Comparison: VEGACAL 63 vs SITRANS LC300 capacitance level transmitters
Today we have two big brands here to have their devices reviewed at Visaya! The topic of the month is level measurement, so we’ve decided to review capacitance level transmitters this week.
In the yellow corner, the folks from VEGA have the VEGACAL 63, a capacitance level transmitter with some nice features! In the teal corner, the Siemens crew has the simple but very efficient SITRANS LC300! Let’s find out how these devices can support you in a new application.
Disclaimer: This product review examines only features, not performance. If you’ve used this device, feel free to share your experience in the comments.
The VEGACAL 63 looks similar to VEGA’s other products. This is fine because it keeps you familiar with the company’s devices. This version is dedicated to liquid applications. You can choose single or double chambers and one of several housing materials – stainless steel 316L, plastic PBT, aluminum, and more.
The VEGACAL 63 also has an optional display that fits in different models to offer the same standard and features. This display shows process data in numbers, bar graphs, or other visuals. It also has a backlight and four setup keys. In the basic version, you open the housing to use the keys, but the advanced version has a magnetic pen you can use through the housing glass. Best of all, the display has built-in Bluetooth, so you can set up the VEGACAL 63 with a simple app through your phone or tablet. Great feature!
On the teal side, the SITRANS LC300 has fewer features but a pretty flexible application range. The compact device comes in epoxy-coated aluminum, and it looks like it’s the only option, maybe you can talk the Siemens rep into helping you out!
Like the VEGACAL 63, the LC300 has a local display. However, its screen lacks innovation. The LCD only shows four digits, and you set up using a rotary switch and two push buttons to select options. The LC300 could stand a little polish, but if you don’t mind opening the housing to use the switch and buttons, then it should work fine for you, right?
Measurement and probes
Both devices mainly measure level. Siemens has a single product with a rod or cable probe, so you can fit this sensor in liquids, solids, conductive and non-conductive products. VEGA takes a different approach. Specific products require specific devices. The VEGACAL 63 only measures conductive and liquid products. If you have another type, then you’ll have to go to VEGA’s site for something else.
The LC300 only has PFA for its insulating material. If you need a different material for chemical compatibility, then keep shopping. On the plus side, the rod probe measures from 300 to 5000 millimeters (mm), and you’ll get even more range from the cable version. It can also handle temps from -40 to 200 degrees Celsius and pressures up to 35 bar. You can install the device using threaded or flange connections.
The VEGACAL 63 has several insulating probe materials, like PTE and PTFE, and it can withstand -50 to 200 degrees Celsius and -1 to 64 bar. Like the LC300, the VEGACAL 63 installs with flange or threaded connections. Also, if you have a dielectric value lower than 5, then you can install a partly insulated probe. For higher values, you need a fully insulated probe.
Field protocols and output
On the yellow side, the VEGACAL 63 can integrate into the control system through analog, HART, PROFIBUS PA, or FOUNDATION Fieldbus. If you scroll down the device page, you’ll see tons of accessories. So if you want to go wireless, then check out the wireless adapter and gateway!
Swinging in a different direction, the LC300 has only analog integrated. Of course, it’s still the most common field communication, but couldn’t we at least get HART? I saw nothing in the documentation. As I said earlier, this device is not top-tier, so it’s a little short on features.
Performance and approvals
Siemens suggests a standard accuracy on the SITRANS LC300 as less than 0.5 percent of the measurement value, but you should scale out to find the margin you’ll get in your process. For enclosures, it has type 4/NEMA, IP65, or IP68 and approvals such as ATEX and CSA/FM.
I didn’t find a standard accuracy in VEGA’s files, but you have an excellent tool online to help choose a new device and find out more based on your process data. As for approvals, the VEGACAL 63 has intrinsic safety (Ex ia) and a protective housing (ST Ex). It also comes in IP66, 67, or 68, or you can have it certified as SIL2.
Bluetooth for VEGA! This feature allows you to access the device remotely through your phone or tablet to change the configuration, monitor the process, and check diagnostic messages. The VEGACAL 63 can also handle foam and pneumatic filling, but you have to avoid agitators and changing media.
The LC300 has patented active-shield technology to protect against vapors, foam, moisture, and buildup. It also has a humble diagnostic on its display that gives you basic information.
Information and documentation
I have to say that the VEGA website is on the same level as Emerson’s – clear and easy to navigate, with a real mobile experience on tablets and smartphones. On your laptop, you can compare the devices side by side, but I didn’t find the same function on my phone.
The Siemens website sucks, sad to say. It takes ages to find a product, and the documentation could use work too. A recent podcast on developers commented on the difference between a site created by a developer with no designer versus a site with a real front end experience. The Siemens site makes for a good example of that. It has a mobile version, but it’s not easy to find the information there. Google works better than the native site’s search! Yikes.
If you want a device with innovative tech, the VEGACAL 63 brings the fancy features. However, the modest SITRANS LC300 can cover a wide range of applications, if all you need is process measuring.