Analog and digital panel meters are instruments that receive information from an input signal and measure and display that information. Panel meters are often mounted inside of instrument panels. They are frequently used to measure temperature but can also measure speed, pressure, current, and a number of other variables. Chances are that you’ve used an air conditioner that allows you to see the temperature on the instrument panel; this information is displayed with a panel meter.

While they were once widely used and still remain appropriate in certain circumstances, analog panel meters have been largely replaced with digital panel meters, which are far more accurate and easier to read. Analog panel meters can be used for measuring weight, speed, or acceleration but you’ll need a digital panel meter when what you’re measuring requires a high level of accuracy. Digital panel meters are able to measure in different scales at once, unlike their analog counterparts. Furthermore, because digital panel meters give you a digital reading you can increase accuracy by switching the output to a smaller or larger measuring unit.


In cars and other automobiles the fuel, speed, and revolutions per minute (rpm) are displayed on an instrument panel (i.e., dashboard). Each of these measurements travel through its own panel meter and are then displayed in an analog or digital format. Panel meters are exceedingly important with regard to automobiles in that they display the vital statistics pertaining to your vehicle’s performance.


Panel meters are used to measure altitude, speed, and other pertinent information in airplanes. If you’ve ever seen the inside of a cockpit you’ve surely noticed the sometimes overwhelming number of panel meters therein.


You’ll find panel meters all over the place in the modern American house. Your microwave oven’s instrument panel contains panel meters that measure time, power, and weight. Radios and televisions have tuner devices that reproduce audio and video signals by using frequency and amplitude panel meters to interpret radio wave signals. A water pump uses a pressure gauge panel meter and a motor rpm panel meter to regulate water flow in a tank or swimming pool.


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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