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FAQ#111 - Why I cannot read correctly my 4-20mA current loop gauge?

It could be a problem connected to the power supply given by the readout or logger. When the power supply is in the current loop (2-wire gauge) it is necessary to consider the effect of voltage drop across the shunt resistor on the voltage applied to the gauge.

For example, suppose a 4-20mA gauge requires at least 12 V to operate correctly and the readout powered with 16 V. The voltage the gauge sees is the voltage supplied by the readout minus the voltage drop in the rest of the current loop. At 20 mA output, the voltage drop across the commonly used 100 ohm resistor is 2 V.

When the voltage supplied by the readout is 16 V, this leaves 14 V for the gauge and everything is fine.
However, if the readout is powered with less than 14 V, at 20 mA current it will leave less than 12 V for the gauge. In this case, the output of the transmitter may be in error.