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What is a barometer sensor?

Introduction to Barometer Sensors

A barometer sensor is an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure, which is the weight per unit area of the vertical column of air above a point on the earth. The barometric pressure at any given location varies continuously due to weather changes and altitude. Barometer sensors allow detection and measurement of these pressure variations.

Barometer sensors are one of the most widely used pressure sensors with applications across weather forecasting, altimeters, scientific research, aerospace systems, industrial processes, medical devices and more. This article provides an in-depth overview of barometer sensor technology, working principles, design considerations and applications.

Working Principle of Barometer Sensors

A barometer sensor works by detecting the force exerted by the atmosphere on a surface due to the weight of the overlying air column. This force gets translated into an electrical signal via different transduction mechanisms.

The main types of barometer sensors based on working principle are:

Aneroid Barometers

These use a flexible metal box called the aneroid cell. As atmospheric pressure changes, the cell expands and contracts which is linked mechanically to a needle that moves over a graduated scale. The most common designs are:

  • Bellows: Consists of corrugated metal disks riveted together to form a pleated, flexible enclosure.
  • Diaphragm: Uses a flattened capsule with a flexible, thin metal diaphragm.
  • Bourdon tube: Has an oval cross-section bent tube that tends to straighten out when pressurized.

While mechanically robust, friction limits measurement resolution and accuracy. Electronic transducers can be added to give digital output.

Manometer Barometers

Uses a U-shaped glass tube partially filled with liquid like mercury or coloured water. Atmospheric pressure pushes the liquid up the tube creating a height difference. The liquid’s height indicates the pressure and is read manually on a scale or automatically using float/optical sensors.

Provides high accuracy but requires careful levelling and temperature compensation. Mostly used for scientific applications due to mercury toxicity.

Capacitive Barometers

Uses a pressure sensitive diaphragm as one of the plates of a capacitor. Applied pressure deflects the diaphragm changing the capacitance, which is measured electronically and converted into a pressure reading.

MEMS barometers use micro-machined silicon diaphragms enabling miniaturized sensors with good sensitivity and low-power operation. Widely used in portable and wearable devices.

Piezoresistive Barometers

Employs a thin silicon diaphragm with piezoresistors implanted on its surface. Applied pressure strains the diaphragm causing the resistors to change values based on the piezoresistive effect. This change is detected electronically as a pressure variation.

MEMS piezoresistive sensors offer better temperature stability than capacitive types. Used for precision measurements.

Other Types

Some other less common types are potentiometric barometers using wound wire potentiometers, and thermal conductivity based Pirani gauges used primarily for vacuum pressure sensing.

Key Components of a Barometer Sensor

While barometer sensor designs can vary based on the sensing principle, they consist of some common components:

  • Pressure sensing element: Detects applied pressure via diaphragm, tube, aneroid cell etc. Choice depends on required performance and environment.
  • Transduction mechanism: Converts physical pressure signal into measurable electrical signal, such as capacitive change, piezoresistor change or mechanical linkage.
  • Signal conditioning circuit: Amplifies small electrical signal to usable voltage levels and applies temperature compensation as needed. Can include functions like linearization, filtering etc.
  • Output interface: Provides output in standard formats like analog voltage, digital interface protocols (SPI, I2C) etc. for interfacing with display, processor or data logger.
  • Calibration data: Sensor-specific data like sensitivity, offsets, temperature coefficients for software compensation. Stored on-chip or provided separately.
  • Packaging: Protects sensor from environment and allows pressure access via ports. Hermetic sealing used for robustness in harsh environments.
  • External components: Additional components like filters, regulators, RF protection can be added as per interface requirements.

Design Considerations for Barometer Sensors

Key parameters that influence barometer sensor selection and use:

Pressure range: Typical sensors measure 300 to 1200 mbar absolute pressure. Range limits depend on sensing element design. Wider ranges needed for altitude changes.

Resolution: Finer pressure differences that can be discriminated. Influences measurement accuracy. Sub-millibar resolution common.

Accuracy: Deviation of indicated pressure from true value including linearity, hysteresis and repeatability errors. Below 1% to 0.01% of full scale typical.

Response time: Time to sense a pressure change. Affected by sensor mechanical design. From less than 1 ms to few seconds.

Environment: Operating temperatures, humidity, vibration, shock etc. Influences choice of sensing element and packaging.

Power: Supply voltage levels, power consumption and modes (active, standby etc). Below 5V and few mW common for portable designs.

Output: Analog, digital (I2C, SPI etc) or frequency output. Digital preferred for electronic integration, analog for simple interfaces.

