Level Measurement for Solids

Vibrating point

These detect levels of very fine powders (bulk density: 0.02 g/cm3 – 0.2 g/cm3), fine powders (bulk density: 0.2 – 0.5 g/cm3), and granular solids (bulk density: 0.5 g/cm3 or greater). With proper selection of vibration frequency and suitable sensitivity adjustments, they can also sense the level of highly fluidized powders and electrostatic materials.

Single-probe vibrating level sensors are ideal for bulk powder level. Since only one sensing element contacts the powder, bridging between two probe elements is eliminated and media build-up is minimized. The vibration of the probe tends to eliminate build-up of material on the probe element. Vibrating level sensors are not affected by dust, static charge build-up from dielectric powders, or changes in conductivity, temperature, pressure, humidity or moisture content. Tuning-fork style vibration sensors are another alternative. They tend to be less costly, but are prone to material buildup between the tines,

Rotating paddle

Rotating paddle level sensors are a very old and established technique for bulk solid point level indication. The technique uses a low-speed gear motor that rotates a paddle wheel. When the paddle is stalled by solid materials, the motor is rotated on its shaft by its own torque until a flange mounted on the motor contacts a mechanical switch. The paddle can be constructed from a variety of materials, but tacky material must not be allowed to build up on the paddle.

Build-up may occur if the process material becomes tacky because of high moisture levels or high ambient humidity in the hopper. For materials with very low weight per unit volume such as Perlite, Bentonite or fly ash, special paddle designs and low-torque motors are used. Fine particles or dust must be prevented from penetrating the shaft bearings and motor by proper placement of the paddle in the hopper or bin and using appropriate seals.


An RF Admittance level sensor uses a rod probe and RF source to measure the change in admittance. The probe is driven through a shielded coaxial cable to eliminate the effects of changing cable capacitance to ground. When the level changes around the probe, a corresponding change in the di-electric is observed. This changes the admittance of this imperfect capacitor and this change is measured to detect change of level.