DHT11 Sensor and Its Working

Humidity is the measure of water vapour present in the air. The level of humidity in air affects various physical, chemical and biological processes.  In industrial applications, humidity can affect the business cost of the products, health and safety of the employees. So, in semiconductor industries and control system industries measurement of humidity is very important.  Humidity measurement determines the amount of moisture present in the gas that can be a mixture of water vapour, nitrogen, argon or pure gas etc…  Humidity sensors are of two types based on their measurement units.  They are a relative humidity sensor and Absolute humidity sensor. DHT11 is a digital temperature and humidity sensor.

What is a DHT11 Sensor?

DHT11 is a low-cost digital sensor for sensing temperature and humidity.  This sensor can be easily interfaced with any micro-controller such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi etc… to measure humidity and temperature instantaneously.

DHT11 humidity and temperature sensor is available as a sensor and as a module. The difference between this sensor and module is the pull-up resistor and a power-on LED. DHT11 is a relative humidity sensor.  To measure the surrounding air this sensor uses a thermistor and a capacitive humidity sensor.

Working Principle of DHT11 Sensor

DHT11 sensor consists of a capacitive humidity sensing element and a thermistor for sensing temperature.  The humidity sensing capacitor has two electrodes with a moisture holding substrate as a dielectric between them. Change in the capacitance value occurs with the change in humidity levels. The IC measure, process this changed resistance values and change them into digital form.

For measuring temperature this sensor uses a Negative Temperature coefficient thermistor, which causes a decrease in its resistance value with increase in temperature. To get larger resistance value even for the smallest change in temperature, this sensor is usually made up of semiconductor ceramics or polymers.

The temperature range of DHT11 is from 0 to 50 degree Celsius with a 2-degree accuracy. Humidity range of this sensor is from 20 to 80% with 5% accuracy. The sampling rate of this sensor is 1Hz .i.e. it gives one reading for every second.  DHT11 is small in size with operating voltage from 3 to 5 volts. The maximum current used while measuring is 2.5mA.

DHT11 Sensor
DHT11 Sensor

DHT11 sensor has four pins- VCC, GND, Data Pin and a not connected pin. A pull-up resistor of 5k to 10k ohms is provided for communication between sensor and micro-controller.


This sensor is used in various applications such as measuring humidity and temperature values in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Weather stations also use these sensors to predict weather conditions.  The humidity sensor is used as a preventive measure in homes where people are affected by humidity.  Offices, cars, museums, greenhouses and industries use this sensor for measuring humidity values and as a safety measure.

It’s compact size and sampling rate made this sensor popular among hobbyists. Some of the sensors which can be used as an alternative to DHT11 sensor are DHT22, AM2302, SHT71. Which of the specification of the DHT11 sensor was helpful for your application?