Size: MEMS sensors allow mm-scale sizes. Bigger sizes provide ruggedness for harsh environments.

Cost: MEMS sensors starting below $1 for consumer devices. High accuracy versions can be $100s.

Common Applications of Barometer Sensors

Weather Monitoring

  • Meteorology applications like forecasting, storm tracking using barometric pressure changes as an indicator of weather patterns.
  • Professional weather stations as well as consumer weather instruments.
  • Can detect altitude changes to predict fronts and atmospheric disturbances.


  • Used in aircraft, drones, rockets etc to determine altitude and vertical speed by measuring pressure changes during ascent/descent.
  • Skydivers use compact wrist altimeters. Hikers use barometric altimeters to measure elevation gain.
  • Radar altimeters complement barometric sensors in aircraft for low altitudes.

Personal Health

  • Smartwatches and fitness bands use MEMS sensors to provide elevation and climb data.
  • Diagnosing conditions like pulmonary edema which cause abnormal pressure changes.
  • Monitoring blood pressure trends.

Navigation Systems

  • Aircraft, missiles use corrected barometric readings for vertical positioning when GPS lacking.
  • Underwater depth gauges and groundwater/soil vapour analysis.

Industrial Processes

  • Vacuum, pressure and gas flow measurements in industrial production and research.
  • Leak testing, batch/fermentation monitoring, HVAC balancing etc.


  • Atmospheric pressure correction of flow meters like mass flow meters.
  • Ground vehicles to gauge torque, engine vacuum.
  • Pressure-based water level sensors.
  • Vibration/acceleration compensation in inertial sensors.

Modern MEMS Barometer Technology

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication has enabled mass production of miniaturized, low cost, low power and highly reliable barometers. Modern MEMS barometers offer:

  • Chip-level monolithic integration of sensing element (capacitive/piezoresistive diaphragm) and analog/digital interface electronics for sensing and calibration.
  • Small adhesive-mountable packages (as small as 1.5 x 1.5 mm) ideal for wearables and mobile devices. Metal cans for robustness.
  • Analog (ratiometric, voltage) or digital (I2C/SPI) interfaces. Use of I2C allows networking multiple sensors.
  • Resolution down to 0.01 mbar with accuracy of 1 mbar. Ultra-fine & stable capacitive sensing elements.
  • Low power consumption, as low as 3 μA quiescent current. Allow always-on background operation.
  • Inbuilt temperature compensation for drift-free operation over wide -40 to 85°C industrial range.
  • Low-cost mass production, high integration and miniaturization ideal for consumer device integration.

Leading MEMS barometer product vendors include Bosch, NXP, STMicro, Infineon, TE Connectivity, Murata etc. Advanced functionality, form factors and cost advantage driving adoption across applications.


Barometer sensors are compact, low-cost devices that provide simple and accurate atmospheric pressure measurements. A variety of sensing principles and technologies exist, with MEMS being the most modern. From weather forecasting to fitness bands, barometer sensors find diverse applications through their ability to detect small pressure changes. Advances in MEMS are enabling next-generation barometers with higher accuracy and reliability for challenging industrial uses.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Barometer Sensors

Here are some common questions about barometer sensors:

Q: How does a barometer sensor work?

A: It measures atmospheric pressure by detecting the force exerted by the air on a surface like a diaphragm or cell. This physical displacement is converted to an electrical signal via capacitive, piezoresistive or mechanical coupling.

Q: What are the different types of barometers?

A: Common types are aneroid, manometer, capacitive MEMS, piezoresistive MEMS barometers. Older designs used liquid column manometers, bourdon tubes or bellows.

Q: What is the typical measurement range?

A: Most barometers measure a range of 300 – 1200 mbar absolute pressure. Wider range sensors are available for altitude variations.

Q: How accurate are barometer sensors?

A: Basic sensors have 1% FS accuracy. High end sensors reach up to 0.01% FS accuracy. MEMS sensors commonly offer 1 mbar accuracy.

Q: What pressure units can barometer sensors measure?

A: They primarily measure in millibars or hectopascals (hPa). readings in psi, atmosphere, Torr, inches of mercury are also possible.

How to identify a suitable barometer sensor

People have had to adjust their home barometer sensors. This is to ensure accuracy with design changes over the years. The design of the sensor entails the type of mercury used. Mercury tends to evaporate and change in volume while using. Since we lose mercury over time, someone needs to recalibrate their home barometer. They do this by adding more liquid once a week or so on average.

