Once in a while I get annoyed when I don't know something when everyone else does, or so it seems. Anyone wondering what the hell people are talking about when referring to a "lambda"? It sounds like an animal if you read it too fast.
I don't see why calling it an O2 sensor is so much harder?! If it's an oxygen sensor, why not call it that? Sounds like one of those words people use to make them sound like they know more about something (especially with unnecessary abbreviations) or try to confuse other people who aren't as seemingly "savvy" as others.
Maybe so. Still. "O2 or Oxygen" following the word "sensor" is if not easier to type as "lambda" and makes more sense. But here's an explanation behind the whole word. Especially for those of you who know what it is but don't know why it's even said that way. (Kind of like in hockey when people say the Habs).
A lambda sensor is the same thing as an oxygen sensor. In the USA, they are commonly called oxygen sensors, while most of the world calls them lambda sensors.
SO WHY DO THEY CALL THEM LAMBDA SENSORS?
We were hoping you'd ask. As near as we can figure it is a 2 fold answer. The Greek letter lambda equals 1. The purpose of the lambda sensor is to help maintain the fuel ratio at 1 part fuel to 14.7 parts air. Therefore the lambda sensor reports if the fuel is at "1" or "lambda".
As a second explanation it was offered us that when viewed on a scope, the wave pattern produced by the original oxygen sensors resembled the Greek letter lambda. Therefore they were called a "lambda" sensor. (From what we have seen, lots of oscilloscope wave patterns resemble the Greek letter lambda, so we're suspicious of this 2nd explanation).
You have our permission to propagate whichever of these two explanations you like, just donít quote us on either.
I will throw in some insight to this as well. I am in the same boat...Lambda? what a stupid word...! However, once I did some research, I realized that Lambda is probably the best way to describe A/F ratio. As you know, if you have 14.7 parts gasoline, and 1 part air, you have a lambda of 1. But what if you are running natural gas, your perfect "ratio" is no longer 14.7:1. It is closer to 17.2:1. But if you are describing these ratios in terms of "Lambda", they are both the same. .9 Lambda for gasoline means the same as it does for natural gas. However if you have a natural gas engine running at 14.7 parts air to 1 part fuel, it is actually running a little rich.
I do know your feeling though, where all the tuner guys are calling it a "Lambda" sensor, and you are like "WTF"? I get that big time. But just realize when you call it a "Lambda" sensor, you are doing it because you know what it actually means, instead of doing it because thats what all the people on the "I Love My Honda" forum think it will increase their HP by 200%.