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  • Temperature, Humidity or Both, That is the Question

    Historically, temperature monitoring has been one of the most important factors to monitor for sensitive applications.  Whether you’re monitoring server rooms to tell when the AC goes off and jeopardizes costly electronic equipment containing valuable data, or a medical office refrigerator containing perishable vaccines, temperature is one of the most critical parameters to monitor to keep things safe.

    With the advent of low-cost solid state Relative Humidity (RH) sensors, customers with many, diverse applications are reviewing their decision about monitoring humidity as a parameter that may be needed to protect product quality or safety.  For example, servers are generally kept in an air conditioned room, so temperature and humidity are kept at safe levels.  However, a closer look at servers operating in summer months in humid environments has demonstrated that the AC is working very hard to keep temperatures at thermostat set points.    Greenhouses may need to maintain humidity within controlled limits for certain species of plants to thrive.

    While temperatures are maintained within safe operating levels for the most part, RH can creep up significantly as the dehumidification function of the AC system is overwhelmed by 85%-90% humidity.  This is often not a serious problem unless the AC outlet is directly discharging onto electronic racks.  In that case, the rack temperature may be cooled to below the dew point, leading to potential condensation on sensitive electronics.  Over time the condensed moisture will corrode connectors, leading to system performance degradation or, in the extreme, failure.

    Easier to understand may be the case of valuable manuscript storage where extremely high humidity levels may lead to mold or mildew while low levels may lead to paper or parchment cracking.  Here, both would be important to monitor.

    The following table describes various applications where both temperature and RH may be considered and some guidelines as to whether or not adding RH monitoring and alerting may be beneficial.


    Sensor

    Factor

    Importance

    to Monitor

    What is Protected

    Consequence of High/Low Event

    IT/Server Rooms

    Temperature

    High

    Electronics

    IC Failure

    Humidity

    Medium/High

    Electronics Corrosion

    Lab & Medical Refrigerators & Freezes

    Temperature

    High

    Vaccines, Pharmaceuticals

    Ineffective/Defective Medication

    Humidity

    Medium/High

    Ineffective Medication

    Restaurant & Food Distributor Refrigerators & Freezers

    Temperature

    High

    Food

    Spoiled Food,

    Microbe Growth

    Humidity

    Low/Medium

    Food

    Dried Out Food, Spoiled Food

    Homes, Property Management

    Temperature

    Medium/High

    Water Pipes

    Frozen, Broken Pipes

    Humidity

    Low

    Specialized Items

    Varies

    Agriculture

    (Fields, Nurseries)

    Temperature

    High

    Plant Health, Yield

    Frost Damage

    Humidity

    Medium

    Plant Health, Yield

    Unhealthy Plants

    Pets, Livestock

    Temperature

    High

    Animals, Pets

    Sickness, Death

    Humidity

    Low

    Animals, Pets

    Varies

    RV’s parked in Campgrounds

    Temperature

    Low/High

    Pets

    Sickness, Death

    Humidity

    Low

    Pets

    Varies

    Energy Management

    Temperature

    High

    HVAC Systems

    Poor Efficiency ($)

    Humidity

    Medium/High

    HVAC Systems

    Poor Efficiency ($)


    Table 1: Factors to consider when deciding to monitor Temperature and Relative Humidity


    With the low cost of digital RH sensors, adding humidity monitoring can be a cost-effective choice that more and more customers are making.

    For questions or additional information, contact Temperature@lert at info@temperaturealert.com.



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