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Choosing a Flow Meter: Fundamentals

How to Determine Which Flow Meter is Best for Your Specific Application?

Some know exactly what they want, others have a general idea and are looking for a second opinion. But the majority of our customers are looking for someone with industry experience & factory flow measurement training to help them narrow the available choices down to a single meter or metering technology. If you fall into that last group, you are not alone, the majority of our application calls are for guidance working through all of the available technologies.

Our knowledge of flow properties and flow measurement began with basic all the way through highly advanced flow solutions with variable area flow meters to thermal mass flow controllers.. Our team of Flow & Product Specialists have decades of experience helping our customers navigate to the right and best flow meter for their specific application.

The goal of this flow series is to walk you through the process of flow meter selection. We'll start by covering what you need to know about your application to begin the process of choosing the best flow meter, as well as a general overview of the current technologies available to you from the Instrumentation Group at Cross Company.

The Basics of Choosing a Flow Meter

Every application starts with the basics. There is specific information about your application that you'll need to know to begin the selection process that includes:

- Fluid

- Fluid Properties (viscosity, specific gravity, material compatibility, etc.)

- Preferred Line Size and Connection Type

- Flow Range - Minimum and Maximum Flows

- Flow Units - Gallons, Liters, Cubic Meters, Cubic Feet, etc.

- Do you need a display? If so, will it be mounted locally or remotely?

- Do you need flow rates and flow totals or just flow totals?

- Do you need an output? If so, Pulse or 4-20mA/0-5Vdc?

- Is there power available?

The Type of Fluid Can Determine the Type of Flow Meter

With these few basic application details in hand, we can begin the process of choosing a specific technology. Consider the following to be a general rule of thumb:

- For clean, low viscosity fluids, consider using a turbine, variable area (VA) or transit-time flow meter.

- For clean, high viscosity fluids, your best bet would typically be an oval gear meter.

- For dirty fluids, regardless of viscosity, consider using a doppler meter.

- Alternates to the meters mentioned above include mag meters, vortex meters, differential pressure meters and many others.