An inclinometer is a sensor used for measuring angles, mainly for tilt, slope or elevation of an object with respect to gravity. They are known by several names such as tilt sensor, inclinometer or even pitch & roll indicator. The most common inclinometer is for measuring single axis X or dual axis X & Y axis however on request, the Z axis can be measured using a separate device. All incorporate the latest high-performance MEMs sensing technology and are further enhanced with internal compensation circuitry for high accuracy performance and long-term stability. The only other consideration should be the output required. Current outputs (4-20mA) can be used for long transmissions up to 2000 metres. Analogue outputs are most common having 0-5, 0-10V, 0.5-4.5V or even +/-5 or 10V. Digital output version are available such as RS-232, RS-485, TTL, PWM and CAN.
In general, there are a number of names for Position Sensors:
Frequently Asked Questions about Position Sensors
An or clinometer is a gravity referenced sensor used for the measurement of angles of slope, elevation or depression of an object. With correct selection they can measure horizontally or vertically. Equally they can be used for platform levelling as well as embankment monitoring.
Accuracy of inclinometers is dependent on the technology used within the sensor, tolerances of machined parts and the calibration methods used. The most common technology is MEMS (Micro-electromechanical system) which will offer accuracies between 0.3 degree for an industrial to 0.002 degree for a high accuracy sensor. It is important to remember that the smaller the inclination measured, the better the accuracy that will be derived.
Inclinometers can be made using several technologies and each has its own pros and cons. Most inclinometers are for static applications such as the three types below.
For dynamic applications, or where vibration or accelerations are present the technology used changes. In these cases a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes are used to calculate the angular change of the sensor these often also use MEMS technology. Many of these devices have a digital output and have an internal processor to calculate the inclination angle relative to gravity. Some of these sensors can also be used as an IMU (inertial measurement unit) depending on the output options of the signal.
There are several different technologies used for inclinometers but essentially they all have the same purpose. They measure the inclination, or angle of an object with respect to the force of gravity. This value is given as an output in an analogue or digital signal from the sensor which varies proportionally to the angle and range of the sensor.
Care must be taken to understand digital inclinometer as it can either mean an or have a digital screen which shows the output. By far the most common is an inclinometer with a digital screen, used for levelling in construction. Digital output inclinometers are usually high performance and high accuracy sensors.
There is no real difference between an inclinometer and a clinometer however, clinometers can be used to measure slope and is a more manual device. They have several names including tilt sensor, tilt meter, slope gauge, pitch & roll indicator.
An inclinometer or clinometer is used for measuring slopes or angles of elevation. Some inclinometers have specific ranges and will only be able to measure small angles, whereas others can measure any angle up to a full 360 degrees of rotation. Wider range inclinometers tend to have lesser accuracy so your choice of sensor may not only depend on the range, but also the tolerance or accuracy required of the measurement. So yes an inclinometer can be used as a level within the specified range of the model chosen.
The majority of inclinometers require a reference point to calculate the angle of inclination of a surface or slope. We use the gravitational pull of the earth as the reference and so gravity is required for most inclinometers to operate. Therefore most inclinometers are not suitable for use where there is no, or insignificant gravitational pull.