Differential pressure is the difference in pressure between two separate points.
A differential pressure can be measured between two points on independent systems or between two different points on the same system.
The main use for a differential pressure sensor is to measure the difference in fluid or gas pressure across a restriction in a pipe. The flow can then be determined by converting the differential pressure reading with bernoulli’s equation. Since flow is proportional to the square root of the differential pressure in a closed pipe it is sometimes preferred to use a square root output signal from the differential pressure sensor to simplify the conversion to a flow measurement.
Other applications for measuring differential pressure are as follows:
Hydrostatic level measurement of a tank’s content, where the gas at the top of the tank is not vented. The difference in pressure between the bottom and the top is measured to determine the true hydrostatic pressure.
Leakage monitoring by measuring the difference in pressure between a controlled reference pressure and the component under test pressurised to the same pressure.
Airspeed using a Pitot tube which provides two air channels, one for measuring the total air pressure facing the airflow and the other for the static pressure measured perpendicular to the air-flow. The difference between the two channels provides the air velocity pressure. This method is used on aircraft to measure air speed and in wind tunnels to simulate air velocity for testing the aerodynamics of an object.
Differential vs Gauge
When do you need to measure differential pressure instead of gauge pressure?
You would you use a differential when you need to measure pressure between 2 connection points, and when the reference pressure (negative side) is not the same as atmospheric pressure.