Today’s compact sensors, such as our Barometric Pressure Gauge, are more accurate and easier to use. Also, they have a small footprint. It makes them the perfect choice for measuring barometric pressure inside your home. You can also use it in the garage, RV, boat, or even on a sailboat.

Since we seal their components, the sensor reading from the unit is more accurate. It will not change over time concerning air pressure.

Atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude or low pressure at higher altitudes. So, people who live higher than 3000 feet in elevation may want to take their current barometric pressure level when they travel.

These sensors are accurate and small enough to fit into a pocket or handbag.

They are available in various styles and colors. So we can use them in any place to check the barometric pressure. Also, they come with a handy carrying pouch to carry them without damaging them when not in use.

What is a barometer sensor?

We can use this device to measure the atmospheric pressure we live in. The measurement of the atmospheric pressure is quite specific. This device can ensure that you get accurate information about its status. So, the sensors are essential for home users. They use it to paint a more accurate weather picture of their surroundings.

For example, a person may have a barometer sensor installed in their home by the door or at another location. It helps them keep track of different meteorological conditions in their area. The sensor gives them unique information on the temperature and other weather conditions.

To know about this device, it is essential to understand the basics of a barometer. A barometer is a device that measures atmospheric pressure. The barometer used in our homes works on gas, i.e., air pressure. The atmospheric pressure inside our homes can change from one room to another within seconds. Therefore, it makes it essential for us to measure the pressure accurately.

The standard device used to measure atmospheric pressure is the barometer. The nature of this device is similar to an altimeter used in aircraft.

 How a barometric pressure sensor works in the older days


The least expensive home barometer used in the older days depended on a simple liquid column and a sensitive scale. This design is still used today in some models.

The liquid we use depends on the type of barometer. Salt solution and water were the most typical liquids to use as it was easy to find.

The more sophisticated designs use mercury, which is more specific and easier to handle. It also provides accuracy when measuring changes in atmospheric pressure.

Mercury Barometer

The mercury-based barometer’s design depends on a column of mercury. The atmospheric pressure displaces the surface level of mercury in a closed container as it increases or decreases. We use this movement to provide information on its status.

The container that held the mercury was a glass material. It is less likely to react with others used in its construction. The container was full of a nonreactive substance, such as wood chips or asbestos fibers.

It works through balancing a column of mercury. Then, the atmospheric pressure forces the liquid up. This movement provides information on its status.

The variations in the atmospheric pressure affect the surface level of micro-bubbles that dissolve in the liquid. As a result, the mercury column tends to remain level until it reaches a certain point. We have reached an equilibrium between the atmospheric pressure and the mercury column. The mercury column changes in shape as the atmospheric pressure changes. We use this change to provide information on its status.

More people than the other designs use the mercury-based barometer. This is because we can deploy it in a smaller space with better accuracy. However, we use a lot of specific chemicals to maintain this design. As a result, some people are likely to have health problems due to its use.

The water-based barometer used in the older days was also more complicated.

Aneroid Barometer

The design of the aneroid barometer depends on a mechanical-based gauge. It is small and attached to a spring. The gauge moves in response to changes in atmospheric pressure. They are then translated by the spring as information on its status. The height at which we measure the gauge moves by a scale located on its side.

The sensitivity of this design makes it easier to measure low-pressure conditions. This means that it can accurately predict weather patterns.

This design is more accurate in measuring atmospheric pressure than other designs. As a result, it can accurately predict weather conditions. So, it was commonly used in the old days by people who were more interested in the weather.

How an aneroid Barometer

1. It consists of hollow metal or plastic tube held by a metal rod attached to its other end.

2. We place it inside a plastic case that contains the dial and pointer.

3. A weight can balance the open end of the tube, and we connect this weight to a spring used to drive the pointer along.

We can make this design from metal. These are in sizes that can range from 0-10 kg for small homes to 1-20 kilograms for large homes.

The measurement of atmospheric pressure is possible only when we do not seal the barometer location. Sealing off the environment where we find the sensor would mean no changes in atmospheric pressure for it to react to. It results in an inaccurate reading.

This means that we must place the sensor outside an indoor area. It helps it to respond to changes in atmospheric pressure. It is usually positioned on a wall or near a window to receive adequate lighting from outdoors.

MEMS Barometric Pressure Sensor

This type of sensor is also known as an accelerometer. The MEMS works by measuring changes in atmospheric pressure. They provide information on its status.

We place the MEMS sensor, which includes a tiny weight, at the end of a microscopic cantilever beam. The atmospheric pressure causes the beam to change its shape. We use this movement to provide information on its status.

