition is used from the sensing point to the junction point. The sensing point is the point where you want to measure the temperature (for example the temperature in the oven), and the junction point is the point with the reference temperature (temperature from the room, for example). The thermocouple measures the difference between these two temperatures and gives a feedback signal to the controller to employ the programmed signal (turn off the oven, when the desired temperature is reached). There are different thermocouples available, defined by the metal used for probes: Type J, K, T, E etc. Every one of these types has its own temperature range in which it is used. A thermocouple wire can vary in size. When the application needs high accuracy of measurement, smaller wires are chosen. In applications where high precision is not required, a larger thermocouple wire is used.

Pyrosales provides different thermocouple cables & wires on their website

Pyrosales offer a wide selection of thermocouple wire and cable, to cater to a wide range of applications and temperature ranges. Choose from

  • Synthetic
  • Tape
  • Fibreglass
  • Teflon
  • PVC

It must be noted that when the thermocouple is used for measuring, the wire should be connected to the instrument through its own resistivity, to avoid measurement errors from transitional resistances.


Standards and types of thermocouple wires

By electrical engineering standards, a thermocouple wire has to be insulated. According to these standards, there are different colors for wires used. These standards and types are described in this section. By United States ASTM standards, in a type J thermocouple, the negative pole is colored red and the positive is white, but the overall insulation is black. For type T, the overall insulation is blue, the negative pole is red, and the positive is blue. In type B, the overall insulation is gray and the positive pole is gray, too. In type K, the overall insulation and the positive pole are yellow. In types R and S, the overall insulation is green, but the positive pole is black. There are also German DIN, French NFE and British thermocouple wire standards, in which different colors are used. These standards are used everywhere in the world.

Performance versus length of thermocouple wires

In practice, the performance of a thermocouple wire is dependant on the length of the wire. The electromagnetic interference is the main factor of a good performance. The other two factors that influence the performance of a thermocouple wire are the total loop resistance and electrical noise reduction. You should always have in mind that the loop resistance should not be greater than 100 ohms (you can calculate this with a simple multiplication of the wire length measured in feet, and resistance per double feet). The electrical noise of a thermocouple wire can be reduced by using shielded wires.

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