The need for precision in pressure measurement cannot be overemphasized in industrial processes today. Slight pressure deviation in pressure vessels or chemical reactors used in the oil and gas industries could lead to serious incidents and accidents. As a result, engineers rely on pressure gauges to monitor and regulate pressure levels within various systems accurately. However, the accuracy of these gauges is not inherent; calibration is required to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Pressure gauge calibration is the process of adjusting the accuracy of pressure gauges relative to known standards. This process ensures that the pressure gauges used for a specific process provide precise and reliable measurements. However, there are several approaches to pressure gauge calibration, each with its unique method of operation and advantages. It is vital to understand these approaches as well as the best practices for calibrating pressure gauges.

Fig. 1. Pressure gauge calibration ensures that the pressure gauges used for a specific process provide precise and reliable measurements. Source: florinoprea/Adobe StockFig. 1. Pressure gauge calibration ensures that the pressure gauges used for a specific process provide precise and reliable measurements. Source: florinoprea/Adobe Stock

Methods for pressure gauge calibration

Deadweight tester method

The deadweight tester is one of the most common methods for calibrating pressure gauges. This device uses the principle of balanced forces to determine the accuracy of pressure gauges. A typical deadweight tester setup features a precision piston-cylinder assembly onto which precisely calibrated masses are stacked, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Deadweight tester used for pressure calibration. Source: Hamid3/CC[SA][4.0Figure 2. Deadweight tester used for pressure calibration. Source: Hamid3/CC[SA][4.0

As these known masses are stacked on the piston, gravitational force is exerted on the piston, and pressure is generated within the cylinder. This pressure then becomes the reference standard against which the gauge under test is compared. This unique method of operation offers very high accuracy and makes the deadweight tester indispensable for calibrating high-precision pressure gauges used in critical applications, such as aerospace or medical equipment manufacturing.

The deadweight tester method offers several other advantages, such as eliminating potential sources of errors associated with secondary measurements by directly relying on the gravitational force exerted by known masses. Moreover, deadweight testers offer stability and repeatability, allowing engineers achieve precise calibration even in demanding environments. However, the complexity of the setup and requirement for specialized equipment makes this method more commonly used in laboratories of dedicated calibration facilities.

Comparison method

In contrast to the direct approach of the deadweight tester method, the comparison method relies on juxtaposing the readings of the gauge under test (test gauge) with a reference gauge that has superior accuracy. This method involves subjecting the two pressure gauges to the same pressure inputs and then comparing their readings. Any deviations observed in the test gauge’s reading relative to the reference gauge signal the need for calibration adjustments.

The comparison method offers practicality and versatility, making it a preferred choice for calibration tasks in industrial settings. Engineers find it useful for on-site calibration activities where a dedicated calibration facility is unavailable. Additionally, this method offers the advantage of speed since engineers can leverage a single reference gauge to calibrate multiple pressure gauges. However, inherent limitations, such as reliance on the accuracy of a reference gauge and the potential for cumulative errors, necessitate the need for careful calibration procedures to ensure accurate and precise results.

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Best practices for pressure gauge calibration

Calibration endeavors are not merely technical exercises, but disciplined rituals governed by best practices to ensure optimal outcomes. Here are key practices to uphold:

  1. Scheduled calibration: Engineers must establish a robust calibration schedule tailored to the specific requirements of each pressure gauge. Factors such as usage frequency, environmental conditions and industry standards must be considered when creating a schedule for pressure gauge calibration. This mitigates the risk of inaccurate readings and upholds operational integrity.
  2. Documentation: It is recommended to keep detailed records of calibration activities, encompassing dates, calibration results, adjustments made and personnel involved. These records not only demonstrate compliance with regulatory compliance, but also facilitate traceability during quality assessments.
  3. Trained personnel: Calibration should always be carried out by trained technicians to ensure accurate and reliable results and prevent serious pressure-related incidents in the facility.
  4. Environment: Calibration of pressure gauges should be performed in a controlled environment free from vibrations, temperature fluctuations and other sources of interference that could affect the accuracy of the measurements.


Pressure gauges are essential devices used across a broad range of industries today. Proper calibration of these devices ensures that they function as desired and produce accurate pressure measurements. By understanding how calibration is done in the industry, adopting the appropriate calibration methods, and adhering to the best practices, engineers can fortify their facility’s operational resilience, enhance safety protocols, and uphold quality standards. Reach out to pressure gauge suppliers to discuss application requirements.

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