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October 17, 2014

Capacitive Fluid Level Sensor

at 11:28 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks

Capacitive Fluid Level Sensor


If you need to determine the level of fluid you might think of some type of float switch system like what is typically used in a sump pit or a toilet tank. This Capacitive Fluid Level Sensor by uses a capacitive effect of the fluid to determine the level.

“The advantage of capacitive level sensors is that they can be used for basically any solid and liquid. They have no moving parts and scales incredibly easy. They make no contact to the liquid or solid being measured, and so can also be used for more corrosive liquids. The disadvantage is that they need to be calibrated for the liquid being measured. The capacitive level sensor has the 2 conducting plates in the form of 2 electrically isolated aluminium tubes, a smaller tube in a larger tube. The space between the tubes is the dielectric. When the tube is empty, the space is occupied by air. when the tube starts to fill, more and more of the space will be occupied by water. Water holds more charge than air and thus the capacitance will rise (mostly) linearly with the water level. “



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3 Responses to “Capacitive Fluid Level Sensor”

  1. Tony Says:

    Too much fiddling with the pipe bits.

    Way back in 1997 there was this: http://www.johnloomis.org/ece445/stamp/nv_mag/st_ap27.pdf where Scott Edwards put a couple of adhesive copper strips on a pipe and hooked it up to a Parallax BasicStamp. Perhaps use adhesive heat shrink or another pipe over it to seal it.

    One thing mentioned in the link here is that the capacitance won’t be linear, so 50% water level isn’t 50% capacitance. But eh, close enough.

  2. Jack Unger Says:

    In the late 1970’s, sensor development engineers at Rockwell Automotive Electronics (Troy, Michigan) were developing and testing this technology for fuel level measurement. I’m fairly sure they filed for patents.

  3. Alex Maslow Says:

    Very interesting project. I think that patents are expired because it is old technology.
    Although I would recommend build in termister for permittivity compensation. Like it was done here: http://fuel-sensor.com/en/

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