Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT) and Its Working

The term LVDT or Linear Variable Differential Transformer is a robust, complete linear arrangement transducer and naturally frictionless. They have an endless life cycle when it is used properly. Because AC controlled LVDT does not include any kind of electronics, they intended to work at very low temperatures otherwise up to 650 °C (1200 °F) in insensitive environments. The applications of LVDTs mainly include automation, power turbines, aircraft, hydraulics, nuclear reactors, satellites, and many more. These types of transducers contain low physical phenomena and outstanding repetition.

The LVDT alters a linear dislocation from a mechanical position into a relative electrical signal including phase and amplitude of the information of direction and distance. The operation of LVDT does not need an electrical bond between the touching parts and coil, but as an alternative depends on the electromagnetic coupling.

What is an LVDT (Linear Variable Differential Transformer)?

The LVDT full form is “Linear Variable Differential Transformer” is LVDT. Generally, LVDT is a normal type of transducer. The main function of this is to convert the rectangular movement of an object to the equivalent electrical signal. LVDT is used to calculate displacement and works on the transformer principle.

The above LVDT sensor diagram comprises a core as well as a coil assembly. Here, the core is protected by the thing whose location is being calculated, while the coil assembly is increased to a stationary structure. The coil assembly includes three wire-wound coils on the hollow shape. The inside coil is the major, which is energized by an AC source. The magnetic flux generated by the main is attached to the two minor coils, making an AC voltage in every coil.

Linear Variable Differential Transformer
Linear Variable Differential Transformer

The main benefit of this transducer, when compared with other LVDT types, is toughness. As there is no material contact across the sensing component.

Because the machine depends on the combination of magnetic flux, this transducer can have an unlimited resolution. So the minimum fraction of progress can be noticed by an appropriate signal conditioning tool, and the transducer’s resolution is exclusively determined by the declaration of the DAS (data acquisition system).


Linear Variable Differential Transformer Construction

LVDT comprises a cylindrical former, which is bounded by one main winding in the hub of the former and the two minor LVDT windings are wound on the surfaces. The amount of twists in both the minor windings is equivalent, but they are reversed to each other like clockwise direction and anti-clockwise direction.

Linear Variable Differential Transformer Construction
Linear Variable Differential Transformer Construction

For this reason, the o/p voltages will be the variation in voltages among the two minor coils. These two coils are denoted with S1 & S2. Esteem iron core is located in the middle of the cylindrical former. The excitation voltage of AC is 5-12V and the operating frequency is given by 50 to 400 HZ.

Working Principle of LVDT

The working principle of the linear variable differential transformer or LVDT working theory is mutual induction. The dislocation is nonelectrical energy that is changed into electrical energy. And, how the energy is altered is discussed in detail in the working of an LVDT.

LVDT Working Principle
LVDT Working Principle

Working of an LVDT

The working of the LVDT circuit diagram can be divided into three cases based on the position of the iron core in the insulated former.

  • In Case-1: When the core of the LVDT is at the null location, then both the minor windings flux will equal, so the induced e.m.f is similar in the windings. So for no dislocation, the output value (eout) is zero because both the e1 & e2 are equivalent. Thus, it illustrates that no dislocation took place.
  • In Case-2: When the core of the LVDT is shifted up to the null point. In this case, the flux involving minor winding S1 is additional as contrasted to flux connecting with the S 2 winding. Due to this reason, e1 will be added as that of e2. Due to this eout (output voltage) is positive.
  • In Case-3: When the core of the LVDT is shifted down to the null point, In this case, the amount of e2 will be added as that of e1. Due to this eout output voltage will be negative plus it illustrates the o/p to down on the location point.

What is the Output of LVDT?

The output of the measuring device like LVDT or linear variable differential transformer is a sine wave through amplitude that is proportional to off-center location & 0⁰ otherwise 180⁰ of phase based on the located side of the core. Here, full-wave rectification is used to demodulate the signal. The highest value of the engine out (EOUT) happens at the highest core displacement from the middle position. It is an amplitude function of the main side excitation voltage as well as the sensitivity factor of the specific type of LVDT. In general, it is quite considerable at RMS.

Why use an LVDT?

A position sensor like LVDT is ideal for several applications. Here is a list of reasons why it is used.

Mechanical Life is Infinite

This kind of sensor cannot be replaced even after millions of cycles & decades.

Separable Core & Coil

LVDTs are used pumps, valves & level systems. The core of LVDT can be exposed to media at the temperature & high pressure whenever the coils & housing can be separated through a metal, glass tube otherwise sleeves, etc.

