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What’s the Difference between Data Loggers and Data Acquisition?


In two words: Not much. But it was not always so. There was a time not long ago when significant differences existed between these two basic system types. Consider the following typical data logger features versus its data acquisition cousin:

  • Data loggers were battery powered.
  • Data loggers were higher resolution devices.
  • Data loggers recorded to their own memory.
  • Data loggers operated at very slow sample rates.

These distinctions have blurred over the last twenty years or so due mainly to technology advancements. For example, there used to be a huge cost difference between high speed and low speed, as well as high and low resolution analog to digital converters. Today, those differences have nearly been erased. A manufacturer can choose a high speed, high resolution and low power solution and deploy it as either a data logger or data acquisition solution at its discretion. Furthermore, much greater levels of integrated circuit density and functionality have allowed previously complex designs to be reduced to only a handful of ICs. From a firmware perspective, open source stacks that offer turnkey support for SD memory cards, Ethernet, WiFi, etc. may be implemented on nearly a whim by the manufacturer because of minimal development time and expense.

So while we continue to internally distinguish between “data acquisition” and “data logger”, we’re careful to not assume that those distinctions are held by current and potential customers. Just tell us what you need, and we’ll recommend the best product solution, however it’s classified.


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  1. Avatar
    Prof. Kasbe V.G.
    Posted October 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm Permalink

    dear sir ,
    We are required to meausre the temperatures in the casting die at 08- 10 places and tobe recorede with respect to time. temperature is 10 to 1ooo degree selcius. pleasue suggest the cheaper instrunent for the same.

    Prof. kasbe

  2. Avatar
    Posted March 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm Permalink

    I need to monitore AC Voltage ( 1 or 3 phase )lines constinuously in order to find energy distributor supply fails .
    Data logger is low price, but it has  the need of a manual memory download every time that it is full.  We need to press a buttom every time to get stored data.

    Data Acquisition systems are more expensive than  Data logger but are able  to continuosly signal monitoring.
    My question is: Isn´t there  any data logger model with continuous monitoring and automatic storing on a PC software?
    Repeating the need: to monitore and record AC Voltage on a PC  in order to get the energy health?
    Many thanks,

    • Posted August 4, 2016 at 12:04 pm Permalink

      There are data loggers that provide continuous sampling, but in the context of your application it gets complicated. Multi-phase, ac measurements require a continuous sampling rate of about 1 kHz per channel if the source is 60 Hz. That’s a lot of data, and you limit your choices to only high-speed data loggers (a narrow selection.) The better approach is to use rms converters that convert 60 Hz ac to a dc level that is proportional to the rms value of the applied signal. That relieves the sampling rate burden on the data logger and expands product options. This product combination works, for example:

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