Sensor drift and Predicted Calibration Intervals of Handheld Temperature and Relative Humidity Meters Under Residential Field-Use Conditions

Scott A. Bernhardt, Utah State University
Scott C. Collingwood
Kyle Mumford
Dennis Eggett
Brianna M. Magnusson
James D. Johnston


Handheld temperature and relative humidity (T/RH) meters are commonly used in residential indoor air surveys. Although popular, T/RH meters are prone to sensor drift and consequent loss of accuracy, and thus instrument manufacturers often recommend annual calibration and adjustment. Field-use conditions, however, have been shown to accelerate electronic sensor drift in outdoor applications, resulting in out-of-tolerance measurements in less than one year. In the study described in this article, sensor drift was evaluated under residential field use for 30 handheld T/RH meters to predict needed calibration intervals based on hierarchical linear modeling. Instruments were used in 43 home visits over a 93-day period and were calibrated (without adjustment) 49 times over the study period with a laboratory standard. Analysis of covariance showed significant drift among temperature sensors for all three instrument types (p < .0001) and among humidity sensors in two instruments. The authors’ study suggests calibration frequency should be based on instrument performance under specific sampling conditions rather than on predetermined time intervals. - See more at: