There have been many impressive technological advances in the automotive industry over the last few decades. One of these advances is the use of the ultrasonic level sensor. Ultrasonic level sensors are not as complex as you may initially imagine. Ultrasonic sensing technology is actually fairly simple, and knowing as much about it as possible can be a great way to keep all of the sensors in your vehicle in good operational order.
The Uses of Ultrasonic Level Sensors
An Ultrasonic level sensor is commonly used for non-contact sensing of highly viscous liquids and bulk solids. These sensors also can be applied toward water treatment and pump control flow measurements. Level sensors emit high-frequency acoustic waves that are then reflected back to be detected by high emitting transducers. The sensors calculate the time elapsed for sound waves to return to the transmitter and convert the information to a distance, level, volume, or channel flow rate. Different types of ultrasonic sensors have a wide range of uses, including use in fish finders, parking sensors and liquid level detection in vehicles, and even in burglar alarms. Ultrasonic level sensors are used inside of vehicles to sense the levels of liquids such as oil levels by detecting changes in the speed of sound according to moisture, temperature, and pressures.
The Principle of Ultrasonic Measurement
Ultrasonic waves detect objects similarly to the way that a Radar does. Radar uses radio waves, ultrasonic uses sound waves. An ultrasonic pulse signal is targeted toward an object and then is reflected by the object sending an echo back. The time between the pulse and the echo return is calculated so the distance can be measured. As the distance changes, the transmitter is in the same place and can measure the change. Bats use a similar method of object and distance calculation in flight. This ultrasonic measurement method is perfect for measuring liquids.
How Ultrasonic Level Sensors Work in Vehicles
Ultrasonic level sensors send valuable information, which can ensure that the level of engine oil does not get too low. This can be important for many reasons, as low oil levels can be dangerous. Ultrasonic sensors work using the principles of sound, and ultrasonic actually means “above human hearing.” The sensors use a frequency that you will be unable to hear. The specific frequency generated by the sensor is rarely used anywhere else in order to prevent outside interference from other forms of audio sensor technology or other external sources. The sensor will transmit a series of sound waves that hit the intended target and then bounce back as the sensor calculates the elapsed time in between the frequency’s return to the transmitter. It converts that information into data which can be read on the dash panel and then be used by drivers to understand some of the many important functions of their vehicles.
Data and Display: How to Read the Liquid Levels in Your Car
After the measurements are taken by the ultrasonic level sensors, the data is transmitted and interpreted by an electronic system in your vehicle in order to give you different liquid level readings. Newer vehicle models have on-screen touch display computers that you can use to access data and detailed information on your vehicle. They will also have warning light indicator such as the little red genie lamp that lets you know that it’s time for an oil change. Older models have a series of sensors and warning lights as well, sans touchscreen displays.
Advantages of Ultrasonic Level Sensors
There are many advantages associated with the use of ultrasonic level sensors. Some of these include:
- Accurate measurement of liquid levels
- a faster response rate of information
- more reliable than other forms of level sensors
- precise measurements that could otherwise not be gathered
- contributes driver safety by preventing dangerously low liquid levels
- can detect pressure and force in a way other sensors simply can not
- transmit through the air so they are immune to many forms of interference
Disadvantages of these types of sensors
While there are many advantages, there als also a few disadvantages associated with the use of ultrasonic level sensors. These include:
- more expensive than other types of sensors
- complicated and intricate so can be difficult to repair
- some sensors are weaker than others, so external factors like air density and dust levels could affect them
Other Kinds of Sensors Used for Vehicles
Other common forms of liquid sensors in vehicles include the wire sensor and the pressure transducer. Wire liquid sensors work by sensing liquid resistance over a wire. A pressure transducer accurately measures fluid and air pressures. A Pressure transducer can be used to measure things like:
- Air (such as inside of tires)
Ultrasonic level sensors are a fantastic way to measure the liquid levels in your vehicle. They may seem complicated, but the basic principles of ultrasonic measurement are pretty simple. Other sensors in your vehicle like pressure transducers are also used to measure things like air pressure. Understanding how the sensors in your vehicle function can be important and helpful. Though more expensive than other sensors, like wire sensors, ultrasonic level sensors are a highly effective way to gauge liquid levels within a vehicle.