How to Measure Temperature in Experiments with Best Methods

Basic Principle of Temperature Measurements

  • Understanding the basic principles behind these temperature measurement methods is essential for selecting the most appropriate method for a specific application and interpreting the measurement results accurately.
  • Additionally, calibration is crucial to ensure the accuracy of temperature readings obtained from these instruments.
  • Temperature measurement is based on the principle that physical properties of materials change predictably with temperature. Different temperature measurement methods rely on these changes to provide accurate readings.
  • Here are the basic principles behind some common temperature measurement methods:
  1. Thermocouples:
    • Principle:
      • Thermocouples are based on the Seebeck effect, which states that when two different metals are joined at one end
      • A voltage is generated when the temperature at the junction differs from the temperature at the other end.
    • Working:
      • The temperature difference produces a voltage that is proportional to the temperature, allowing measurement through a calibrated relationship between voltage and temperature.
        Thermocouple working principle
        Thermocouple working principle
  2. Thermistors:
    • Principle: Thermistors are temperature-sensitive resistors. They exploit the fact that the electrical resistance of certain materials changes significantly with temperature.
    • Working: The resistance of a thermistor changes exponentially with temperature. By measuring this change in resistance, the temperature of the thermistor can be determined.
      Thermister Joints Temperature Sensors
      Thermister Joints Temperature Sensors
  3. RTDs (Resistance Temperature Detectors):
    • Principle: RTDs are based on the fact that the electrical resistance of certain materials, typically platinum, changes linearly with temperature.
    • Working: As the temperature changes, the resistance of the RTD changes. By measuring this resistance and referring to a calibration curve, the temperature can be accurately determined.
  4. Infrared Thermometers:
    • Principle: Infrared thermometers measure the infrared radiation emitted by an object, which is related to its temperature.
    • Working: The instrument detects the intensity of the infrared radiation and converts it into a temperature reading using the Stefan-Boltzmann Law.
      Infrared camera for temperature measurement
      Infrared camera for temperature measurement
  5. Bimetallic Temperature Sensors:
    • Principle: Bimetallic temperature sensors use two different metals with different coefficients of thermal expansion bonded together.
    • Working: As the temperature changes, the metals expand or contract at different rates, causing the sensor to bend. The degree of bending is proportional to the temperature.
  6. Mercury or Alcohol Thermometers:
    • Principle: These traditional thermometers are based on the expansion and contraction of a liquid (mercury or alcohol) with temperature changes.
    • Working: As the temperature increases, the liquid expands and rises in a capillary tube, and the scale on the thermometer provides the temperature reading.
Temperature measurement Devices
Temperature Measurement Devices

Types of Temperature Measurement Devices

  • Measuring temperature in experiments is crucial for many scientific and industrial processes.
  • There are various methods and instruments available for temperature measurement, each suitable for different situations.
  • Here are some common methods:

Classification of Temperature measurement Devices
Classification of Temperature Measurement Devices


  • Thermocouples are temperature sensors made of two different metals joined at one end. When the junction is heated or cooled, it generates a voltage that can be correlated with temperature.
  • They are versatile, cost-effective, and can measure a wide range of temperatures.
Types of Thermocouples used for Temperature Measurements
Types of Thermo couples used for Temperature Measurements


  • Thermistors are temperature-sensitive resistors that exhibit a significant change in resistance with temperature. They are particularly sensitive to small temperature changes.
  • They are commonly used in electronic devices and have a more limited temperature range compared to thermocouples.

RTDs (Resistance Temperature Detectors):

  • RTDs are temperature sensors based on the fact that the electrical resistance of certain materials changes predictably with temperature.
  • They provide high accuracy over a wide temperature range and are often used in industrial applications.
RTD used for Temperature Measurements
RTD used for Temperature Measurements

Infrared Thermometers

  • Infrared thermometers measure the temperature of an object by detecting the infrared radiation emitted by the object. They are non-contact devices.
  • These are useful for measuring the temperature of surfaces that are difficult to reach or are moving.
    Temperature measurement IR camera
    Temperature measurement IR camera

Bimetallic Temperature Sensors:

  • Bimetallic strips consist of two different metals bonded together.
  • As the temperature changes, the metals expand or contract at different rates, causing the strip to bend.
  • Bimetallic sensors are often used in mechanical thermometers and thermostats.

Mercury or Alcohol Thermometers:

  • Traditional liquid-in-glass thermometers use mercury or colored alcohol. The liquid expands or contracts with temperature changes, causing the level to rise or fall on a calibrated scale.
  • Mercury thermometers are less common today due to environmental concerns, but alcohol-filled thermometers are still used.

Data Loggers:

  • Data loggers are electronic devices equipped with temperature sensors. They can record temperature over time and are useful for monitoring temperature variations in an environment.
  • Some data loggers also have the capability to transmit data wirelessly.