Measurement is Frictionless

The measurement of LVDT is frictionless because there are no friction parts, no error, and no resistance.

Resolution is Infinite

By using LVDTs, the tiny movements can also be calculated precisely.

Repeatability is Excellent

LVDTs do not float otherwise get noisy finally even after decades.

Insensitivity to Cross-Axial Core Movement

Measurement quality can be compromised neither sensations nor zig zags.

Repeatability is Null

From 300oF – 1000oF, these sensors always provide you a reliable reference point

  • Unnecessary of On-Board Electronics
  • Complete Output
  • Customization is Possible for any Kind of Application

Different Types of LVDT

The different types of LVDTs include the following.

Captive Armature LVDT

These types of LVDTs are superior for lengthy working series. These LVDTs will help to prevent incorrect arrangements because they are directed and controlled by low resistance assemblies.

Unguided Armatures

These types of LVDTs have unlimited resolution behavior, the mechanism of this type of LVDT is a no-wear plan that doesn’t control the motion of calculated data. This LVDT is connected to the sample to be calculated, fitting limply in the cylinder, involving the linear transducer’s body to be held independently.

Force Extended Armatures

Utilize internal spring mechanisms, electric motors to move forward the armature constantly to its fullest level achievable. These armatures are employed in LVDT’s for sluggish moving applications. These devices don’t need any connection between the armature and specimen.

Linear Variable Displacement Transducers are usually used in current machining tools, robotics, or motion control, avionics, and automated. The choice of an applicable kind of LVDT can be measured using some specifications.

LVDT Characteristics

The characteristics of LVDT mainly discussed in three cases like null position, highest right position & highest left position.

Null Position

The working procedure of LVDT can be illustrated at a null axial place otherwise zero by the following figure. In this condition, the shaft can be located exactly at the center of S1and S2 windings. Here, these windings are secondary windings, which increase the generation of equivalent flux as well as induced voltage across the next terminal correspondingly. This location is also called a null position.

LVDT at Null Possition
LVDT at Null Position

The output phase sequence as well as output magnitude differentiation with respect to input signals that derives displacement and movement of the core. The arrangement of the shaft at the neutral location or at the null mainly indicates that the induced voltages across secondary windings which are connected in series are equivalent & inversely proportional with respect to net o/p voltage.

EV1= EV2

Eo = EV1– EV2 = 0 V

Highest Right Position

In this case, the highest right position is shown in the below figure. Once the shaft is shifted in the right side direction, then a huge force can be generated across S2 winding, on the other hand, the minimum force can be produced across S1 winding.

LVDT at Right
LVDT at Right

Thus, the ‘E2’ (induced Voltage) is considerably superior to E1. The resultant differential voltages equations are shown below.

Eo = EV2 – EV1

Maximum Left Position

In the following figure, the shaft can be inclined more in the direction of the left side, then high flux can be generated across S1 winding & voltage can be induced across ‘E1’ when ‘E2’ is decreased. The equation for this is given below.

Eo =EV1 – EV2

The final LVDT output can be calculated in terms of frequency, current, or voltage. The designing of this circuit can also be done with microcontroller based circuits like PIC, Arduino, etc.

LVDT at Left
LVDT at Left

LVDT Specifications

The specifications of LVDT include the following.


The highest difference from straight proportion among distance calculated and o/p distance over calculating range.

  • > (0.025 + % or 0.025 – %) Full Scale
  • (0.025 to 0.20 + % or 0.025 to 0.20 – %) Full Scale
  • (0.20 to 0.50 + % or 0.20 to 0.50 – %) Full Scale
  • (0.50 to 0.90 + % or 0.50 to 0.90 – %) Full Scale
  • (0.90 to + % or 0.90 to – %) Full Scale and up
  • 0.90 to ± % Full Scale & Up

Operating Temperatures

The operating temperatures of LVDT include

> -32ºF, (-32-32ºF), (32 -175ºF), (175-257ºF), 257ºF & up. The range of temperature within which the device must accurately operate.

Range of Measurement

The range of IVDT measurement includes

0.02″, (0.02-0.32″), (0.32 – 4.0″), (4.0-20.0″), (±20.0″)


Explains the percentage of the difference between the genuine value of the amount of data.


Current, Voltage, or Frequency


A serial protocol like RS232, or a Parallel protocol like IEEE488.

LVDT Types

Frequency Based, Current Balance AC/AC based, or DC/DC-based.

