Support / FAQs / About techtown

Thermopile vs Thermocouple

Thermopile vs Thermocouple Thermocouple

Thermopiles and thermocouples are used to produce electricity by reading the temperature. While both devices are similar and found in a wide variety of applications, some novice technicians get confused between the two. This guide offers a quick and easy comparison of a thermopile vs thermocouple.

Features of Thermopiles & Thermocouples

What is Thermocouple?

A thermocouple is composed with the help of two wires of various materials by which the voltage is produced. In many appliances that use a gas flame, the thermocouple generates voltages that help detect temperature. The voltage and the variation of temperatures at both junctions are proportional to each other. The thermocouple works the same as the electric conductors in which heat lies at the first junction and passes to the second junction. This is how you can observe the voltage in this device that results in electricity.

What is Thermopile?

A thermopile is a device that is the combination of thermocouples arranged in a series or parallel connections. As compared to the thermocouples, it results in more voltages to detect the temperature of the appliance. The most important property of this device is the high production of output. This is due to the connections of more thermocouples in a thermopile. But, it's essential to make sure that the connections are not weak and enough to produce excessive outputs.  

Differences between Thermopiles & Thermocouples

Here we have gathered the fundamental difference between a thermopile and a thermocouple that will be helpful to know and learn for a technician.

  • Size –  Thermocouple have a thin construction while a thermopile is thicker in size. 
  • Voltage – While both devices can detect temperature, but a thermocouple has a lower temperature range than a thermopile.
  • Temperature type –  The contact-based temperature can be measured by thermocouples, while a thermopile can usually become helpful in measuring the non-contact-based temperature.
  • Design – A thermocouple is designed to use two types of wires that are of a different material. Heat lies on the first wire and travels to reach the second wire. When it reconnects, these wires produce electricity. These two wires work as electric conductors. A thermopile, on the other hand, combines thermocouples that are arranged and connected in series or parallel connections. 

Can I Use a Thermocouple Instead of a Thermopile?

If the thermopile needs to be replaced in any home or commercial appliance, do you think you can use the Thermocouple instead of the thermopile? The answer is NO. 

A technician cannot use a single thermocouple instead of a thermopile since it is a fact that the thermopile is a combination of thermocouples that are arranged in series or parallel and connected. But a single thermocouple would not perform its job the same way as a thermopile does. 

For example, many gas appliances use a thermocouple to detect temperature and control the flow of gas. and a thermopile is responsible for piloting the light and allows the fire to turn on.