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Ambient temperature sensors are devices that measure the air temperature around or near a machine, motor, or other piece of equipment that generates heat. Such sensors are intended to prevent machines from overheating and potentially sustaining damage. Equipment is often outfitted with alarms that are set to alert an employee if the temperature rises above the acceptable operating temperature. Some also automatically trigger air conditioning devices that lower the temperature around the machine.
Manufacturing facilities are one of the environments in which ambient temperature sensors are frequently found. These facilities often have numerous machines that use a lot of energy and put out a large amount of heat. This poses the danger of overheating, overloading circuits, and potentially of starting a fire. Sensors are often recommended by the equipment manufacturer and are usually placed in close proximity to machinery so they can monitor the ambient heat. In some locations and conditions, ambient temperature sensors and temperature control devices are required by governmental or environmental codes.
Many automobiles also contain ambient temperature sensors that monitor the heat generated by the motor. These sensors are preset with the optimum and maximum acceptable heat levels. If the motor generates heat in excess of these levels, the sensors will detect the condition and will warn the driver, usually by triggering an indicator light on the dashboard. Ignoring such lights is not recommended, as operating the vehicle when too much heat is present can damage the engine and may also create dangerous conditions.
Rooms or facilities that contain a large number of computers or a great deal of computing equipment, such as server rooms and computer laboratories, often utilize ambient temperature sensors as well. Computers can cease to operate properly if the air in the room is too hot and may sustain damage to expensive key components. Sensors in computer rooms that are not manned overnight are frequently connected to air conditioning devices because excess heat can cause damage very quickly. As soon as the temperature rises above the acceptable level, the cooling equipment will automatically switch on and operate until the temperature returns to acceptable levels.
In rare circumstances, ambient temperature sensors are used to monitor minimum temperatures as well. This usually occurs when equipment that can potentially freeze or otherwise become inoperable when the temperature becomes too low is placed in an area exposed to cold temperatures. In these cases, the equipment is usually outside or protected by an uninsulated shelter.