MadgeTech Blog

Data Loggers vs. Chart Recorders

Posted on

Today, the measurement and storage of data is more critical than ever. Companies are heavily reliant on data analysis and recordings to identify errors, points of interest, and ways to make improvements within processes, production, and shipments.

If you’ve looked for ways to measure temperature, you may have noticed that many of the devices available fall into two basic categories: data loggers and chart recorders. This article will help you answer your questions about these two types of devices: what’s the difference, and which is better for your needs?

Strip Chart Recorder

A chart recorder is defined as a device that records electrical or mechanical inputs onto a strip of paper. The chart recorder uses a stylus that archives and plots the data points over a set of timed intervals. Some strip chart recorders may record several inputs at a time using different colored pens.

The strip chart recorder contains a strip or roll of paper that is passed through directly beneath one or multiple pens. As the data changes, each pen or stylus records measurements onto the paper as it is passed through.

One of the most common uses for strip chart recorders is in laboratories and process measurement applications.

Data Logger

A data logger is defined as an electronic device that can record data over the course of a certain time frame. Data loggers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used singularly or together in a system and utilize a computer or software to store information.

Data loggers measure and record physical parameters such as temperature, humidity, shock, and more. Wireless loggers are ideal for real-time, continuous monitoring and offer configurable alarm notifications.

Which is Better?

As they were first introduced to the market, strip chart recorders built a reputation of being easy to use while providing quick, legible results. With companies looking to constantly improve efficiency and quality, strip chart recorders are quickly being overtaken by digital loggers for multiple reasons:

Maintenance and Cost Upfront and ongoing maintenance costs are associated with both strip chart recorders and data loggers. A generic data logger has an average upfront investment of $200-500, depending on the number of channels and parameters being measured. On the flip side, an average strip recorder starts at around $500, not including required accessories such as pens and paper. After the initial purchase, both data loggers and strip chart recorders require annual calibration, as outlined by the manufacturer. However, in addition to this, strip chart recorders also require pen changes, paper replacements, as well as a large amount of storage for the paper records to be stored.

Data download and storage: With chart recorders, getting your hands on your data is easy, as the device prints it out. However, that leaves you with physical copies of your data that you will need physical space to store. If you want to store the data digitally, you will have to find a way to digitalize the physical copies. Data loggers do require a bit of computer know-how and setup, but once they have been configured properly, data download is easy, and the amount of data that you can store is limited only by the size of your computer drive or cloud storage.

Data search and analysis: Because chart recorders produce printed copies of their data, searching through that data requires time and effort, and performing any analysis requires that the data be digitized—or that someone sits down with a pencil and calculator. With data loggers, however, the data is digitized from the start, making it easy for you to search for it, create graphs, or run an analysis in a matter of seconds.

With accurate readings, convenient size and the ability to store, share and provide analysis and statistics, data loggers are proven to be a better choice when compared to chart recorders. Data loggers are low maintenance and have low operating costs which save users both time and money. In the age of convenience, a data logger is there to provide real-time information, right in the palm of your hand.

For more information on data loggers, please contact [email protected].

About MadgeTech Marketing:

Founded in 1996, MadgeTech takes pride in maintaining our production process entirely out of our headquarters in Warner, New Hampshire. Proudly known as an industry expert, MadgeTech data logging solutions are sold in more than 100 countries around the world to the world’s most regulated industries, providing the validation needed for compliance and quality control.