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Author Topic: AC Circuit Load Tester?  (Read 16619 times)

Ron Kimball

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AC Circuit Load Tester?
« on: December 15, 2013, 11:49:15 AM »

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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2013, 01:44:11 PM »

Would this be useful?
http://tools.woot.com/offers/extech-ac-circuit-load-tester-1
I picked one up from the last time it was offered on Woot. It gives a lot more information than a simple voltage test, and does seem to be useful. The big advertised feature is the load test. I'm not positive if this matters yet, but it doesn't directly do a load test by putting 20A on the line; it does some kind of indirect measurement or calculation.

I'm going to put mine through the paces and then do a review at some point. So far thoughts are mostly positive.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2013, 01:49:40 PM »

Would this be useful?
http://tools.woot.com/offers/extech-ac-circuit-load-tester-1
I actually have that same Extech tester, plus three other brands including the Ideal SureTest, Amprobe INSP-3, and a near antique British Woodhead GLIT tester I bought in the 70's (see below). All function similarly by pulsing a single line-cycle of current between the hot wire and the safety ground wire, then measuring the voltage drop and calculating the impedance of the ground fault circuit. They also predict how much voltage drop you'll get with a 15 or 20 amp load, plus perform GFCI testing by injecting a 5 mA fault to see if it trips the GFCI. The Extech is the least sophisticated of the three modern models, and doesn't have an internal battery to keep the screen on when the outlet circuit is tripped from a GFCI test.

I really like the Ideal SureTest for its very bright screen and quick tests. But the Amprobe INSP-3 has better measurement screens for my taste. Here's a video of me testing a SureTest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_04HmpFBxdQ and here's one using the INSP-3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfAPkJVYUpY

Note that the video camera made the SureTest screen flicker, as it looks stable to the naked eye. I don't have a video of the Extech tester already, but if I get time this week I'll try to post a quick video of it in action. For the money, the Extech is hard to beat since the other's cost around $300 each.

I do think that a GLIT (Ground Loop Impedance Test) is a great way to verify both the load wiring integrity as well as the ground fault capability of the circuit. But also note that it CAN'T find an RPBG (Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground) outlet.   
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 08:19:13 AM by Mike Sokol »
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Mike Sokol
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Johnny Diaz

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2013, 08:32:55 PM »

Mike,

I was wondering if these tester's discussed are really needed if one has a Fluke DMM? 

Johnny
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2013, 09:47:14 PM »

Mike,

I was wondering if these tester's discussed are really needed if one has a Fluke DMM? 

Johnny
A DMM alone isn't enough - you need to do a load test, and potentially a non-contact tester to test for reverse polarity bootleg grounds.
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Lyle Williams

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2013, 09:59:27 PM »

Mike,

I was wondering if these tester's discussed are really needed if one has a Fluke DMM? 

Johnny

In a perfect world, none of this is necessary.  All power work is done correctly and no faults occur over time.

That said, this sort of tester is getting well away from consumer territory into electrician territory.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2013, 10:16:39 PM »

In a perfect world, none of this is necessary.  All power work is done correctly and no faults occur over time.

That said, this sort of tester is getting well away from consumer territory into electrician territory.
Unfortunately, those of us in this industry need to start thinking like electricians, rather than ignorant consumers.  Knowing how to verify correct receptacle function is absolutely critical, particularly since we often use multiple circuits, which can amplify the dangers of wiring failures or errors.
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Ron Kimball

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2013, 10:25:24 PM »

This one look similar but quite a bit less expensive:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/190978962970
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Johnny Diaz

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2013, 09:11:35 AM »

A DMM alone isn't enough - you need to do a load test, and potentially a non-contact tester to test for reverse polarity bootleg grounds.

Tom,

True the DMM won't do a load test but I always thought that as the amperage goes up the voltage will go down unless using a voltage regulator.  Is my understanding correct?  Is the ac circuit load tester able to determine if the ground and neutral are tied together?  If so, I can see how this is beneficial.   

Johnny
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 09:21:39 AM »

Tom,

True the DMM won't do a load test but I always thought that as the amperage goes up the voltage will go down unless using a voltage regulator.  Is my understanding correct?  Is the ac circuit load tester able to determine if the ground and neutral are tied together?  If so, I can see how this is beneficial.   

Johnny
http://soundforums.net/hub/1856-basic-receptacle-testing.html
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Re: AC Circuit Load Tester?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 09:21:39 AM »


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