classic | mobile



Why and how pressure gauges should be calibrated
3rd Quarter 2017, Pneumatic systems & components

Pressure gauge calibration is the comparison of measurement values of a unit with those of a more accurate calibrated reference instrument. This instrument is normally traceable to National Standards (NMISA). The purpose of calibration is to maintain the quality and accuracy of measurement and ensure the proper working of an instrument.

Even the highest quality instruments are subject to drift over time, resulting in inaccurate measurements and substandard performance. All instruments should be calibrated by trained, competent and approved personnel. Calibration intervals and error limits should be defined and records of the calibration results should be kept, maintaining instrument integrity. Neglecting calibration can result in unplanned production downtime, inferior products, or quality issues. In addition, allowing instruments that are critical to a process to drift out of specification could risk employee safety. The cost of calibration is normally insignificant compared to potential production or injury costs.

Calibration intervals as specified by the manufacturer are normally followed until the user can assign calibration intervals based on the history of previous calibration results. In addition, calibration is often required with a new instrument, or when an instrument may have been subjected to an unexpected shock or vibration that may have put it out of its specified limits.

Different types of pressure measurement exist. These include gauge pressure, vacuum, absolute, barometric, and differential pressure. Gauges are available for each of the above types of pressures, as well as for compound pressure which indicates pressure or vacuum on the same dial. For the calibration information below, we will use gauge pressure, the most common type.

Listed below are the most common factors that may influence the calibration of gauges in the class 0,25%, 1% and 1,6%.

Accuracy class: Pressure gauges are manufactured most commonly as per EN 837 accuracy classes from 0,1% to 0,4% of range. The class indicates the allowable percentage error of the full-scale value of the gauge. When calibrating, all values reported should be within the class of the gauge. The following accuracies normally apply: for dial sizes 40 mm and 50 mm, class 2,5%; for 63 mm class 1,6%; and for 100 mm and 160 mm class 1%. For reference test gauges with mirror scales, the norm is 0,25% accuracy.

Pressure media and adiabatic effect: Lower pressure gauges are normally calibrated with air and higher pressure gauges are calibrated with liquid. For pressures below 40 kPa, gases such as nitrogen or air are the preferred media.

Gas is also practical for use for pressures up to 6000 kPa, as long as the adiabatic cooling effect is eliminated. The adiabatic cooling effect occurs when gas is rapidly pressurised in a closed system. The gas heats up and expands in volume, resulting in a higher pressure reading than after it has been allowed to cool down and stabilise. Readings should only be taken after allowing the gas to cool down and the system to stabilise. For pressures above 60 kPa, water or oil may be used as a pressure media.

Pressurising the gauge: The most common pressure gauges consist of a mechanical element linked to a mechanical movement with screws or rivets. Pressurise and vent the gauge three times before calibration to ensure repeatable values can be obtained. Each time check for drag or pointer stickiness.

Reading the pressure: Different dial sizes and scale ranges result in varying degrees of difficulty when taking pressure readings. All dials have major and minor scale markings and the distance between the resolution marks is determined by the gauge dial size, the range of the gauge and the class of the gauge.

Standard practice is to apply pressure to the gauge under test until the pointer lines up perfectly on a graduation, and then take the reading on the more accurate reference instrument that should have a better resolution. It is also important to avoid parallax errors when taking readings. Most test gauges have a mirror dial to assist the operator to line up the reflection of the pointer with the actual pointer.

Hysteresis: Hysteresis exists in all mechanical pressure gauges. This is the difference in value at the same calibration point but in opposing directions. Take a reading at a point when the pressure rises and again at the same point with the pressure falling. The difference in value will be the hysteresis. Gentle tapping on the gauge to release any friction is considered standard practice and is recommended.

For more information contact Chris du Plessis, SA Gauge, 086 000 7911,,

Supplied By: SA Gauge
Tel: 0860 007 911
Fax: 0860 007 922
Share via email     Print this page  

Further reading:

  • SMC’s new generation valve manifolds
    3rd Quarter 2017, SMC Pneumatics South Africa, Pneumatic systems & components
    Since opening its doors in 2016, SMC has continuously promoted the new generation SY series of valve manifolds.
  • A revolution in automation
    3rd Quarter 2017, Festo, This Week's Editor's Pick, Pneumatic systems & components
    All this is made possible by the latest developments in piezo technology and associated software. Just as the smartphone turned the mobile communication market on its head a decade ago, so too Festo’s ...
  • Pneumatic or electric?
    3rd Quarter 2017, Festo, Pneumatic systems & components
    Most linear motions in the field of automation and handling technology are carried out using pneumatic or electric drives. This means that engineers frequently face the challenge of having to find the ...
  • Three additional communication protocols
    3rd Quarter 2017, SMC Pneumatics South Africa, Pneumatic systems & components
    Responding to the demand for broader communication capacities on its popular direct input step motor controller, SMC Pneumatics has now made it available in three additional communication protocols, DeviceNet, ...
  • How to extend your filter element life
    3rd Quarter 2017, Artic Driers International , Pneumatic systems & components
    High quality inline filter casings and the elements they contain, are an essential part of compressed air treatment. They are the primary defence for removing condensed water, particles, oils and vapours ...
  • Valve manifolds with flexible design
    2nd Quarter 2017, SMC Pneumatics South Africa, Pneumatic systems & components
    SMC Pneumatics continues to drive design excellence and application with its SY series of valve manifolds which is manufactured locally at its production facilities in Midrand, Johannesburg.
  • New refrigeration dryer range
    2nd Quarter 2017, Tegnon, Pneumatic systems & components
    Tegnon has introduced the new DE ETM refrigeration dryer range from MTA to the South African and African markets. The DE ETM range is the most energy-efficient dryer range available. The innovative design ...
  • Frequency converters enhance compressor efficiency
    2nd Quarter 2017, Tectra Automation, Pneumatic systems & components
    Bosch Rexroth frequency converters for motors from 750 W to 160 kW provide a simple, accurate and reliable three-phase drive control solution for asynchronous AC motors. Tectra Automation recently supplied ...
  • Pipeline operators rely on Voith coupling technologies
    2nd Quarter 2017, Voith Turbo, Pneumatic systems & components
    Voith connection couplings keep compressor systems operational throughout the USA.
  • Filtration in pneumatic systems
    2nd Quarter 2017, Artic Driers International , Pneumatic systems & components
    Pneumatic valves and cylinders are not cheap, so it makes good financial sense to protect them from premature failure. Water separators have no internal filter element, they rely on centrifugal motion. ...
  • How air preparation is getting smarter
    2nd Quarter 2017, Festo, Pneumatic systems & components
    Air preparation is a critical process as it ensures the clean, stable source of energy that machines need to operate consistently and efficiently. The latest equipment is a leap forward in pneumatics ...
  • 4-axis step motor controller
    2nd Quarter 2017, SMC Pneumatics South Africa, Pneumatic systems & components
    Through listening to and responding to its customers’ ever-changing needs, SMC Pneumatics has introduced the JXC83 controller, which can control up to four electric actuators simultaneously for single ...

Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual


    classic | mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.