Vol. Measurement
Chapter Basic Principles of Instrument Calibration and Ranging

Difference Between Calibration and Re-ranging

What is Calibration?

To calibrate an instrument means to check and adjust (if necessary) its response so the output accurately corresponds to its input throughout a specified range.

In order to do this, one must expose the instrument to an actual input stimulus of precisely known quantity. For a pressure gauge, indicator, or transmitter, this would mean subjecting the pressure instrument to known fluid pressures and comparing the instrument response against those known pressure quantities. One cannot perform a true calibration without comparing an instrument’s response to known, physical stimuli.

What is Re-ranging an Instrument?

To range an instrument means to set the lower and upper range values so it responds with the desired sensitivity to changes in input. For example, a pressure transmitter set to a range of 0 to 200 PSI (0 PSI = 4 mA output ; 200 PSI = 20 mA output) could be re-ranged to respond on a scale of 0 to 150 PSI (0 PSI = 4 mA ; 150 PSI = 20 mA).

In analog instruments, re-ranging could (usually) only be accomplished by re-calibration, since the same adjustments were used to achieve both purposes. In digital instruments, calibration and ranging are typically separate adjustments (i.e. it is possible to re-range a digital transmitter without having to perform a complete recalibration), so it is important to understand the difference.