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Tips On Proper Sensor Selection


Work closely with racing customers to direct them to the best-suited race sensors for their specific applications.

By Ilona French

Sensors, which can be deployed in a variety of applications throughout a race vehicle, should be carefully selected depending on what the customer requires not only for functionality and performance, but also in financial terms.

“If a range of sensors are available that cover a range of costs, with varying functionalities, the retailer should carefully consider what the application is, and select the most suitable sensor,” advised James Shingleton from bf1systems, Norfolk, United Kingdom. “We see cases where sometimes teams are running the highest specification sensor available, but do not necessarily need that spec part, and could have gotten the same result from using a better value part with a slightly lower specification, thus saving the team money, and potentially allowing them to fit other sensors. We see similar cases with wiring harnesses, where retailers will quite often default to autosport specification connectors all of the time, when actually alternatives could be used, and would not affect the end result.”

AEM Performance Electronics in Hawthorne, California, sells high-quality stainless steel sensors, as well as more affordable brass sensors. While both provide the same respective data, the accuracy of AEM’s stainless steel sensors is +/- 1 percent of full scale, versus an accuracy of +/- 3 percent of full scale for its brass sensors. “The point is to know what your customers are using their sensors for,” said Lawson Mollica. “If they are using it for tuning data with a standalone, then our stainless steel sensors are the best option; but if they need a sensor for a monitoring gauge, then the brass sensor is fully adequate. Also, with respect to pressure and temperatures, it is important to know the range that the customer will be seeing to ensure the sensor range meets their requirements and won’t max the duty cycle.”

Motorsports sensor manufacturers, most of whom have considerable knowledge and experience with different vehicle applications, can be an especially valuable resource. “The racing retailers and race engine builders should align themselves for guidance with the actual manufacturer,” said Robert Knowles from KA Sensors, Danbury, Connecticut. “Most manufacturers provide technical experts at least at the factory who are capable of discussing in-depth the use of the sensors they manufacture. Many hours of frustration and time can be saved talking directly with the manufacturer.”

Tips On Proper Sensor Selection

Race teams often overestimate their sensor needs by choosing a product at the top end of the professional spectrum that may be too advanced for their specific application—or perhaps too general and incapable of reporting the required data. Sensors, therefore, represent a category whose value is enhanced through the guidance of a knowledgeable retailer or engine builder.


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