An instrument for measuring acceleration, as of aircraft or guided missiles.

The most common type is probably the piezoelectric accelerometer which is widely used in the measurement of machinery vibration. The output is usually produced by force applied to a piezoelectric crystal which generates a current proportional to the applied force. This current is then amplified and displayed as a time waveform or processed by a Fourier transform to produce a frequency display. Single integration of the acceleration signal will produce a velocity display and double integration of the acceleration signal will produce a displacement display.

A wide range of accelerometers of different types and sizes are commercially available to cover the many different applications in which they are used.

It is important when choosing an acceleromter to consider the sensitivity and range that the accelerometer will operate over for the application.


There are a number of ways that an accelerometer may be attached to the structure to be measured.


  • Long term durability of fixing.
  • Extra mass added to structure.
  • Modification to structure.


  • Easy to move between measurement points.
  • Long term durability.


  • More secure than wax.
  • Bond needs to be broken to remove accelerometer.

Hot melt glue

  • Ease of fixing and removal.
  • Heat transferred to accelerometer that can change sensitivity - must allow time to cool to ambient.

Accelerometers are probably the most widely used transducers in any investigation work on a structure of any kind. NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) testing is just one of many fields that make use of them. If there is a requirement to find the frequency of a vibration, for example, an accelerometer would be the obvious choice.

See also: Laser Vibrometer, Velocity Transducer.

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Subjects: Electronics Instrumentation Noise & Vibration

Bruel & Kjaer - Technical Reviews These documents give detailed articles on measurement and signal processing theory.