How To Calculate Water Flow Measurements For Your Business

Calculate Water Flow Measurements For Your Business
If you're in an industry that has an interest in measuring, monitoring or otherwise calculating the flow of water, you'll ultimately and almost certainly get a mechanical, ultrasonic, vortex volumetric or magnetic water flow meter solution up and running. All of them fall under the family heading of water flow meter, and can be purchased at any reputable supplier e.g. RS Components, which in the end is any instrument capable of measuring the way water flows. The specific one you deploy within your organisation will depend on how you want to measure the water, how your water flow meter works, your budget and the nature of your business operations.

But before we dive into how the particular water flow meter you will use does its calculations, let's explore how to do a flow calculation at the most basic level - and measure the flow of water from a tap.

For this most basic of water flow meters, all you require is a timer and a 1 litre container:
  • Turn the tap on full
  • Get the timer ready, and press 'start' as soon as the container is collecting the water from the flow
  • Stop the timer as soon as the container is completely full.
Imagining the container took 10 seconds to fill, do the following calculation:

1 / 10 * 60 (seconds) = 6 litres per minute average flow rate.

For many organisations and business operations, measuring water flow with integrated, reliable and highly accurate results is nothing short of critical. Whether it's necessary to know that water is flowing at the right place in the right way at the right time for productive operations, product quality, health and safety, or something else entirely, it's important to use the right water flow meter that will do its calculations in an appropriate way for the application.

The four basic types of water flow meter are:

1. Mechanical Flow Meters

This very common technology type works with mechanical components featuring a paddle wheel or propeller in order to measure how fast water is flowing within a pipe. Basically, the water causes the mechanical component to rotate, and because that rotation is directly proportional to the flow, the speed of the rotation is akin to the flow rate. However, these designs fail to function with accuracy when the water flow rate is very low, and the mechanical components require regular maintenance.

2. Vortex Flow Meters

These flow meters work by using sensors that are placed within the water to create vortices. These vortices create a frequency output that - like the simpler mechanical design above - is exactly proportional to the flow rate. The more sophisticated version can monitor multiple variables, including pressure, density and mass flow.

3. Ultrasonic Flow Meters

These flow meters work not with propellers or vortex sensors but with the phenomenon of ultrasonics - or, in other words, sound waves or vibrations. One ultrasonic signal is transmitted upstream, and another is pointed downstream: the time it takes for the respective signals to do their travelling is then compared, which is known as the differential time. This time corresponds to the flow rate.

4. Magnetic Flow Meters

For this flow calculation, a basic law of electromagnetism called Faraday's law is used. The law predicts how a magnetic field interacts with an electric circuit to create a value called electromotive force (EMF). What the magnetic flow meter measures is the amount of voltage generated by the liquid passing through the meter's magnetic field - the faster the flow, the higher the proportional voltage. However, this solution is more appropriate for wastewater or other liquids, because pure water is not conductive.

The way the water flow meters that you ultimately select for your purposes do their respective calculations depends entirely on the type of water that will be measured, the characteristics of the flow, where the flow is measured, the desired features of the flow measurements and the precise variables of your specific application. To be sure, always speak with an expert to advise and guide you as you get your water flow meter solution up and running.
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