Comparison: Micropilot FMR20 vs VEGAPULS WL 61
Have you been dying to replace your old ultrasonic with a shiny new radar, but you just lacked the dough? Then read on, my friend, and learn more about the pros and cons of these devices! Although they’re pretty similar, they have small differences that might leave you with one rather than the other.
Let’s check these out the contestants!
Disclaimer: This product review examines only features, not performance. If you’ve used this device, feel free to share your experience in the comments.
During my unboxing, I somehow wound up with two very similar products. Different colors, but the same-ish structure. From a designer point of view, the Micropilot FMR20 from Endress+Hauser has a traditional elegance and simplicity. It looks smaller in the pictures than in reality, but you can check its dimensions – with the antennas, of course – in the manual to give you a better idea.
At 75 millimeters (mm), the FMR20 is a bit bigger than the WL 61 at 72 mm. It weighs approximately 2.5 kilograms with the 40 mm antenna and 2.8 kilograms with the 80. The Vegapuls provides a nicely accurate weight of 0.7 to 3.4 kilograms in the manual. That’s some yo-yo diet!
The WL 61 is also a pretty simple device, but it hides some powerful features inside its neat body. Neither device has a native display, but we’ll talk more about that later. Instead of VEGA yellow, the WL 61 comes in black, making for a conservative design.
Now remember, both transmitters are low-cost options. These vendors want to make the principle more popular in simple applications, where users couldn’t justify the investment in this technology before. Each device costs almost the same as a traditional ultrasonic! Pretty neat, huh?
In keeping with the central idea to decrease the price and expand the range of applications, these devices lack built-in displays. However, both have the option to integrate an external screen to read process variables through digital or analog protocols.
On the blue side, the gang from Endress+Hauser offer the RIA 15. This small, simple display can read HART or analog, and the three local push buttons give you an excellent experience during set up. Beyond its interface, you can see up to four values on the display through the HART communication.
The Vegapuls WL 61 is similar – or the FMR20 is similar to the WL 61. If you need an external display, you’ll have to buy the VEGADIS 82 or another field display. However, it’s more interesting to buy the VEGA screen. Otherwise, the device won’t have Bluetooth! More on that later.
The VEGADIS 82 works like any other VEGA display. You can set up the device locally using its four push buttons or through the Bluetooth, and both options offer an outstanding experience. It has a graphical screen to show off bar graphs and stuff like that, and you can install it on tubes, panels, walls, and so on.
Range and beam angle
The devices differ here. The WL 61 has a plastic horn antenna of 80 mm and a measuring range of up to 15 meters. We reviewed the WL S 61 earlier, and it only had a range of 8 meters. Also, the WL 61 works in the K-band, meaning a frequency around 26 GHz, and has a beam angle of 10 degrees.
The Micropilot has two ranges. If you scale out with the 40 mm antenna, you get up to 10 meters, but with the 80 you’ll get 20 meters! Furthermore, the beam angle on the 40 mm is 30 degrees, but the flooding protection tube changes that to 12 degrees. The 80 mm has a beam angle of 12 degrees with or without the accessory.
Both devices sport an accuracy of +-2 mm, so the FMR20 wins this round by a nose.
Process connections and materials
The WL 61 has several sizes of threaded and flanged connections. Lest we forget temperature and pressure limits, the Vegapuls can take on temps from -40 to 80 degrees Celsius and pressures of -1 to 2 bar.
It has wetted parts in Valor PBT or PP, its process seal in FPM, and the connection cable insulated in PUL. Yeah, that’s pretty much it, but those options will fit a broad range of level applications.
The FMR20 also has many threads and flanges and can handle -40 to 80 degrees and -1 to 2 bar. No differences here! The process connection and sensor housing come in PVDF and the design ring in PBT PC. Pretty bare bones here too.
The Micropilot FMR20 only has analogue, Modbus RS485 and HART. But for setup, you can use Bluetooth. How nifty is that?
The WL 61 has an advantage here! It comes with analog and HART, plus FOUNDATION Fieldbus and PROFIBUS PA. You can also get Bluetooth, but you need to buy the external display for that. Dunno why!
Information and documentation
If you read these reviews regularly, then you already know what I’ll say about the Endress+Hauser site – complicated and still not responsive to phones or tablets! However, the company created a new website where you can find its entire level portfolio. It’s not only nice but also responsive! You can find the right device based on your industry or by using a selecting guide. However, it still lacks documentation and online tools.
Speaking of which, the VEGA site is an outstanding website in the automation world, for real! You can find information easily, it has many examples of applications, and for extra love, an online tool to compare the device models and technologies. This round to VEGA!
Launched after the Vegapuls WL 61, the Micropilot FMR20 has the advantage of native Bluetooth, where the WL 61 needs an external display. The WL S 61 can use Bluetooth without the screen, so why not the WL 61? The world may never know.
In general, both devices can use Bluetooth, and you can download the SmartBlue app to the FMR20 or VEGA Tools to the WL 61.
Note: I’ve received a message from the Marketing Manager of the UK saying that VEGAPULS WL 61 has Bluetooth built-in outside USA. Now, if you are outside the USA, it’s clear that you can have this feature built-in! However, you don’t find this information on the website or documentation, and we have the screenshot from the support answering that the device does not have Bluetooth built-in! Then…It’s not our fault; we are users just like you guys.
If you want seamless integration, the VEGAPULS WL 61 gives you more options. If your application needs a bigger measuring range, go with the Micropilot FMR20. Both will somehow provide Bluetooth, but the FMR20 makes it easier with the feature built in. Word has it that VEGA will improve the VEGAPULS WL 61 soon, so don’t give up hope yet!