data logger

What is a Data Logger? The 2022 Guide

Data loggers have made their mark globally, and we expect this to continue in 2022, as more and more items require monitoring environmental conditions during manufacturing, shipping, and storage. If you have just started your research about these devices, this article is your quick guide in the world of data loggers.

What is a data logger?

A data logger, also known as a data recorder, is used for monitoring factors like the voltage, temperature, humidity, or speed. It is a small electronic device that is customizable depending upon the user’s needs. It is cost-effective and assists with data accumulation through sensors and digital processors.

Data loggers can record data for protracted periods. The data collected is used for analysis, quality control, research, and study. Because the device collects information over an extended period, users can make informed, educated decisions.

What types of data loggers are available?

There are different types of data loggers depending upon the consumer’s need. Cold storage and cold chain facilities for pharmaceutical products will need data loggers to assist temperature monitoring. The automobile industry uses data loggers that can record the emission of gases from vehicles. Shipment industries use data loggers that can detect shock and movement.

Some data loggers provide single input information, while others might come with multiple inputs. Similarly, there are data loggers with one sensor dedicated to recording a specific environmental characteristic, while some specialized data loggers offer numerous sensors for measuring different parameters.

Some common types of data loggers include:

  • voltage data loggers
  • electrical data loggers
  • shock data loggers
  • vibration data loggers
  • current data loggers
  • temperature data loggers
  • GPS loggers

Some data loggers come with a primary memory card or flash disk interface. Many manufacturers have also developed data loggers that use wireless technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth for real-time remote data sharing.

Top players in the industry opt for customized data loggers to precisely match their requirements. Depending upon the data logger type and the features, the device is available in a wide range of pricing.

How do they differ from data acquisition systems (DAQ)?

Whenever there is a need for gradual data recording over an extended duration, many businesses prefer data loggers over DAQ systems. DAQ systems are instrumental in cases where there is a need for high-speed recording. Unlike DAQ systems, data loggers are less expensive and more convenient to employ.

A DAQ system takes dynamic and static measurements; this is why they can gather both high and low-speed sampling. They consist of a high-powered computer and a built-in system that offer high signal conditioning and allow various sensors to establish a connection. Businesses prefer DAQ systems for short-duration tests extended over seconds and hours.

Opposite to data loggers, DAQ systems act as short-duration tests that go on for minutes or hours. They are more rapid in terms of sample rates than data loggers. Their sample rates go about 100kS/S (kilo samples per second), 200kS/S, and 1MS/S (million samples per second) per channel.

Data loggers can handle relatively slow signal measurements. They are instrumental in recording these signals for long periods like days, weeks, months, or even years. Data loggers are installed in fixed locations to measure parameters over extended durations and write the collected data to removable memory devices or upload it to external storage.

There are limited inputs in a data logging system like temperature, voltage, humidity, and a few other measurable parameters. So we can think of data loggers as similar to DAQ since they fulfill the need for data monitoring and acquisition, but there are significant differences in how they function.

What can they sample, and what are their sampling rates?

Manufacturers design data loggers to capture slow signals like temperature, humidity, air quality, or conditional factors that gradually change over time. Some data loggers monitor for glitches and short circuits. These are sporadic and may only occur once or twice over several days, weeks, or months.

The sample rates of data loggers are one sample per second up to 100 samples per second per channel. Data loggers can be installed in limited storage spaces and yield monitoring and recording facilities for a long time.

How much data can they store?

Data loggers store all the monitored and recorded data in their internal memory. Data loggers measure memory in kilobytes or megabytes. The storage capacity of data loggers differs depending on the model and features.

Some data loggers have a large memory but poor battery life. They need periodic manual inputs to ensure enough power to function appropriately. Many data loggers offer real-time data recording through wireless connections and GPS. Because the device automatically uploads to a computer, its storage capacity is relatively large.

With data logger manufacturers developing new technologies for 2022, many of the recent more advanced data loggers directly upload the data to cloud servers. However, the storage capacity of a basic data logger still depends on the size of its internal memory or a removable memory card (SD card).

How do they offer real-time monitoring?

Most data loggers used for shipment, environmental control, and storage facilities come with a wireless interface, while others installed in factory settings come with WiFi or a wired system. We attach these systems to devices like mobile phones, laptops, and computers that access real-time data simultaneously to the data logger’s monitoring process. Many data loggers offer real-time monitoring through a built-in LCD that lets users see the most current measurements.

What types of environments are they used in?

There is no limit to the environments where we can utilize data loggers. Manufacturers of various goods can install data loggers in multiple settings, from measuring workers’ health and security in manufacturing spaces to monitoring air quality and temperature in hospitals and the healthcare sector. They have recently been installed on highways and roads to help the government with urban planning via a data-centric approach. 

With the talks of sustainability, energy conservation, and an awareness of the various environmental factors influencing different industries, data loggers have been instrumental in adhering to conscious and responsible decision-making. Data loggers have a broad potential to help numerous industries work with an informed and statistical approach. Unlike manual data collection, data loggers offer precision. This approach will enable a variety of industries to achieve the best processes by utilizing the accumulated data effectively.