Two Wire
When accuracy is not critical, a two-wire RTD is the least expensive;
offering. Using lead wires to place any distance between a two wire RTD and a receiving device will further compromise its accuracy. The potential for poor
accuracy from a two-wire RTD stems from its inability to compensate for lead length, resistance that changes the ohm value of the original signal. A two-wire RTD should be used only in applications where the receiving device connects directly to the sensor

Three Wire RTD
Three-wire RTD's compensate for resistance resulting from length differences by adding a third lead to the RTD. To accomplish this requires that the wires match exactly. Any difference in resistance between the lead wires will cause an imbalance, which will compromise the accuracy of the RTD. Lead length variance, work hardening or corrosion, and manufacturing irregularities are errors to avoid. Quality manufacturing is critical to insure balance of all three leads.

Four Wire RTD
Errors caused by resistance imbalance between leads are cancelled out in a four-wire RTD circuit. Four-wire RTD's are used where superior accuracy is critical or if the sensor is installed far from the receiving device. In a four-wire RTD one pair of wires carries the current through the RTD the other pair senses the voltage across the RTD. 2- and three-wire RTD's require heavier lead wire because thicker wire, by creating less resistance to the measured signal, reduces measurement distortion. Therefore lighter gauge wire, less expensive, may be used in four-wire RTD applications. RTD's are limited to temperatures of 1200 ° F and because of the construction of the sensing element, RTD's do not do well in high-vibration and severe mechanical shock environments. When selecting a temperature sensor for an application you should consult your temperature sensor manufacturer for recommendations.


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