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Understanding the Basics: How Flow Meter Operates?
by Team Kritsnam

The working principles of flow meters form the basis for a variety of designs and technologies tailored to specific applications, flow conditions, fluid types, and accuracy requirements.

Common principles include fluid dynamics, pressure drop, velocity measurement, positive displacement, Coriolis effect, thermal measurement, and acoustic techniques, such as the Electromagnetic Flowmeter Principle used for process flow measurement.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the global flow meter market is projected to reach USD 10.3 billion by 2026, driven by increasing demand in the oil & gas and water industries. The key markets are Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe.

Understanding the principles behind flow meter operations is crucial for their selection, installation, and maintenance across diverse applications.

Let's delve into the science behind flow meter operations and their importance.

Flow Meter
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What is a Flow Meter?

An instrument designed to measure the rate of fluid flow (gasses or liquids) through a defined pipeline or a conduit.

Flow Meters quantify the mass/volumetric flow rate of the fluid to monitor, process and optimize control in various commercial, scientific and industrial applications. 

In short, it is an instrument designed specifically to assess flow rates with its diverse technologies and principles. A Report by Future Market Insights predicts that the flow meters market size is estimated to reach a valuation of US $13.2 billion by 2033, exhibiting a CAGR of 5%.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About Water Flow Sensors

Importance of Flow Meter

Water flow meters are crucial for managing and quantifying water resources. They ensure efficient water usage, accurate billing, and regulatory compliance, highlighting their importance in various industries. Flow meters help optimize operations by enhancing efficiency, reducing waste, and providing real-time water consumption data.

These factors are vital for environmental monitoring and assessing human impact on water bodies and ecosystems. In municipal supply systems, flow meters monitor water distribution, detect leaks, and implement long-term conservation measures.

Understanding flow meter principles is essential for selecting, installing, and maintaining these devices to ensure accurate and reliable flow measurements across different applications.

Types of Flow Meters

Some of the flow meters based on their flow meter working principles are listed below:

Volumetric Flow Meter

This category of flow meter includes: Surface Acoustic Wave Flow Meters, Differential Head Flow Meter, Differential Area Flow Meters, Turbine Flow Meters, Ultrasonic Flow Meters, Vortex Flow Meters, Electromagnetic Flow Meters, and Paddle Wheel Flow Meters.

Mass Flow Meters

This category includes two major types: Thermal Mass Flow Meters & Coriolis Mass Flow Meters.

Recommended Read: Mass Flow Meter - Meaning, Principle, Application & More

How Does a Flow Meter Work?

Different flow meters work based on different flow meter working principles. For proper installation, it is important to understand the specific working principle of the chosen flow meter.

The generalized steps are given below though the steps vary depending on the type of flow meter -

  • Installing the flow meter in the pipeline to allow the fluid to flow.
  • Employing a sensing mechanism for measuring and detecting the flow of the fluid (This is based on the type of flow meter).
  • Collecting data from distinct flow meter parameters like pressure, velocity, temperature, and displacement, depending on the principle and design.
  • Processing the gathered data for conversion of raw measurements into valuable information. It might include filtering noise, performing calculations and amplifying signals.
  • Displaying the processed information on local indicators through a monitoring system.
  • Calibration of flow meters to provide accurate measurements involving the flow meter’s readings for reliability and precision.
  • Regular maintenance and validation to ensure continued reliability and accuracy of the flow meter.

Also Read: Different Methods To Validate The Accuracy Of Flow Meter On The Field?

Understanding Flow Meter Operation

The principles behind flow meter technology can be understood easily in the flow meter operation itself:

Step 1

Flow Meter Installation

Step 2

Fluid Flow 

Step 3

Sensing Mechanism 

Step 4

Gathering Data

Step 5

Signal Processing 

Step 6

Output Transmission

Step 7


Step 8

Regular Maintenance

The above steps are the easiest ways in which flow meter functionality is explained.

How Do Flow Meters Measure Flow?

