Thermocouples are temperature sensors suitable for use with any make of instrument designed or programmed for use with the same type of thermocouple. Thermocouples are based on the principle that when two dissimilar metals are joined a predictable voltage will be generated that relates to the difference in temperature between the measuring junction and the reference junction (connection to the measuring device). The selection of the optimum thermocouple type (metals used in their construction) is based on application temperature, atmosphere, required length of service, accuracy and cost. When a replacement thermocouple is required, it is of the utmost importance that the type of thermocouple type used in the replacement matches that of the measuring instrument. Different thermocouple types have very different voltage output curves. It is also required that thermocouple or thermocouple extension wire, of the proper type, be used all the way from the sensing element to the measuring element. Large errors can develop if this practice is not followed.

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