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What’s the Right Pressure Instrument Mounting Assembly for Me?

pressure gauge | Pressure Instruments

Options for pressure instrument mounting assemblies can seem overwhelming. There are endless combinations and products, each with its own configurations depending on how you’re using them. You might be wondering how to get the proper assemblies to suit your project’s needs, or even how to start looking in the first place.

During my decade of working in the process industry, I’ve picked up a few best practices to consider when researching pressure instrument mounting assemblies. All of them can help protect your equipment and ensure successful processes. This article will focus on five of the top factors you should be thinking through when choosing the right assemblies.

What Pressure Instrument Mounting Assemblies Do You Need?

You may have started searching and found a variety of pressure instrument mounting assembly variations, so how can you find the right ones for you? You should start by asking what you’re hoping to accomplish and what your project needs to be efficient and accurate. These are just a few of the main considerations to keep in mind before you buy:

          1. Minimize Temperature Error

If you need help preventing or reducing temperature reading errors, there are a few solutions. Low-volume street fittings will reduce the overall fill volume inside the assembly, minimizing the impact of thermal expansion of the fill fluid on the accuracy of the assembly. Typical street fittings are not low volume. When selecting a street fitting, look for a fitting that minimizes internal volume. Ashcroft’s instrument tee used in assemblies comes standard with a low volume design.

 You should also minimize the number of fittings used and make sure that all of your instrument connections are the same size (e.g., all ½ NPT or all ¼ NPT). Temperature error is also minimized by using compact instrument tees or cross fittings. This eliminates the need for “goalpost” configurations, which are bulky, expensive, and prone to damage.

The use of compact tees or cross fittings reduces the internal volume of the assembly and reduces the temperature error of the instrument(s) attached. With elevated process temperature, consider a siphon specifically designed to reduce temperature. Some siphons can reduce process temperature to the instrument(s) from 800 degrees F/427C to less than 150F/66C. Another way to dissipate process temperature is with a minimal length of the capillary. A simple 6-inch length of capillary is capable of reducing process temperature to the instrument(s) with elevated temperatures from 750 degrees F/300C to less than 100 degrees F/38C.

           2. Select Proper Ranges

Multiple-instrument assemblies, specifically gauge/switch combinations, work best when the nominal instrument ranges are similar. When assembling multiple instruments, select ranges that are as close together as possible. Ideally, the operating range of the gauge pointer should be mid-scale of the full-scale pressure range. In some scenarios, this might not be possible. For example, an assembly might need to actuate a switch at very low pressures relative to the pressure range on an indicating instrument.

In cases like this, ensure that the lower-pressure instrument has a proof pressure that exceeds the indicated range of the other instrument, or use a pressure limiting device or PLV (pressure limiting valve) to protect it.

           3. Select the Right Fill Fluid

Glycerin is the most common fill fluid for single-instrument mountings. However, low-volume fittings and many types of accessories have narrow or constricted pathways. It’s best not to use a thick, viscous liquid like glycerin (typically 1,300cSt) in these applications. Use a thinner liquid such as silicone (typically 10 to 50cSt) instead.

 If the process media is a strong oxidizer, the best practice is to use an inert fill fluid such as halocarbon for safety. Also, consider process temperature when selecting fill fluid. Fills like glycerin have temperature limits of 0°F to 400°F (-18°C to 204°C). Silicone temperature limits are -40°F to 500°F (-40°C to 260°C). Other fill fluids are available to meet process temperatures beyond these limits or special application services.

            4. Protect Against Vibration and Pulsation

If your mountings are installed close to a pump system, the pulsing surges of pressure can wear down the instrumentation and make it difficult to get a proper reading. Similarly, vibration can interfere with readability. To extend the life of a gauge, consider a liquid gauge case. Liquid filling dampens the effects of process vibration and pulsation. Liquid-filled gauges typically come standard with a throttle device, which further dampens the effects of pulsation or process pressure surges.

 An alternative to a liquid-filled gauge is a dampened movement gauge like Ashcroft’s PLUS! Performance. This is a dry gauge case that works like a liquid-filled gauge with none of the liquid fill headaches. The use of accessories like pressure snubbers, capillaries and pulsation dampeners is effective in dampening the effects of pressure pulsation.

5. Ensure Instrument and Diaphragm Seals or Isolation Rings are Compatible

There are physical limitations to the pressure that isolators can sense and transmit to attached instruments based on the size and flexibility of the diaphragm. The range being measured must be above the minimum for that isolator. To find instrument compatibility with an isolator, view our min/max guide. When multiple instruments are attached to a single isolator, the minimum pressure ranges may differ. For multiple instrument assemblies with ranges close to these minimums, it is best to confirm with the manufacturer that the assembly will work properly.

What Mounting Assembly Options Are Available?

Next, let’s look at what’s available. I’ve learned over time that the labeling and identification of various mounting assembly options vary between manufacturers in the industry and there isn’t a standard identification system. You can view our selection of pressure instrument assemblies in our brochure .

At Ashcroft, our Assembly Coding Guide is a comprehensive resource describing each of our mounting variations. It includes depictions of assemblies, easy lookup by orientation and connection size, and it includes instructions for correctly coding and ordering mounting assemblies.

 Once you've selected what you need, consider the following options:

  •  Instrument Welded to Isolators

Instrument welding creates a tamper and leak-proof assembly and is used when absolute leak integrity is critical for the safe operation of your process. Welded surfaces must be of like materials. Instruments attached directly to isolators can be welded, and assemblies with capillaries or siphons can be welded at each connection. Certain fittings (e.g. tees, nipples) cannot be welded, nor can snubbers, dampeners, or PLVs.

  • Tamper Evident Sealant

Tampering with fittings can disrupt the fill fluid inside an assembly, causing instruments to read inaccurately or create unwanted shifts in setpoints. A brightly colored, tamper-evident sealant applied at each threaded joint in an assembly signals to an operator that they should not adjust these fittings and can serve as a quick diagnostic check if accuracy issues do arise.

  • Elbow for Vertical Piping

When instruments are installed onto vertical pipe runs, consider using an elbow installed at an isolator for better readability of the instruments.

I know that installation constraints sometimes need custom configurations that aren’t covered by standard assembly offerings. You may require longer fittings, angled connectors or special instrument orientations to ensure that the instruments are readable, and the assembly doesn’t interfere with nearby equipment. For assemblies not included in our guide, you can always reach out to Ashcroft for assistance setting up a custom pressure instrument mounting assembly to perfectly suit your needs.

We don’t like to pressure you, but we have more information. 

Now that you have an idea of what instrument assemblies are available and what they can be used for, your shopping will hopefully become easier. If you want more information, view our webinar to learn more about pressure instrument mounting assemblies.

 And don’t forget that you can always reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Our industry experts at Ashcroft can help you get back on track.

Our website also offers product information pages, white papers, specification sheets, material selection guides, videos, and many other tools to answer all of your instrument questions. Let us be your one-stop shop for pressure instruments!

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About John Varkonda, Product Manager

John Varkonda is the product manager for diaphragm seals and isolation rings at Ashcroft, and has been with the company since 2014. He has over 10 years of experience in the process instrumentation and specialty chemical industries. John holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Connecticut.