Visibility Sensor PWD50

Measures visibility from 10 m to 50 km (from 32 ft to 31 mi)

Model: PWD50
Manufacturer: Vaisala – Finland


  • Accurate, traceable measurement of prevailing visibility
  • Versatile and easy to install
  • Easy to integrate
  • Robust and dependable
  • Weather-proof design reduces need for maintenance

Dependable operation of automated observation networks is a must today. Maritime observing systems need to work in inhospitable environments and also meteorological institutes face tough productivity and performance prerequisites. Vaisala Visibility Sensor PWD50 answers these needs with a mixture of robustness, dependability, versatility, and reliability. PWD50 measures visibility from 10 m to 50 km (from 32 ft to 31 mi).

Accurate Visibility Measurement

Calibrated with reference to a highly accurate transmissometer, PWD50 uses the proven forward-scatter measurement principle to measure meteorological optical range (MOR). The sensor optics are well-protected against contamination: the optical components point downwards, and hoods protect the lenses against precipitation, spray, and dust. This weather-proof design helps to sustain accurate measurement results.


PWD50 architecture allows for easy integration to existing or newly designed systems in a cost-efficient manner.

The sensor can be mounted on existing masts in many ways. The electrical interfaces are in a single cable. Versatility is further enhanced with various options, such as pole masts, a selection of mounting adapters, power supply cabinets, and a modem for long distance communication.

Robust and Dependable

The downward-facing sensor hoods protect the optical surfaces from contamination, resulting in low maintenance needs and costs. The optional hood heaters prevent the build-up of ice and/or snow in the optical path.

Solid Track Record

Thousands of PWD series sensors have been installed all around the world. They have undergone rigorous test programs. In the field, the sensors have demonstrated very low failure rates. They have proved their robustness in the harshest climates and most demanding conditions, ranging from offshore to desert and from airport to roadside.

Measurement Performance


Operating principle Forward scatter measurement with 45° scattering angle
Observation range of MOR 10 … 50 000 m (32 … 164 000 ft)
Accuracy ±10 % at 10 … 10 000 m (32 … 32 800 ft) ±20 % at 10 … 50 km (6.2 … 31 mi)


Operating Environment


Operating temperature −40 … +60 °C (−40 … +140 °F)
Operating humidity 0 … 100 %RH


Inputs and Outputs 


Power supply  12 … 50 VDC (electronics) 

24 VAC or 24 VDC for heater option

Average power consumption 3 W (peak 10 W) 

With optional luminance sensor: 5 W 

With optional hood heaters: 65 W

Outputs Serial data line may be used either as RS‑232 or RS‑485 (2‑wire) level signals 

3 relay controls (open collector) 

Analog output current: 0 … 1 mA or 4 … 20 mA 8-m power/data cable standard. 

The PWD end is equipped with connector

Auxiliary data Low visibility alarms in the data messages. 3 adjustable alarm limits to set the 3 relay controls. 

Hardware status (fail/warning) in the data messages. Third relay control output can also be driven by hardware status.


Mechanical Specifications 


IP rating IP66
Weight 3 kg (6.61 lb)
Dimensions (H × W × L) 140 × 404 × 695 mm (5.51 × 15.91 × 27.36 in)




EMC Compliance
Radiated emissions CISPR 16-1 

CISPR 16-2

Radiated susceptibility IEC 61000-4-3, 10 V/m 
Conducted emissions CISPR 16-1 

CISPR 16-2

Conducted susceptibility IEC 61000-4-6
EFT immunity IEC 61000-4-4
ESD immunity IEC 61000-4-2
Surge IEC 61000-4-5


Spare Parts and Accessories


Pole mast 
Interface unit with power supplies: 115/230 VAC
Luminance sensor PWL111 
Hood heaters for harsh winter conditions
Support arm for mast installations
Pole clamp kit for mast top installations
Calibration set PWA12
Maintenance cable 16385ZZ
Maritime insulator

Visibility Sensor PWD50


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