LVDT Graph

The LVDT graph diagrams are shown below which shows the variations in the shaft as well as their result in terms of the differential AC output’s magnitude from a null point & output of direct current from electronics.

The utmost value of shaft displacement from the core location mainly depends on the sensitivity factor as well as the amplitude of the main excitation voltage. The shaft stays at the null position until a referenced main excitation voltage is specified to the main winding of the coil.

LVDT Shaft Variations
LVDT Shaft Variations

As shown in the figure, the DC o/p polarity or phase shift mainly defines the position of the shaft for the null point to represent the property like the o/p linearity of the module of LVDT.

Linear Variable Differential Transformer Example

The stroke length of an LVDT is ±120mm & generates 20mV/mm of resolution. So, 1).find the maximum o/p voltage, 2) the o/p voltage once the core is shifted with 110mm from its null location, c) the position of core from middle once the o/p voltage is 2.75 V, d) find the change within o/p voltage once the core is shifted from the displacement of +60mm to -60mm.

a). The highest o/p voltage is VOUT

If one mm of movement generates 20mV, then 120mm of movement generates

VOUT = 20mV x 120mm = 0.02 x 120 = ±2.4Volts

b). VOUT with 110mm of core displacement

If a core displacement of 120mm generates 2.4 volts output, then a movement of 110mm produces

Vout = displacement of core X VMAX

Vout = 110 X 2.4/120 = 2.2 volts

The voltage displacement of LVDT

c).The position of core when VOUT = 2.75 volts

Vout = displacement of core X VMAX

Displacement = Vout X length/ VMax

D = 2.75 X 120/2.4 = 137.5 mm

d). The change of voltage from the displacement of +60mm to -60mm

Vchange = +60mm – (-60mm) X 2.4V/130 = 120 X 2.4/130 = 2.215

Thus the change of output voltage ranges from +1.2 volts to -1.2 volts when the core shifts from +60mm to -60mm respectively.

Displacement transducers are available in different sizes with different lengths. These transducers are used to measure a few mms to 1s that can determine long strokes. However when LVDT’s are capable to calculate linear movement within a straight line, then there is a change in the LVDT to gauge angular movement known as the RVDT (Rotary Variable Differential Transformer).

Advantages and Disadvantages of LVDT

The LVDT advantages and disadvantages include the following.

  • The measurement of the displacement range of LVDT is very high, and it ranges from 1.25 mm to -250 mm.
  • The LVDT output is very high, and it doesn’t require any extension. It owns high compassion which is normally about 40V/mm.
  • When the core travels within a hollow former consequently there is no failure of displacement input while frictional loss, so it makes an LVDT a precise device.
  • LVDT demonstrates a small hysteresis and thus repetition is exceptional in all situations
  • The power consumption of the LVDT is very low about 1W as evaluated by another type of transducers.
  • LVDT changes the linear dislocation into an electrical voltage which is simple to progress.
  • LVDT is responsive to move away from magnetic fields, thus it constantly needs a system to keep them from drift magnetic fields.
  • It is accomplished that LVDTs are more beneficial as contrasted than any kind of inductive transducer.
  • LVDT gets damaged by temperature as well as vibrations.
  • This transformer needs large displacements to get significant differential output
  • These are responsive to stray magnetic fields
  • The receiving instrument should be chosen to work on AC signals otherwise a demodulator n/w should be used if a dc o/p is necessary
  • The limited dynamic response is there mechanically through the mass of the core & electrically through the applied voltage.

Linear Variable Differential Transformer Applications

The applications of the LVDT transducer mainly include where dislocations to be calculated that are ranging from a division of mm to only some cms.

  • The LVDT sensor works as the main transducer, and that changes dislocation to an electrical signal straight.
  • This transducer can also work as a secondary transducer.
  • LVDT is used to measure the weight, force, and also pressure
  • In ATMs for Dollar bill thickness
  • Used for soil moisture testing
  • In machines for making PILLS
  • Robotic cleaner
  • It is used in medical devices for brain probing
  • Some of these transducers are used to calculate the pressure and load
  • LVDT’s are mostly used in industries as well as servomechanisms.
  • Other applications like power turbines, hydraulics, automation, aircraft, and satellites

From the above information finally, we can conclude that LVDT characteristics have certain significant features and benefits, most of which derive from fundamental physical principles of operation or from materials and techniques used in their construction. Here is a question for you, what is the normal LVDT sensitivity range?

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