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Data logger Cube storing technical and sensor data
Data logger Cube storing technical and sensor data

A data logger (also datalogger or data recorder) is an electronic device that records data over time or about location either with a built-in instrument or sensor or via external instruments and sensors. Increasingly, but not entirely, they are based on a digital processor (or computer), and called digital data loggers (DDL). They generally are small, battery-powered, portable, and equipped with a microprocessor, internal memory for data storage, and sensors. Some data loggers interface with a personal computer and use software to activate the data logger and view and analyze the collected data, while others have a local interface device (keypad, LCD) and can be used as a stand-alone device.

Data loggers vary from general-purpose types for a range of measurement applications to very specific devices for measuring in one environment or application type only. It is common for general purpose types to be programmable; however, many remain as static machines with only a limited number or no changeable parameters. Electronic data loggers have replaced chart recorders in many applications.

One of the primary benefits of using data loggers is the ability to automatically collect data on a 24-hour basis. Upon activation, data loggers are typically deployed and left unattended to measure and record information for the duration of the monitoring period. This allows for a comprehensive, accurate picture of the environmental conditions being monitored, such as air temperature and relative humidity.

The cost of data loggers has been declining over the years as technology improves and costs are reduced. Simple single-channel data loggers cost as little as $25. More complicated loggers may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Data formats

Standardization of protocols and data formats has been a problem but is now growing in the industry and XML, JSON, and YAML are increasingly being adopted for data exchange. The development of the Semantic Web and the Internet of Things is likely to accelerate this present trend.

Instrumentation protocols

Several protocols have been standardized including a smart protocol, SDI-12, that allows some instrumentation to be connected to a variety of data loggers. The use of this standard has not gained much acceptance outside the environmental industry. SDI-12 also supports multi-drop instruments. Some data logging companies are also now supporting the MODBUS standard. This has been used traditionally in the industrial control area, and many industrial instruments support this communication standard. Another multi-drop protocol that is now starting to become more widely used is based upon CAN-Bus (ISO 11898). Some data loggers use a flexible scripting environment to adapt themselves to various non-standard protocols.

Data logging versus data acquisition

The terms data logging and data acquisition are often used interchangeably. However, in a historical context, they are quite different. A data logger is a data acquisition system, but a data acquisition system is not necessarily a data logger.


Data logger application for weather station at P2I LIPI
Data logger application for weather station at P2I LIPI

Applications of data logging include:


Future directions

Data Loggers are changing more rapidly now than ever before. The original model of a stand-alone data logger is changed to one of a device that collects data but also has access to wireless communications for alarming of events, automatic reporting of data, and remote control. Data loggers are beginning to serve web pages for current readings, e-mail their alarms, and FTP their daily results into databases or direct to the users. Very recently, there is a trend to move away from proprietary products with commercial software to open-source software and hardware devices. The Raspberry Pi single-board computer is among others a popular platform hosting real-time Linux or preemptive-kernel Linux operating systems with many

See also


  1. ^ Riva, Marco; Piergiovanni, Schiraldi, Luciano; Schiraldi, Alberto (January 2001). "Performances of time-temperature indicators in the study of temperature exposure of packaged fresh foods". Packaging Technology and Science. 14 (1): 1–39. doi:10.1002/pts.521.
  2. ^ Singh, J; Singh, Burgess (2007). "Measurement, Analysis, and Comparison of the Parcel Shipping Shock and Drop Environment of the United States Postal Service with Commercial Carriers". Journal of Testing and Evaluation. 35 (3): 100787. doi:10.1520/JTE100787.