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What is Calibration?
A calibration is a comparison between two measurements. Dickson’s calibration lab will compare a device (unit under test) with a more accurate device (the standard). The standard tells us exactly where 70°F, 0°C, 137°F, etc. are. After the comparison is made we adjust the device under test so it reads the same as the standard.
Why Do You Need to Re-Calibrate?
Over time, due to natural wear and tear, temperature sensors lose their pinpoint accuracy. Environmental factors such as dust, dirt, and humidity can negatively affect a sensor’s accuracy. This is called drift. These devices won’t read 95°F in a refrigerator that feels cool, but they may be off by a few degrees. For many applications, this small difference matters. When you calibrate your device you are accounting for the natural drift of the sensor.
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Dickson's Calibration Options
|Calibration||Included Documentation||New Calibration/Recalibration|
|N100 / N150||1-Point NIST Calibration and Certificate||$99 / $156|
|N300 / N350||3-Point NIST Calibration and Certificate||$156 / $209|
|N400 / N450||3-Point NIST & A2LA Calibration and Certification||$269 / $315|
|N550||3-Point NIST Recalibration with Before Data and Certificate||$269|
|N995||Custom Calibration Point||$50|
What Are Replaceable Sensors?
A Replaceable Sensor is a removable part of your device that houses the chip which takes the actual temperature/humidity reading (or has an attached probe that takes the reading). By separating this from the device, it allows Dickson to offer a plug and play calibration solution.
Benefits of a replaceable sensor:
- Faster Calibrations
- More cost effective calibrations
- Less downtime
Without Replaceable Sensors
- Order a recalibration for your device.
- Acquire a Return Authorization Code from a Dickson Representative.
- Take unit out of its environment.
- Move products out of environment/install backup monitoring system.
- Box unit up.
- Ship unit to Dickson.
- Dickson recalibrates unit and ships it back.
- Receive the unit.
- Disassemble backup system/move product back into environment.
- Reinstall unit/system.
With Replaceable Sensors
- Order a Replaceable Sensor.
- Take old sensor off, put new sensor on.
You should calibrate because the accuracy of measurement devices drifts over time and you need to be certain that your device is accurately recording environmental values.
When your temperature sensor is put under test, adjustments are made if inaccuracies are found. Changes are made to the sensor to align with the standard. These changes are called an adjustment.
So who says our standard is accurate? Who knows what 70°F feels like? Who says a yard is a yard? It may seem arbitrarily argumentative, but it’s a compelling question.
The answer is NIST.
Who is NIST? NIST stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This government agency creates and maintains standards of measurement for length, mass, time, etc. In regards to temperature, standards are sent in by manufacturers, and those standards are calibrated to an even more accurate standard. They then become a NIST certified standard, which the Dickson calibration lab then uses to calibrate your device.
At Dickson, we have temperature sensors calibrated by NIST that measure temperature with a NIST certified accuracy. Your temperature sensor is then compared and adjusted to these standards, to ensure its accuracy. This process is documented, and thus your calibration is traceable back to the NIST standards. You receive documentation with your device to back this up.
In its most simple form, a 1-point calibration means your unit will be calibrated at one specific point on the temperature scale. This is good if the temperature in your application varies by very little.
An example: A calibration lab determines that a device is reading 26°F when it should actually be reading 24°F. So, the calibration lab adjusts the device two degrees, so that it now reads 24°F. A 1-point NIST assures accuracy at this specific point.
Additionally, you may choose to specify this point to best reflect your application.
A 3-point NIST calibration differs from a 1-point NIST calibration in the amount of points checked for their accuracy by a calibration lab, and thus the document that is generated. The 3-point calibration consists of a high, middle, and low check, and thus grants you proof of accuracy over a larger range.
Additionally, you may choose to specify these three points to best reflect your application.
A zero adjustment is also called an offset. If your standard reads 26°F, but the device displays 24°F, your device is off by 2°F. You need to adjust the device two degrees in order for it to read accurately. A zero adjustment will shift the entire scale by 2°F even if the extreme ends of the scale were not off by 2°F.
A span adjustment is when you adjust the device on a curve. In the example above, we’d adjust the device by 2°F at 24°F, but the extremes wouldn’t need any adjustment and therefore would be relatively unaffected.
Dickson recommends re-calibrating every year.
Now, some factors may change that. These include:
- Environment: The more extreme the conditions (really hot or really cold) the more likely the device will drift over time. Dust, dirt, moisture, air particles can all contribute to a device needing to me recalibrated more often as well.
- SOPs: Your standard operating procedure (SOP) may require you to recalibrate more often than our recommendation.
- Regulations: Different industries are subject to different regulations and may require calibrations more or less often than our recommendation. It is best to check with your regulatory agency.
- Auditors: Some auditors have their own preferences on how often a device should be calibrated. Most often they adhere to the regulations for their industry/regulating body, but this isn’t always the case. Be sure to ask them what they’ll be expecting.
- Physical damage - Dropping, kicking, bumping, or otherwise damaging your device may mean it will need to be recalibrated more often.
You can also use a before and after calibration to hone in on the perfect calibration cycles.
Need help? We are calibration experts. Reach out to us via email or phone.Phone 1-630-543-3747 Contact Us