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LM335 – Measuring Temperature

I recently ordered a whole bunch of components, sensors and parts off of Mouser, one of which was the LM335A temperature sensor.

The LM335A is part of the LM135 series, which are precision, easily-calibrated, integrated circuit temperature sensors. It operates as a 2-terminal zener, and has a breakdown voltage directly proportional to absolute temperature at +10 mV/°K. With less than 1 Ohm dynamic impedance the device operates over a current range of 400 mA to 5 mA with virtually no change in performance. When calibrated at 25°C the LM135 has typically less than 1°C error over a 100°C temperature range. Unlike other sensors the LM135 has a linear output.

All this and more information about the sensor can be acquired in the datasheet here.

The important parts to know are that it works like a zener diode with a breakdown voltage that is proportional to the temperature. A 10 mV increase correlated to a 1°K increase in temperature. Calibration of the sensor can be done via a potentiometer connecting output to ground. At this time I will be using the sensor uncalibrated, which will give a temperature error of +/- 1 – 3°C, I may attempt to calibrate it at a later date using the known temperatures of boiling/freezing water.




  • 2.2k Ohm resistor
  • LM335A

To use the sensor I set up this circuit on my protoshield:

5V is supplied to the (+) pin of the sensor through a 2.2k resistor, and GND is connected to the (-) pin. Analog 0 of the Arduino is also connected to the (+) pin.  This forms a circuit known as a voltage divider, and is a linear circuit that produces an output voltage that is a fraction of the input voltage. In my case, the voltage out changes as the break down voltage changes in the sensor, and is representative of the temperature.

Note: To calculate the resistor used in this circuit you would have to take into consideration the voltage drop of the sensor, which I don’t quite understand at this point so I will be saving this comment from SparkFun user “superbrad” for later use:

I believe the issue that most of you are having is that you are neglecting to take into account the ~3V drop of the LM335 into account. It is a diode, which needs to be included in the resistor calculation.
Ohm’s law: V = IR. But if you’re running on 5V, don’t use V = 5V! The diode blocks ~3V, so V = (5V – 3V) = 2V.
Solving for R where V = 2V and I = 1mA (R = V/I = 2V/.001A), you should find that a 2Kohm resistor at 5V is appropriate.
Best of luck.

Another thing to keep in mind is that since we are working with such a low voltage signal, it is important to keep the sensor close to the Arduino or the signal will be degraded and inaccurate. So I wouldn’t advise stringing up the sensor on a 20″ wire cable unless you use some kind of shielding or filtering/amplification like that which is demonstrated in the datasheet.


To get the sensor to start giving us data we tell the Arduino to do this:

int sensePin = 14; // Pin A0
float sensorValue = 0; //Set the sensor value as a floating number
void setup()
 pinMode(sensePin, INPUT);
void loop() 
 int sensorValue = analogRead(sensePin); //reads voltage on Pin A0
 Serial.println(sensorValue); //returns voltage on a 0 - 1023 scale (0 - 5 Volts)

And we get a response in the serial logger of something like this:

Now, this isn’t quite useful to us as it isn’t in the °C or °F temperature format we are used to so we have to convert what the sensor is spitting out to a human readable number. First thing we can do is convert the number to Kelvin, as we know that every 10 mV change in the output is equivalent to 1°K

float kelvinValue = (((sensorValue / 1023.0) * 5.0) * 100.0); // convert sensorValue to Kelvin

This is better, but we aren’t doing any science (yet) so we don’t want Kelvin, we want Celsius or Fahrenheit.

float celsiusValue = kelvinValue - 273.0; // convert Kelvin to Celsius
float fahrenheitValue = (celsiusValue) * (9.0/5.0) + 32.0; // convert Celsius to Fahrenheit

Now we can finally have the Arduino return the temperature of its environment in Celsius or Fahrenheit! Wooohoo! Here are the results with a little added formatting flair:

Click here to go to the completed sketch with formatting on pastebin. (updated Jul-14-2012)

Now that we have the ability to roughly (since our sensor is still uncalibrated) sense the temperature of the environment we can make all kinds of things! Computer fan controllers, green house temperature monitoring, self-regulating homebrewing fridges are projects that we are ready to take on.

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