The Usefulness of Thermocouples
My best friend’s husband is a bit of a gadget guru; he has all manner of small electrical devices lying around his workspace in their home’s laundry room. I generally steer clear of them because I neither want to break them, nor do I have any idea what they’re used for. They could be components to a video gaming system for all I know. I dislike remaining ignorant of the things that surround me, so one day when I was at my friends’ house helping them install their new washing machine, I was dispatched to the workbench area to find a thermocouple. I had no idea what I was looking for. My husband’s friend, being an excellent teacher in all things of which he is a guru, proceeded to tell me what a thermocouple is and how it works.
He explained to me that thermocouple manufacturers produce a range of thermocouples for use in the home as well as in industry. The thermocouples you see in one’s home are usually not as powerful as those in a factory, for example, since temperatures of factory machines will generally run higher than those in the house. This isn’t always the case, but this seems to be the basic rule. A thermocouple, I found out, measures temperatures of any number of apparatuses, usually where one doesn’t need to measure fine differences in temperature, so they’re great for use in checking the temperature of a car engine, or in this case the electrical junction that serviced the outlet into which the washing machine would be plugged. The thermocouple registers the voltage present and then translates that voltage into a temperature reading. The temperature isn’t of the wall socket or of the washing machine, but rather of the space in between them. My friend’s husband explained that he likes to use the thermocouple for this job because he didn’t want to worry about the temperature of the washing machine once it had been installed.