Industrial Utility Efficiency

Selecting the Optimal Dew Point Sensor for Compressed Air Dryers

Compressed air is a vital utility in various industries, powering pneumatic tools, machinery and processes. However, the inherent moisture content in compressed air can pose significant challenges, leading to corrosion, equipment malfunction and compromised product quality. To mitigate these risks, proper compressed air treatment is essential, typically involving the use of compressed air dryers to remove moisture. This comprehensive guide will examine the key considerations for selecting the most suitable dew point sensor for a compressed air dryer system, with the objective of achieving optimal performance and reliability.


Understanding the Importance of Dry Compressed Air

Compressed air is inherently humid, containing varying levels of moisture depending on factors such as ambient conditions and the compression process. While water and oil separators can effectively remove bulk liquids, a dedicated compressed air dryer is necessary to reduce the moisture content to acceptable levels. The failure to maintain dry compressed air can result in a range of detrimental effects, including corrosion of equipment, reduced process efficiency and product contamination.


Humidity can cause damages in a compressed air system, e.g. rust.


Types of Compressed Air Dryers

Compressed air dryers are classified into two main categories: refrigerated dryers and desiccant dryers. Refrigerated dryers, the most common type, use cooling to condense moisture from compressed air, typically achieving dew points around +37.4°F (+3°C) Td (temperature dew point). In contrast, desiccant dryers employ adsorbent materials to remove moisture, enabling lower dew points ranging from -76°F Td to -148°F Td (-60°C Td to -100°C Td). The choice between these dryers depends on the specific application requirements, with desiccant dryers commonly used in critical processes demanding ultra-dry compressed air.


The Role of Dew Point Sensors

Dew point sensors play a crucial role in monitoring the effectiveness of compressed air dryers and ensuring the compressed air remains within the desired dew point range. These sensors measure the temperature at which moisture begins to condense from the compressed air, providing valuable insights into the compressed air quality and dryer performance. By promptly detecting deviations from the target dew point, dew point sensors enable proactive maintenance and intervention, preventing potential damage and downtime.


Considerations for Selecting Dew Point Sensors

1. Installation Method
The manner of installation of dew point sensors has a significant impact on their accuracy and reliability. One possible method is to mount the sensors directly into the compressed air line with threaded process connections, thereby ensuring direct exposure to the compressed air stream for rapid response times. An alternative approach is to use optional measurement chambers equipped with purge airflow, which provide a constant compressed air supply to the sensor. This is particularly suited to applications where direct installation is impractical.

2. Measuring Range
Selecting an appropriate measuring range is of critical importance to ensure the accuracy and reliability of dew point measurements. While sensors with a wide range of capabilities –  extending from -148°F Td to +68°F Td (-100°C Td to +20°C Td) –  offer versatility, they may be prohibitively expensive for applications with specific dew point requirements. The selection of a measuring range that aligns with the dew point range of the dryer system optimizes both accuracy and cost-effectiveness, ensuring the sensor provides actionable data within the desired range.

3. Signal Output
Dew point sensors offer a variety of signal outputs to communicate dew point measurements to monitoring systems or control devices. These include 4-20 mA analog signals, digital signals such as Modbus/RTU, and integrated alarm units with visual and audible alerts. The selection of an appropriate signal output depends on the compatibility with existing monitoring systems, as well as the level of automation and control required for the application.

4. Calibration and Accuracy
It is of the utmost importance to ensure the accuracy of dew point measurements to maintain the integrity of compressed air systems. Dew point sensors should undergo regular calibration to maintain accuracy over time. Some advanced sensors feature self-calibration capabilities or allow for field calibration adjustments, which minimizes downtime and ensures consistent performance. Additionally, selecting sensors with high-precision measurement capabilities enhances confidence in the data obtained, especially in critical applications where precision is paramount.

5. Environmental Factors
Environmental conditions, such as temperature and pressure, can influence the measurement of the dew point. Therefore, it’s necessary to select the dew point sensors based on their ability to withstand a wide range of operating conditions and environmental factors. In addition, it’s important to consider factors such as vibration, humidity and exposure to contaminants, which can affect the performance and longevity of the sensors. By choosing sensors with robust construction and suitable environmental protection ratings, it’s possible to ensure reliable operation in diverse industrial environments.

6. Integration with Monitoring Systems
It is of the utmost importance dew point data be integrated seamlessly with existing monitoring and control systems. To achieve this, it’s necessary that dew point sensors be compatible with industry-standard communication protocols such as Modbus/RTU, Profibus or Ethernet/IP. This allows for the straightforward integration of the sensors with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and building management systems (BMS). This enables the implementation of a centralized monitoring system, remote access capabilities and data logging functions, thereby facilitating the implementation of proactive maintenance and troubleshooting strategies.

Connection dew point meters at different locations throughout a compressed air system with a data logging and monitoring solution. Click to enlarge.


7. Real-Time Data Analysis and Reporting
Advanced dew point sensors may offer features for real-time data analysis and reporting, providing valuable insights into compressed air quality trends, system performance and energy efficiency. These sensors may include built-in data logging capabilities, allowing for historical data retrieval and trend analysis. Additionally, cloud-based monitoring platforms or software solutions enable remote access to dew point data from any location, empowering users to make informed decisions and optimize system operation.


Training and Education Resources

It is of paramount importance to educate operators, maintenance personnel and engineers about the principles of dew point measurement and sensor technology. This is because it enables the effective use of dew point monitoring systems. Training programs, workshops and educational resources provided by sensor manufacturers, industry associations and technical institutes can assist users in gaining a deeper understanding of dew point measurement principles, sensor selection criteria and best practices for installation, calibration and maintenance.


A contaminated dew point sensor. Calibration and service of measurement instrumentation plays an important role in reliable dew point monitoring.


Conclusion: Empowering Compressed Air Systems With Advanced Dew Point Monitoring

The selection of the most appropriate dew point sensor for compressed air dryers necessitates a comprehensive evaluation of several factors, including the installation requirements, measuring range, signal output, calibration, environmental factors, integration capabilities and advanced features. By leveraging advanced sensor technologies and considering the specific needs of the application, users can optimize the performance, reliability and efficiency of compressed air systems while minimizing the risks associated with moisture contamination. The investment in high-quality dew point sensors, coupled with ongoing training and education, empowers organizations to proactively monitor compressed air quality, mitigate operational risks and achieve greater productivity and sustainability in their industrial processes.


About the Author

Simon Gleissner has over a decade of experience in measurement technology for compressed air and gases. He is the Product Manager for in-house software developments, as well as Product Manager for compressed air quality and purity measurement tools. He is also responsible for the German operations of SUTO iTEC, acting as Managing Director since 2019.



SUTO iTEC is one of the market leaders in measurement technology for compressed air and gases. With more than 20 years of experience in dew point meters, its research & development teams are creating outstanding products used by companies all over the world. Innovations like developing its own QCM sensor element and combing it with a polymer sensor into a single measurement device are making the difference. Its motivation is to create new products to solve common problems and satisfy customer needs. For more information, visit

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