Piezoelectric lead zirconate titanate (PZT) transducers have been used for health monitoring of various structures over the last two decades. There are three methods to install the PZT transducers to structures, namely, surface bonded, reusable setup and embedded PZTs. The embedded PZTs and reusable PZT setups can be used for concrete structures during construction. On the other hand, the surface bonded PZTs can be installed on the existing structures. In this study, the applicability and limitations of each installation method are experimentally studied. A real size concrete structure is cast, where the surface bonded, reusable setup and embedded PZTs are installed. Monitoring of concrete hydration and structural damage is conducted by the electromechanical impedance (EMI), wave propagation and wave transmission techniques. It is observed that embedded PZTs are suitable for monitoring the hydration of concrete by using both the EMI and the wave transmission techniques. For damage detection in concrete structures, the embedded PZTs can be employed using the wave transmission technique, but they are not suitable for the EMI technique. It is also found that the surface bonded PZTs are sensitive to damage when using both the EMI and wave propagation techniques. The reusable PZT setups are able to monitor the hydration of concrete. However they are less sensitive in damage detection in comparison to the surface bonded PZTs.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.