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What is a Thermistor?
Thermistors (thermal resistors) are temperature dependent variable resistors. There are two types of thermistors, Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) and Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC). When the temperature increases, PTC thermistor resistance will increase and NTC thermistor resistance will decrease. They exhibit the opposite response when the temperature decreases.
Both types of thermistors are used in a variety of application areas. However, here the focus will be on using NTC thermistors to measure temperature in microcontroller based applications.
The following NTC thermistor parameters can be found in the manufacturer's data sheet.
This is the thermistor resistance at the temperature specified by the manufacturer, often 25°C.
Indicates how much the resistance can vary from the specified value. Usually expressed in percent (e.g. 1%, 10%, etc). For example, if the specified resistance at 25°C for a thermistor with 10% tolerance is 10,000 ohms then the measured resistance at that temperature can range from 9,000 ohms to 11000 ohms.
A value that represents the relationship between the resistance and temperature over a specified temperature range. For example, "3380 25/50" indicates a beta constant of 3380 over a temperature range from 25°C to 50°C.
Beta constant tolerance in percent.
Minimum and maximum thermistor operating temperature.
When the temperature changes, the time it takes to reach 63% of the difference between the old and new temperatures.
Thermistors are subject to self-heating as they pass current. This is the amount of power required to raise the thermistor temperature by 1°C. It is specified in milliwatts per degree centigrade (mW/°C). Normally, power dissipation should be kept low to prevent self-heating.
Maximum power dissipation. It is specified in Watts (W). Exceeding this specification will cause damage to the thermistor.
Table of resistance values and associated temperatures over the thermistors operating temperature range. Thermistors operate over a relatively limited temperature range, typically -50 to 300°C depending on type of construction and coating.
All of our thermistor data loggers can use either factory equation with user programmable temperature coefficients or a custom equation you provide. Please visit the related product pages for details.