How to Choose Between Single-Ended or Differential Voltage Measurement | Single-Ended Featured | Industry Technology Paper

How to Choose Between Single-Ended or Differential Voltage Measurement | Single-Ended Featured | Industry Technology Paper

Learn How to Choose Which Method to Apply

Examining important aspects of single-ended and differential voltage measurement, along with tips on why it might be better to choose one method over the other.

Single-Ended Input voltage Measurement

A single-ended input measures the potential of one point with respect to a fixed common reference
(signal return or a reference voltage offset from signal return). Its chief differentiator is two input
connections with one of variable potential and one of a fixed potential. If the single-ended input has
multiple channels, then each channel measures one potential with respect to signal return,
or a common fixed reference.

Some Applications of Single-Ended or Return-Referenced Measurement

  • Commonly used to measure an output voltage where one connection is already tied to a fixed
    common reference potential or return. Not applicable in multi-channel applications where
    output potentials may be offset or independent of one another, do not share a common
    reference, or where output voltages are connected in series.
  • Mostly preferred where the input signals have higher level full-scale spans greater than 1V, due
    to poor noise rejection.
  • Most applicable for taking measurements over short distances, generally less than 3 meters.
  • Often chosen where it is necessary to accommodate many channels in a small space (less wiring,
    simpler).
  • Typically used where the emphasis is on lower cost (less connectors and wiring required) or
    higher channel density.
  • Not recommended where the output to input coupling is made in a noisy environment with high
    EMI and RFI, or where the coupling cable is not shielded.

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