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How Do I Choose the Best Circuit Tester?

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  • Written By: Amy Rodriguez
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing the best circuit tester requires you to consider several factors, such as application, features, and overall construction. In addition, the tester's power source should be versatile; for example, it should accept both rechargeable and single use batteries. The test leads should also be examined for durability; leads should not be thin and fragile.

A circuit tester is used in a variety of different applications; common uses are normally to troubleshoot building and automotive electrical systems. As a result, your chosen circuit tester should be able to handle the current and voltage running through the wires. You should consult the tester owner's manual for the maximum power it can withstand; testers that are subjected to excessive voltages can easily become damaged beyond repair. Common applications are normally listed within the manual to further clarify the tester's abilities.

Some testers do not simply show an open or grounded electrical circuit; manufacturers have added many extra features for additional uses. Typical features can include circuit breaker association and location, as well as troubleshooting specialized wiring called Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in the United States. Another feature may involve notification of positive and negative wiring being reversed within the circuit; this feature is especially helpful to prevent any harmful circuit damage.

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The circuit tester should have a rugged construction; you should choose a model that has a thick, plastic housing, as well as rubber bumpers along the edges to prevent damage from accidental drops. These devices can take a lot of abuse from moving between each troubleshooting project. A durable construction will prolong the lifespan of the tester. Additionally, manufacturers that add a waterproof assembly also contribute to the sturdiness of the product. For example, workers that accidentally drop the unit in a puddle can be assured that it will still function afterward.

Testers can be used extensively, especially if you are a repair technician. The power source for a circuit tester is typically an internal battery; you should choose a model that allows you to use both rechargeable and single use batteries. Rechargeable batteries can be reused repeatedly to save money on battery purchases. Single use batteries are useful as backup power sources; if a technician runs the charge out of a rechargeable battery pack, he or she should be able to use single use batteries in the meantime.

You should not overlook the test leads that protrude from the main circuit tester body. The leads should be thick with a strong outside sheath. There should be no cracks or pinches along the length of the leads; damage to the leads can cause malfunctioning readings on the tester.

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