Temperature controllers monitor a temperature and output a control signal to a heating or cooling device. The most basic temperature controller, a thermostat, simply starts a device at a preset temperature and stops it when a desired temperature is reached. Most temperature controllers, however, are able to perform calculations involving temperature fluctuations and rates in order to efficiently maintain a desired temperature.
Because the controller is only one part of a larger control system, the system into which it will be integrated is of prime importance and should be analyzed to determine the controller’s specifications. The type of input sensor, type of output signal, and control algorithm must be compatible with the controller to achieve a stable and efficient heating or cooling system.
Temperature controllers may be used in a number of heating and cooling applications, including boiler, furnace, hot runner, HVAC, and laboratory control. While the following video is specific to PID controllers discussed below, it gives a good overview of a temperature controller’s place in a home HVAC system.
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