Each flow meter operates on distinct flow meter working principles. A few instances are explained below-

Vortex Flow Meters

They detect the frequency of vortices shed in the fluid stream.

Recommended Read: Vortex Flow Meter - Meaning, Principle, Usage & More

Thermal Mass Flow Meters

They measure the heat transfer from the flowing fluid.

Coriolis Mass Flow Meters

These flow meters measure based on the Coriolis effect (Twisting of the vibrating tubes).

Ultrasonic Flow Meters

They use ultrasonic waves to measure the velocity of the fluid.

Recommended Read: Ultrasonic Flow Meter - Types, Applications, Working & More

Electromagnetic Flow Meters

They use the voltage induced across a fluid by a magnetic field, proportional to the flow velocity. They work with a sensor and a transmitter together to measure the flow.

Recommended Read: Electromagnetic Flow Meter - Meaning, Principle, Usage & More


They depict the flow rate by the position of the floating element in the tapered tube.

Explaining Flow Meter Mechanics

Flow meters operate with the help of multiple flow meter working principles like electrical, mechanical, and acoustic to measure the fluid flow rate in a pipeline.

Different devices have different sensors/mechanisms to respond to the fluid changing characteristics while its movement through the flow meter. 

The flow meter working principles measure based on the type of flow meter like electromagnetic induction, differential pressure, ultrasonic transit time, etc.

The flow meter is responsible for translating the physical changes induced by the flowing fluid into measurable and quantifying data, thus leading to the accurate determination of flow rates. 

Recommended Read: All You Need To Know About Water Flow Sensors

Mechanism of Flow Meter Devices

In layman's terms, the general idea behind the mechanism of flow meter devices is to gather, capture and interpret changes in the fluid movement and then convert this information into measurable data.

The mechanism involves presenting an accurate representation of the fluid’s flow rate. 

General flow meter working principles include utilizing ultrasonic waves for transit-time calculations, exploiting the Coriolis effect, monitoring vortex-shedding frequencies, etc.

That’s how the general working principles of flow meters are implemented. 

How to Choose the Correct Flow Meter?

To choose the correct flow meter for the application/installation of a flow meter, the following criteria must be followed:

  • Connection size must be the same when connecting the flow meter to the pipe.
  • Check the connection type to be used: Clamp, Flanged or Threaded
  • Make sure that the flow meter can handle the system’s normal temperature and pressure conditions. 
  • See whether your flow meter can handle fluid type or not.
  • The lower the percentage of the flow meter, the higher its accuracy. Keep a check on accuracies.
  • While installing, different flow meters have different requirements. Scrutinize all the installation instructions for proper mounting techniques.

Installing an advanced flow meter like Dhaara Smart by Kritsnam is priceless because it is a battery-powered flow meter that utilizes ultrasonic technology to capture, measure and report water flow.

Moreover, it comes with an inbuilt GPRS/4G, is battery operated (No wires), functions at the highest accuracy (ISO 4064), all-weather protection (IP 68 rating) and is tamper proof (automatic alarms).

Dhaara Smart is an evident proof that makes sure that flow meter working principles are taken care of during the installation.

Dhaara Smart
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Dhaara Ultrasonic Industrial Flow Meter
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The Dhaara is a new-age water meter that combines the power of IoT with the latest sensor technologies. The integrated telemetry and battery-powered capabilities make it easy to manage your water consumption from anywhere and anytime (even when the power is down).
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Mapping A Way To Sustainability

On the whole, flow meters play a significant role in varied fields including chemical processing, industrial manufacturing, environmental monitoring, energy production, and healthcare.

With accurate flow measurement, the efficiency, regulatory compliance and optimization of resource utilization becomes hassle-free. 

Kritsnam is on a mission to empower companies with water intelligence. Dhaara Smart is a prominent water budgeting application that carefully evaluates water risks and easily manages the water footprint. Here, we make sure that water management is not a hassle at all by aligning to the flow meter working principles. 

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