Choosing the Best Accelerometers: Type of Accelerometers Compared

Before you choose an accelerometer for your next application, be sure to do your homework. You’ll need to consider your requirements for measurement range, output type, number of axes, and usage scenario (which will influence your choices for the other conditions). We’ll explore these qualities and outline five of our top accelerometer recommendations based on your specific needs.

Accelerometers - Factors to Consider

Keep these terms in mind as you shop for the right accelerometer:

- Range: With a broader range, the device can measure a larger maximum acceleration, but a smaller total range generally means greater sensitivity. If your application needs precise response levels, a smaller range accelerometer can offer this at a cost-effective price point. If your application requires the capacity to measure large acceleration forces, opt for an accelerometer with a larger range, though expect to pay more if you also need a higher resolution.

- Output: Do you prefer a digital or analog output? A digital output can work very well with microcontrollers and the like, but analog may be easier to use in some situations.

- Axes: Your application may require acceleration measurement along one, two, or three axes.

- Expected scenario: This includes your expectations for range, operating temperatures, size, attachment type, etc.

The Best Accelerometers Available: Our Recommendations

With those terms in mind, here are five of our favorite accelerometers available right now.

1. Wide Range Choice: ADXL1004BCPZ

This model, manufactured by Analog Devices, features a very wide ±500g acceleration measurement, easy-to-use analog output, and a broad operating temperature (from -40 to +125 °C). It’s suitable for very demanding, high-acceleration environments and meets meets automotive-grade temperature requirements.

2. High Sensitivity Choice: LIS3DHHTR

Produced in Europe, the LIS3DHHTR from ST Microelectronics has a small range of ±2.5g, allowing it to read even small acceleration forces and delicate movements accurately. Three-axis readings and a digital output provide plenty of information and data processing options in a single device.

3. Best Budget Choice(s): AIS1120SXTR and AIS2120SXTR

These two devices appear to be identical, but AIS1120SXTR measures only a single axis, while AIS2120SXTR measures two. Both models are available for under $10 per unit and both offer:

- Mid-range sensitivity (±120g)

- Extended operating temperatures (-40 to +105 °C)

- Automotive 8-pin gull-wing leads

4. Versatile Digital Choice: BMA456

Manufactured by Bosch, this sensitive digital-output accelerometer offers flexible sensitivity, and its acceleration ranges are ±2/±4/±8/±16g. This device measures all three axes and can operate in environments ranging from -40 to +85 °C.

5. Low Voltage Choice: LIS25BATR

With a maximum operating voltage under 2V, this model from STMicroelectronics is tough to beat when it comes to low-voltage operation. It measures a range of ±3.85g in all three axes and has a very precise operating voltage range: from 1.71V minimum to 1.99V maximum. What’s more, it’s also safe for an extended temperature range: -40 to +85 °C.

Once you’ve figured out your project’s parameters, you’ll be in a solid position to choose the best accelerometer. If the models we’ve shown here don’t meet your precise needs, feel free to explore some of the many more options we have available.

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