What to look for when choosing a liquid flowmeter for your lab experiments, is not perhaps as obvious as you might think. This blog post was written to let you benefit from our years of experience to help you avoid making a sub-optimal or even worse a wrong choice.

On a simple level we would recommend that you consider:

  1. What is the reason for the purchase?
  2. What is the proposed function for your flowmeter?
  3. What type of output is required?
  4. What interface does the flowmeter have to communicate with?
  5. Will the flowmeter be specific to one measurement or be required to do more?

Looking at the decision-making process a bit more closely, the first question is “What am I buying this flowmeter for?”  We do not mean the application as such but rather the reason for the purchase.  Is this a one-off experiment after which the device will become redundant and discarded or will the test set-up migrate to a more permanent metering system and perhaps even a production line?  A quick test at 5% accuracy to see if the flow rate is somewhere near your desired level is a very different device to one that has to precisely monitor flow continuously at a later date in an industrial process.  Performance and price are irrevocably linked.   Why buy a 0.5%, £4000 Coriolis meter when a 5% variable area float type flowmeter will suffice at perhaps £40?  However why waste money on purchasing equipment capable of a single measurement when perhaps for a slightly greater investment you could purchase a flowmeter that could be re-used for other experiments at a later date.

What information do I need from the flowmeter?  Do I want just a flow rate indication, total, or a recording of rate over time or something more sophisticated such as flow control or switch points to protect other equipment?  What secondary instrumentation is required and how should the flowmeter communicate with it?

What type of flowmeter output is required?  Many older laboratory instruments use analogue inputs whereas a large number of modern flowmeters give out digital pulses, some very high frequency and some very low dependant on the technology employed.  Can the secondary instrumentation handle the signal and signal type?  Voltage or current level?  Digital PNP, NPN or logic level?  Is a piece of interface equipment required?

Does your proposed flowmeter have to communicate at a higher level directly with some control or interface software such as LabVIEW or Mathcad?  Is a software interface required where individual flow functions can be accessed and/or altered?

Is the flowmeter to be a permanent ubiquitous device for all flow measurements in your laboratory?   If so the demands on the device will be far greater than a specific device for a specific liquid and flow range.  Such a flowmeter should preferably be very accurate with excellent repeatability as well as offering good pressure and temperature ratings.  Does your flowmeter need to have outstanding chemical resistance so that it can handle the widest possible range of liquids and also have a wide dynamic flow range to cover the greatest number of applications with the same device?  To maintain flexible access to the widest possible range of secondary instrumentation options, the flowmeter interface should be universal.

Our customer support staff are very happy to work with you to help you select the best flowmeter for your laboratory use.

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