Standalone vs PC-Dependent Data Loggers
When selecting a data logger there are a few factors to consider to make sure you’re getting the recording and storage capabilities you need. Ultimately you have to retrieve the data from the data logger, so do you want to keep the logger hooked up to your PC or do you plan to bring a Flash drive to the computer to download data? To help you speed through the selection process, the Applications Specialists at CAS DataLoggers have put together a quick data collection comparison to narrow down your search.
PC-Dependent or Standalone?
While many data loggers are designed for fixed installation, others are made for more portable applications. For example will the logger be used in a lab or will it need to be durable enough to withstand outdoor or industrial environments? Remote data loggers simplify data retrieval but tend to be pricier and aren’t feasible for every facility. It’s good to consider these sorts of factors before going into the vast range of manufacturers and products available on the market.
Some data logger models need to be cabled to a PC to record and save their readings. Connection to PC is fine if you’re working in a non-critical application, for example if you’re collecting data for informal research or trying to identify a harmless anomaly. These data loggers usually can’t handle high-speed applications, and many PC-dependent data acquisition systems take up PC system resources during operation.
For more vital applications such as machine monitoring, process alarming or temperature monitoring for regulatory purposes, a USB Data logger is often much more suitable. The typical standalone model is lightweight and can be installed just about anywhere, which makes sensor placement and data retrieval easier.
What are the Benefits of Standalone Operation?
Standalone data loggers are especially convenient for temperature monitoring is industries such as cold chain supply, medical monitoring, etc. The loggers collect and store data on their own which frees up workers for other duties, and all data can be collected directly onsite. This broadens users’ range of applications (i.e. environmental, heavy industrial etc).
Additionally, some of these data loggers offer internal batteries allowing them to be used where AC power is not available, and built-in buttons or keypads will allow stand-alone operation. This feature allows you to save time and configure the devices in the field.
If someone will be checking the logger periodically to see the most current data, ensure that your model has a visible LCD display which shows measurements from a distance, whether in dim lighting, underground, or outdoors. This will especially help when presenting the data to clients, instructing personnel in its use, or when showing your project to others.
Should You Go With a USB Data Logger?
There are many different models of loggers that store data to a USB-compatible memory stick allowing easy transfer to a PC for analysis and archiving. This convenient capability lets you easily collect the data whenever the data logger’s memory is full instead of checking the readings every hour or day.
A good example are the T&D LAN-Networked Temperature Data loggers which have a logging capacity of 8,000 data sets along with a USB port so it’s easy to transfer your data to a PC for later graphing and analysis.
For a low-priced solution, the Lascar EL-USB series consists of compact data loggers with different models for temperature, humidity and voltage. Their portability and USB port are ideal for basic data collection.
Will You Need Portability?
If you need a portable data logger to take measurements in the field, laboratory or factory floor, there are many different models that are perfect for these applications. Common parameters such as temperature, humidity voltage, current, pressure and force can all be measured with portable data loggers. USB models aren’t necessarily single-purpose, either. For example our VersaLog Combination Data Loggers are multi-use and can monitor and alarm related values such as temperature/humidity, current/voltage, etc.
For an even more flexible solution, Universal Input Data Loggers are great for logging nearly any physical or electrical value including Temperature, AC Voltage, Current, Bridge, Strain, Event (or State), Frequency, Level, Process Voltage/Current, PH, Relative Humidity, RTDs, Pulse, Serial and more. The dataTaker DT8x family of intelligent universal data loggers have a built-in slot for a USB memory stick to store and transfer data and programs to a PC. They provide a user-friendly solution for the most demanding data logging applications in industry, environmental projects, and research.
How Much Memory Will You Need?
When looking at a standalone datalogger, it helps to ask about the device memory. Depending on your application, you may only need to capture a few minutes’ worth of data or you may want a large enough memory to store several months of readings. You can determine the amount of data storage required by multiplying the number of channels by the sample rate and recording duration:
Total # of Data Points = # of Channels x Sample Rate x Recording Duration
Depending on the data logger, there may be a limit based on the total amount of internal memory or the logger may offer the option of using external memory such as a USB memory stick to expand the available memory.
Lastly, before you make your choice of manufacturer and model, make sure you speak with a trusted solutions provider to find out how to get the ideal device for your specific application at the most affordable price. A good provider will be familiar with their products to give you help over the phone and can show you specifications and capabilities. Make sure your provider also offers value-added services such as free technical support in case you run into an issue.