Watlow® Thermocouples are classified by calibration type because they have varying electromotive force (EMF) versus temperature curves. Some generate considerably more voltage at lower temperatures, while others do not begin to develop a significant voltage until subjected to high temperatures. Also, calibration types are designed to deliver as close to a straight line voltage curve inside their temperature application range as possible. This makes it easier for an instrument or temperature controller to correctly correlate the received voltage to a particular temperature. Additionally, thermocouple calibration types have different levels of compatibility with different atmospheres. Chemical reaction between certain thermocouple alloys and the application atmosphere could cause metallurgy degradation, making another calibration type more suitable for sensor life and accuracy requirements.

Thermocouple Types Calibration types have been established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) according to their temperature versus EMF characteristics in accordance with ITS-90, in standard or special tolerances. Additionally, there are non-ASTM calibration types. These thermocouples are made from tungsten and tungsten-rhenium alloys. Generally used for measuring
higher temperatures, they are a more economical alternative to the platinum and platinum alloy based noble metal thermocouples, but limited to use in inert and non-oxidizing atmospheres.