Electrical circuit for pressure sensors: when is a sensor active, so when passive?

When using pressure sensors, the output signals 0 ? 20 mA, 4 ? Dumb and DC 0 ? 10 V are generally chosen to ensure that the sensor signals to be evaluated and additional processed. For this, the signal output of the pressure sensor is usually connected to a corresponding input card in the PLC.
In this context it can often be confusing, because the day-to-day using the terms ?active?, ?passive?, ?current source?, ?voltage source?, ?current sink? and ?load? tend to be wildly mixed together. Any electrical signal processing always takes a voltage supply (an ?active part?) and a ?load?, such as a pressure sensor, which represents the ?passive part?. Sometimes the active part of the interconnection is also referred to as a power source/voltage source and the passive part is known as a ?current sink?. In order that an electrical circuit can function, current must flow in a circuit ? even when an instrument is normally known as a load, the current is not consumed because of it, rather it only flows from the existing or voltage source through the load and back to the existing source.
This works only if an ?energy gap? exists between current source and current sink, therefore the power source operates actively (= sending out current) and the current sink passively (= current flows through it) . Therefore, an interconnection of two current sources or two current sinks will not operate normally. This situation is complicated in day-to-day application:
When does a pressure sensor work passively (current sink) so when does it work actively (current source)?
How does the input card in my own PLC operate?
As a rule of thumb, one can keep in mind that 2-wire sensors usually work passively and therefore need an active PLC input card. It is difficult with 4-wire sensors, since, for instance, a 4-wire flow sensor consists of 2 wires for a separate voltage supply and 2 wires for a dynamic or passive 0/4 ? 20 mA signal output. Hence, it is imperative to check the datasheets for the sensor and PLC input card used.

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