The construction materials for the MEMS barometric sensor have improved over time. As a result, they now provide more accurate results.

The sense of pressure that the sensor receives is proportional to atmospheric pressure. This means that the sensor can predict weather patterns. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have used it in recent times.

This design has improved from traditional designs. It can be more accurate than accurate compared to other designs. This means that the readings it produces are more detailed. It is more precise when compared with those produced by different sensors.

How MEMS Barometric Pressure Sensor works

1. Composed of an integrated circuit, MEMS provides information on its status.

2. Composed of an array of microelectromechanical sensors, these provide information on its status.

3. The sensor also uses a microcontroller to sense atmospheric pressure. It sends it to the display unit. You will see it as a gauge connected to the display unit.

We can also use this sensor in conjunction with other gadgets. They include cell phones and laptops. Of course, this depends on the characteristics and functions of these gadgets.

It is available in digital and analog versions, which differ in the signal they produce.

How modern barometric pressure sensors work

This is the most popular design among people who need to manage the atmospheric pressure in their homes. However, it is different from the older designs. It also depends on a microchip used to provide information on its status.

The microchip, which also houses a battery, works by measuring changes in atmospheric pressure. The microchip reacts to these changes and provides information on its status. We measure the audible sounds produced by this sensor by an oscilloscope. Also, we measure them for use by the microchip to determine the atmospheric pressure.

It does not use any liquid or chemicals and is easier to maintain than the older models. As a result, more people than other devices also use it.

The design depends on using a sensor capable of measuring atmospheric pressure. The sensor can depend on a barometer tube or a catalytic bead design. You may also attach them to an electronic circuit board. The newer models can provide higher accuracy than the older models. This is because they generate more accurate information on their status.

How to read barometric sensor readings

National weather agencies provide the readings from barometric pressure charts and maps. They are always available at local weather offices. These agencies will provide the most detailed information on the current weather conditions. It helps you have a better idea of your prospects. These agencies also provide detailed and precise information about extreme weather conditions. They will also give you their future probabilities.

The readings from barometric pressure sensors depend on the choice of the display unit. This means that you have to ensure that the display unit is compatible with the sensor before using it.

We can read these directly from the display unit when reading digital readings. The readings should be in numbers. It will change depending on the atmospheric pressure.

We will display the reading in millibars or hectopascals (which mean the same thing). Various individuals then use this to make accurate predictions about weather conditions.

It provides the reading in either number or percent. This will depend on the type of weather you are trying to predict. The display unit will also provide the degree of accuracy that individuals need.

There is a lot of controversy about barometric pressure sensors. One of these controversies is their inaccuracies and biases. However, individuals have learned more about them through the articles.

This type of sensor is improving to make it more accurate. This means that there is no controversy about its inaccuracies and biases. These sensors are usually very accurate. The only issue with them is their use in forecasting weather changes.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals can use this design. Furthermore, it has been improving in capacities for many years. This means that you should not consider these sensors unreliable or inaccurate.

Barometric Pressure Sensor Applications

The applications for barometric pressure sensors include weather forecasting. They can provide information on weather changes. But, this depends on the accuracy of the readings they can provide. These sensors are also used in homes to measure atmospheric pressures. They inform users about the state of their homes.

We do not use this design as much as in years past. However, it has already improved upon traditional designs. For example, they provide accurate readings about atmospheric pressures and weather changes.

1. Weather forecast and predictions

The ability of the sensor to predict weather changes makes it suitable for use in forecasting weather conditions. Businesses also use these sensors to provide their customers with weather reports. They offer essential reports to their future choices. These reports usually come in real-time. Many people can access them daily, depending on local conditions.

These reports also help people make better decisions about their plans. Many people have used these reports in recent years and have proven very accurate. The sensors used in these predictions provide information. They provide information on atmospheric pressure and changes in weather patterns. They are the two most important factors for weather forecasting. We usually mount these devices on top of structures that can reach thousands of feet into the air. They provide their readings at a height where we can see atmospheric pressure changes.

2. Smartphone applications

The smartphone applications used by individuals are also beneficial. These applications include weather apps. They can provide information about upcoming changes in weather patterns. This is useful to individuals who want to look at the incoming changes before planning their future events. Employers also use these devices to provide their workers with the best possible forecast of their future work plans.

It gives them a better chance of avoiding workplace accidents and difficulties. These applications will also provide information on accurate weather forecasts. They are instrumental in preventing workplace accidents. This type of application is quite helpful to the general public. They can use it to make themselves more aware of the changes going on around them without going outside. This kind of information is precious for individuals who are too busy to leave their homes but still want to make accurate plans for their future.

