Accelerometer Basics

Contributors: Toni_K
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How to Select an Accelerometer

When choosing which accelerometer to use, several features are important to consider including power requirements and communication interfaces as discussed previously. Additional features for consideration are below.


Most accelerometers will have a selectable range of forces they can measure. These ranges can vary from ±1g up to ±250g. Typically, the smaller the range, the more sensitive the readings will be from the accelerometer. For example, to measure small vibrations on a tabletop, using a small-range accelerometer will provide more detailed data than using a 250g range (which is more suited for rockets).


The ADXL362 Triple Axis Accelerometer can measure ±2g, ±4g, and ±8g.

Additional Features

Some accelerometers include features such as tap detection (useful for low-power applications), free-fall detection (used for Active Hard Drive Protection), temperature compensation (to increase accuracy in dead reckoning situations ) and 0-g range sensing, which are other features to take into consideration when purchasing an accelerometer. The need for these types of features on the accelerometer will be determined by the application in which the accelerometer is incorporated.

There are also IMUs (Inertial Measurement Units) available, which can include accelerometers, gyroscopes and even, occasionally, magnetometers into a single IC package or board. Some examples of this include the MPU6050 and MPU9150. These are commonly used in motion tracking applications and UAV guidance systems, where location and orientation of an object is important.