 Thermocouples Ranges and Industrial Applications

  • Thermocouples are temperature sensors that utilize the Seebeck effect to generate a voltage proportional to the temperature difference between two different metal alloys.
  • The specific metals used in a thermocouple determine its characteristics, temperature range, and applications.
  • Different types of thermocouples are designated by letter codes.
  • The most common types include:
Types of Thermocouples and Their Range of applications
Types of Thermo couples and Their Range of Applications

Type K 

  • Metals of Wires: Chromel and Alumel:
  • Temperature Range: -200°C to 1,372°C (-328°F to 2,502°F)
  • Application: Widely used due to its wide temperature range.
  • Commonly used in various industries, including manufacturing, research, and development.

Type J 

  • Metals of Wires: Iron and Constantin
  • Temperature Range: -40°C to 750°C (-40°F to 1,382°F)
  • Application: Suitable for moderate temperature applications. Commonly used in industrial processes, food industry, and heating applications.

Type T 

  • Metals of Wires: Copper and Constantan
  • Temperature Range: -200°C to 350°C (-328°F to 662°F)
  • Application: Suitable for low-temperature applications. Commonly used in cryogenics, HVAC, and environmental monitoring.

Type E 

  • Metals of Wires: Chromel and Constantan
  • Temperature Range: -200°C to 900°C (-328°F to 1,652°F)
  • Application: Well-suited for applications where high accuracy is required at moderate temperatures. Commonly used in laboratory and industrial settings.

Type N 

  • Metals of Wires: Nicrosil and Nisil
  • Temperature Range: -200°C to 1,300°C (-328°F to 2,372°F)
  • Application: Offers good accuracy and stability, suitable for a wide range of applications. Commonly used in aerospace, automotive, and nuclear industries.

Type S 

  • Metal Wires: Platinum and Rhodium
  • Temperature Range: 0°C to 1,600°C (32°F to 2,912°F)
  • Application: High-temperature applications, such as in industrial furnaces, kilns, and aerospace applications.

Type R 

  • Metal Wires: Platinum and Rhodium
  • Temperature Range: 0°C to 1,600°C (32°F to 2,912°F)
  • Application: Similar to Type S, suitable for high-temperature applications requiring high accuracy.

Type B 

  • Metal Wires: Platinum and Rhodium
  • Temperature Range: 0°C to 1,700°C (32°F to 3,092°F)
  • Application: Very high-temperature applications, such as in the metal industry and certain research applications.

Type K Thermocouple

  • the K thermocouple is one of the most common and widely used types of thermocouples.
  • It is composed of two different metal alloys: Chromel (a nickel-chromium alloy) and Alumel (a nickel-aluminum alloy).
  • The Type K thermocouple is known for its versatility, wide temperature range, and reliability.
  • Here are some key features and details about Type K thermocouples:

Temperature Range:

  • Type K thermocouples have a broad temperature range, making them suitable for a variety of applications.
  • They can measure temperatures from approximately -200°C to 1,372°C (-328°F to 2,502°F).


  • Wide Application Range: The broad temperature range makes Type K thermocouples suitable for many industrial, scientific, and commercial applications.
  • High Sensitivity: Type K thermocouples provide a relatively high output voltage, which enhances their sensitivity to temperature changes.
  • Cost-Effective: They are cost-effective compared to some other thermocouple types.

Common Applications:

  • Type K thermocouples are commonly used in industries such as manufacturing, petrochemical, food processing, and HVAC.
  • They are suitable for applications involving heating elements, ovens, furnaces, and various temperature monitoring systems.


  • While Type K thermocouples are versatile, they may not be the best choice for extremely high-temperature applications, where other thermocouple types like Type S or Type R might be more suitable.

Color Code:

  • Type K thermocouples are identified by their color code. The positive leg (Chromel) is typically yellow, and the negative leg (Alumel) is usually red.


    • Type K thermocouples are compatible with a wide range of instrumentation and temperature controllers, making them easy to integrate into existing systems.


  • Type K thermocouples offer good accuracy, and their calibration can be traced back to international standards.
  • When selecting a thermocouple for a specific application, factors such as the required temperature range, environmental conditions, and accuracy should be considered.
  • Type K thermocouples are often a reliable and cost-effective choice for a wide range of temperature measurement applications.

Type T thermocouple

  • A Type T thermocouple is a type of thermocouple composed of two different metal alloys: Copper (positive leg) and Constantan (negative leg).
  • The Type T thermocouple is known for its suitability for low-temperature applications and high sensitivity in the lower temperature range.
  • Here are some key features and details about Type T thermocouples:

Temperature Range:

  • Type T thermocouples have a temperature range typically from approximately -200°C to 350°C (-328°F to 662°F).
  • They are suitable for applications where low-temperature measurements are required.