3. Car Engines

We can also use the car engines to read the level of atmospheric pressure. It provides helpful information regarding the changes in atmospheric pressure. Drivers can then use this information to ensure that their vehicle is ready for the changes before driving. Drivers can also use this information to prevent damages to their vehicles or accidents that could lead to injuries.

This type of application is quite helpful to drivers. It lets them make sure that their vehicles are working correctly before leaving their homes or workplaces.

Factors to consider when choosing a suitable barometric pressure sensor

Several factors to consider when selecting the best barometric pressure sensor include:

Pressure Precision:

The pressure precision of the barometric pressure sensor should be around a few percent. So it is the margin that you would like to leave between the acceptable and the unacceptable range of reading.


This factor is also essential when selecting a barometric pressure sensor. It assures that it provides reliable readings which are accurate and not biased in any way.


The readings of the sensors should be in numbers or percent. But it depends on how accurate you need your readings to be for specific uses.

Pressure and Temperature Range:

This is also essential when selecting a suitable barometric pressure sensor. The readings you need should be available at various pressures and temperatures. However, this depends on your specific needs.

The range of pressures you need should be within the acceptable range provided by the sensor. It helps your equipment work correctly without causing any problems with your equipment.

Power consumption:

The power consumption of the sensors is also essential. It will determine how long they will last daily. If the sensor consumes too much power, it will not last for a very long time, and you may need to replace it more often.

In cases where batteries are not available, you can use energy from an AC voltage source. This will power the sensors when we place them appropriately within your periodical weather concerns system.

Size of sensor:

The size of the sensor will depend on the type of equipment or device we will use. Therefore, you should consider the space you need to put the sensor in before buying one.

The mounting options available for these sensors should be helpful when we need to use them. In addition, they should be beneficial in various locations that may not have enough space.


The price of the barometric pressure sensor is also an essential factor to consider. It will determine how much you will spend on the device when you buy it. Cost-effective options are available for all customers. They include people who do not want to spend too much money. However, you should make sure that you buy the one within your budget. You do not incur any losses due to high maintenance or replacement costs.

Limitations of Barometer Sensor

Barometer sensors are helpful in many situations, but they can also have limitations. For example, the sensor will only provide the pressure of the air in the surrounding environment. It will not provide any other information about the surrounding air temperature. Some barometric pressure sensors are better at providing this information than others, depending on how we use them.

If the air temperature is below freezing, then the readings provided by the sensor will be inaccurate. You will have to determine this by making your observations.

Suppose you use a barometric pressure sensor to track your home or workplace air pressure changes. In that case, it is beneficial to show you any changes that may affect your security. The available pressure sensors provide accurate readings about the change in air pressure. This will give you the information you need to ensure that your buildings, vehicles, or other equipment are working correctly.

When working with barometric pressure sensors, there are also certain limitations to consider. For example, barometric sensors are sensitive to interference from electromagnetic frequencies. This is because of the changes in electromagnetic fields. Therefore, it results in false readings if they interfere with the measured values. Also, any sensor movement will likely affect the measurements that it is providing.

Examples of Barometer Sensor for you

1. Grove – Barometer Sensor (BMP280)

The Grove barometer sensor is the most used barometric pressure sensor. Many people all over the world use it. This device is available in various forms and sizes to use in many ways. In addition, the known devices can be either open or sealed. It means we can place them either inside or outside to provide accurate readings. Either way, this product provides accurate readings. They depend on a sensitive measuring mechanism. This gives you precise information about atmospheric pressure changes.

2. Grove – BME280 Temperature Humidity Barometer

This type of device is a state-of-the-art sensor equipped with a high level of technology. It makes it very easy for you to get accurate readings. Depending on your needs, we can use this product in different ways. They provide either temperature and humidity readings or barometric pressure. We can also use this device as a sensor in various other applications. It is not limited to providing accurate atmospheric pressure readings.

3. Grove – High Precision Barometric Pressure Sensor (DPS310)

If you are looking for a quality barometer to use in your weather forecast system, then this product is one of the most suitable options to consider. This device has a clear display so that you can easily read the data on its screen. In addition, the readings it provides are accurate. It means that you will never have to worry about incorrect readings.

This type of device is ideal for individuals who want to measure atmospheric pressure on the go. It does not need much time to build or set up.


Despite the popularity of these sensors, you should always ensure that you buy the best barometer. Buy a barometer that can match your needs. This will ensure that you get accurate and reliable readings. It then ensures that your weather forecast system is functioning correctly when needed.




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