Everything You Need to Know About Ultrasonic Wind Sensors

In this article, experts of the Calibration Laboratory at Lufft, explain what separates ultrasonic wind sensors from other sensor types.

Whether laser, mechanical or ultrasonic wind measurements, all measuring methods have technical limits. For mechanical wind sensors, the measuring element itself, such as vanes and cups, primarily causes a disturbance in the flow field. Whilst for ultrasonic anemometers, the housing construction or sensor holder can cause disturbances.

Only optical methods, such as LDA (Laser Doppler Anemometer), allow disturbance-free measurements of wind speeds to be taken. However, to achieve this, particles are required, and these devices are difficult to maintain and are expensive.

Mechanical wind sensors, like vane models, are constantly moving – even under persistent wind conditions. Vane and cup systems always have a certain inertia, making it impossible to capture short wind gusts.

ultrasonic wind sensors

Image credit: OTT HydroMet

In comparison, ultrasonic wind sensors like the VENTUS-UMB have significant advantages; for example, there are no moving parts to wear out. Lufft VENTUS-UMB measures and reports real-time, precise values every quarter of a second (0.25 seconds).

In instances where this is too fast, the output rate can, of course, be reduced. Additionally, even in considerably hostile environments, built-in heating keeps it ice-free.

Disturbances are caused by the sensor housing construction, bars, and fixtures. They can be smoothed by the long distances over which the ultrasonic signal travels.

wind tunnel

Image credit: OTT HydroMet

On the other hand, all Lufft ultrasonic anemometers undergo elaborate adjustment processes in the wind tunnel to identify and correct all kinds of influences. This allows us to eradicate any interfering influences. All test results are logged in a calibration protocol that, by default, is included in the scope of delivery.


Image credit: OTT HydroMet

Lufft stands out by providing this service; other ultrasound device manufacturers only carry out a so-called “zero runtime check” or a synthetic adjustment (without wind).

The figure above demonstrates the measurements of a WS500 compact weather sensor’s ultrasonic wind sensor over three years. The wind speed is plotted on the x-axis, with measurement deviations by the weather sensor on the y-axis. The dotted lines represent the specification.

Taking into account the measurement uncertainty of wind tunnels – scattering is normal here. The result is clearly within the specification for each year measured, meaning the device still records accurate measurements – even after three years.

wind sensors

Image credit: OTT HydroMet

The long-term stability of the sensor has a positive effect on operating costs. Mechanical wind sensors are not as expensive to attain but are replaced much earlier compared to ultrasonic models. 

The cost of ownership of digital versions generally results in considerably lower costs than mechanical ones. For this purpose, it is recommended to look closely at Abraham Aguilar’s cost-benefit analysis.

Note: In the context of traceability and measurement certainty, the environmental sensor should nevertheless be calibrated on a regular base.

This information has been sourced, reviewed, and adapted from materials provided by OTT HydroMet.

Lufft is one of OTT HydroMet's strong brands for professional environmental monitoring. For more information on this source, please visit OTT HydroMet. 

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