  • Low-Temperature Sensitivity: Type T thermocouples are particularly sensitive to low temperatures, making them suitable for cryogenic applications.
  • Good Stability: They offer good stability and accuracy in their specified temperature range.
  • Versatility: Type T thermocouples are used in various applications where low-temperature sensitivity is crucial, such as in cryogenics, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and environmental monitoring.

Common Applications:

  • Type T thermocouples are often used in applications involving refrigeration, freezers, and other low-temperature environments.
  • They are suitable for scientific research, industrial processes, and other situations where accurate low-temperature measurements are necessary.


  • Type T thermocouples have a limited upper-temperature range compared to some other thermocouple types.
  • They might not be suitable for applications involving very high temperatures.

Color Code:

  • Type T thermocouples are identified by their color code. The positive leg (Copper) is typically blue, and the negative leg (Constantan) is usually red.


    • Type T thermocouples are compatible with a variety of instrumentation and temperature controllers.
  • Accuracy:
    • Type T thermocouples provide good accuracy within their specified temperature range.
  • When selecting a thermocouple for a specific application, it’s essential to consider factors such as the required temperature range, sensitivity, and environmental conditions.
  • Type T thermocouples are a suitable choice for applications where accurate low-temperature measurements are critical.


Infrared Camera for Temperature Measurement

  • It’s important to note that while infrared cameras have these advantages, thermocouples also have their strengths, especially in scenarios where precise point measurements or high-temperature stability are critical.
  • The choice between infrared cameras and thermocouples depends on the specific requirements of the application, the desired level of accuracy, and the environmental conditions in which they will be used. In some cases, a combination of both technologies may be the most effective solution.
Advantages of Infrared camera for temperature Contours Image
Advantages of Infrared camera for temperature Contours Image

Advantages of  IR or Thermal camera over Thermo couples

  • Infrared cameras and thermo-couples serve different purposes in temperature measurement, and each has its own advantages and limitations.
  • Here are some advantages of infrared cameras over thermo-couples:
  1. Non-contact Measurement:
    • One of the significant advantages of infrared cameras is that they enable non-contact temperature measurement.
    • This is particularly useful when dealing with moving objects, inaccessible areas, or situations where physical contact might be impractical or unsafe.
  2. Rapid Temperature Scanning:
    • Infrared cameras can scan and capture temperature data quickly across a large area, providing a rapid overview of temperature distribution.
    • Thermo-couples, on the other hand, might require multiple sensors and more time for installation and data collection.
  3. Imaging Capabilities:
    • Infrared cameras provide thermal images, allowing users to visualize temperature variations across surfaces.
    • This imaging capability can be invaluable for identifying hotspots, anomalies, or trends in temperature distribution.
    • Thermo-couples provide point measurements and do not offer the same visual representation.
  4. Real-time Monitoring:
    • Infrared cameras can provide real-time temperature monitoring, making them suitable for dynamic and fast-changing environments.
    • Thermo-couples may have a delay in responding to temperature changes.
  5. Ease of Use:
    • Infrared cameras are generally easier to use and require less setup time compared to installing thermocouples.
    • They offer a user-friendly interface and the ability to quickly capture and analyze thermal data.
  6. Versatility:
    • Infrared cameras can be used in a wide range of applications, from industrial processes to medical diagnostics and building inspections.
    • They are versatile tools that can adapt to various scenarios.
    • Thermo-couples may be more specialized and require specific configurations for different applications.
  7. Safety:
    • Infrared cameras allow for remote temperature measurement, reducing the need for personnel to be in close proximity to potentially hazardous or high-temperature areas.
    • This enhances safety in certain applications compared to using thermocouples.
  8. Cost-Effective for Certain Applications:
    • Infrared cameras can be cost-effective for certain applications, especially when considering the speed of data collection and the ability to monitor large areas.
    • Thermocouples may incur higher costs in terms of installation, maintenance, and the need for multiple sensors.

How to Select an IR Camera

  • Infrared cameras, also known as thermal cameras or thermographic cameras, are commonly used for temperature measurement in various applications.
  • These cameras detect and visualize infrared radiation emitted by objects and convert it into a temperature display.
  • Remember that while infrared cameras are valuable tools for temperature measurement, proper usage and understanding of the camera’s specifications are crucial for obtaining accurate and reliable results.
  • Here are some key points to consider when using an infrared camera for temperature measurement:
  1. Accuracy and Calibration:
    • Calibration is crucial for accurate temperature measurements. Make sure your infrared camera is regularly calibrated according to manufacturer specifications.
    • Understand the camera’s accuracy specifications and limitations.
    • Factors such as emissivity, distance, and ambient temperature can affect accuracy.
  2. Emissivity:
    • Emissivity is a measure of how efficiently an object emits infrared radiation.
    • Different materials have different emissivity values.
    • Ensure that you set the emissivity correctly on the camera for the material you are measuring.
  3. Distance to Target (Field of View):
    • The distance between the camera and the target affects the accuracy of temperature measurement.
    • Ensure that you are within the camera’s specified distance range for accurate readings.
  4. Ambient Conditions:
    • Ambient conditions, such as the temperature of the surrounding environment and the presence of reflective surfaces, can impact measurements.
    • Consider these factors when using the camera.
  5. Image Resolution:
    • Higher-resolution cameras provide more detailed thermal images, which can be important for certain applications.
    • Consider the required level of detail for your specific use case.
  6. Temperature Range:
    • Different infrared cameras have different temperature measurement ranges.
    • Choose a camera that suits the temperature range of your application.
  7. Image Display and Analysis:
    • Look for a camera that provides clear and easy-to-interpret thermal images.
    • Some cameras come with features like spot meters, temperature alarms, and image fusion for enhanced analysis.
  8. Application-specific Considerations:
    • Different applications may have specific requirements.
    • For example, industrial applications might require cameras with rugged designs, while medical applications may have different considerations.
  9. Regulatory Compliance:
    • Ensure that the infrared camera complies with relevant standards and regulations for your industry or application.
  10. Training and Familiarity:
    • Proper training is essential for the accurate and effective use of infrared cameras.
    • Ensure that users are familiar with the camera’s features and limitations.
  11. Cost Considerations:
    • Infrared cameras come in a range of prices. Consider your budget while also ensuring that the camera meets your specific requirements.


Comparison of Temperature Data with CFD

  • When comparing temperature data obtained from experiments with those simulated using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), it’s crucial to understand the context of both methods and consider several factors for a meaningful comparison.
  • Here are some key considerations:
Temperature contours at constant wall temperature (CFD results)
Temperature contours at constant wall temperature (CFD results)

Experimental Setup:

  • Ensure that the experimental setup is well-characterized and the measurements are taken under controlled conditions.
  • Any variations in the experimental setup can lead to discrepancies between experimental and simulated data.

CFD Model Validation:

  • Before comparing CFD results with experimental data, it’s essential to validate the CFD model.
  • This involves comparing the simulated results with experimental data from a similar setup to ensure that the model accurately predicts the physical phenomena.

Comparison of CFD Input with Experimental Conditions

Thermal Boundary Conditions

  • Make sure that the boundary conditions used in the CFD simulation closely match those of the actual experiment.
  • An accurate representation of boundary conditions is crucial for realistic simulations.

Material Properties:

  • The accuracy of temperature predictions in CFD simulations depends on the correct input of material properties.
  • Ensure that the properties of the materials used in the CFD model match those of the actual materials in the experiment.

Uncertainty in Experimental Data:

  • Understand the uncertainty associated with the experimental temperature measurements.
  • Experimental setups may have inherent uncertainties, and variations in measurements can occur.

Transient vs. Steady-State Conditions:

  • Consider whether the experiment and CFD simulation involve transient or steady-state conditions.
  • CFD simulations can model both, but the comparison should be made under similar conditions.

Mesh Quality:

    • The quality of the mesh in the CFD simulation can impact the accuracy of the results.
    • A fine and well-structured mesh is essential for capturing temperature gradients accurately.

Solver Settings:

  • Verify that the solver settings used in the CFD simulation are appropriate for the physics of the problem.
  • The choice of turbulence models, convergence criteria, and numerical schemes can influence the results.

Data Analysis

  • Ensure consistent post-processing methods for both experimental and CFD data. Consider how the data is extracted, averaged, and compared.
  • Sensitivity Analysis:
    • Conduct sensitivity analyses to identify how changes in certain parameters or boundary conditions affect the results. This can help understand the robustness of the CFD model.
  • Qualitative vs. Quantitative Comparison:
    • Understand whether the comparison is qualitative or quantitative. Visual inspection of trends and patterns may be informative, but quantitative validation is critical for reliability.
    • Comparing temperature data from experiments with CFD simulations requires a systematic and careful approach.
    • A well-validated CFD model, an accurate representation of boundary conditions for turbulent heat transfer, and a thorough understanding of the experimental setup are essential for meaningful comparisons.



  • Choosing the appropriate type of thermocouple depends on factors such as the temperature range of the application, required accuracy, and environmental conditions.
  • Each type has its advantages and limitations, and careful consideration is necessary to ensure accurate temperature measurements for specific applications.
  • When selecting a method for temperature measurement, consider factors such as the temperature range of the experiment, accuracy requirements, cost, and the nature of the environment in which the measurement will take place.
  • Always follow safety guidelines and use instruments appropriate for your specific experiment or application.
  • Type K and T are the most popular thermocouples.

Leave a Comment