Would like an opinion on testers. Pros and cons, on the following: 1) non-contact proximity tester. 2) Wiggy 3) A multi purpose (voltage, ohm, amprobe) type, digital or otherwise. Do electricians, service or construction, use one over the other and which is best. I have my opinions (their like noses, right?) but would just like to hear from others.
You realize though, that all those testers have their charms. Wiggies are light, nearly unbreakable (especially if you have one of the old metal ones ) Contact testers are nice, but....seen 'em fail. Analog testers you can see a capacitive "kick" as it leaves a circuit being tested, digital, nice and accurate, you often see the peak voltage (170) before it settles down to 120, now with digital do you want true or average readings, that also makes a difference and there are reasons for wanting both, WELL now that I've thoroughly confused the issue, I'll leave
I know many will say that you should not rely on them solely, but sometimes we get complacent. Non-contact testers have a serious, potentially deadly quirk. If a cable(particularly NM, which has a paper filler which retains moisture) has been exposed to moisture, they may not indicate voltage when ther is voltage present. My brother was installing an outdoor receptacle on a tail of NM that someone else had started a few weeks before. The non-contact tester did not beep. When he went to shorten the cable with his cutters, it sparked and tripped the breaker. If the cable had not been too long, he would have stripped it while kneling in damp grass, and probably would have been killed. Non-contact testers are a great device, but don't bet your life on them! As far as others, Ideal has a Vol-Con Elite tester #61-092, that has a non-contact feature and a non solenoid vibrating feature, which is good for day-to-day use. I like the fluke 89 IV DMM. It has lots of nice features.
[This message has been edited by Redsy (edited 02-08-2002).]
I use a non contact tester for 120 stuff in "safe" situations. Where there may be higher voltages or I am outside or could be grounded somehow I use a fluke 23 or 87. I also sometimes use an Ideal voltage/continuity meter. I used to work for Shell oil and they required these or equivalent because of the inherent safety of not being able to have a selector in the wrong position. I have learned the value of that in the few times I have left my Flukes in current setting and hooked across 277v. Very fast way to get your attention. Don
I carry both a Fluke T-5 and an old (25 yrs.)Square D "Wiggy" for checking if a circuit is dead. I use them both. Very often the Fluke high-impedance digital will show voltage on a circuit that's turned off, due to capacitance. Also love my Fluke 36. RMS-AC/DC
I carry both the proximity tester and a digital multimeter as well as an analog clamp on current meter. One thing that I recommend is to test whatever instrument you use on a known powered up circiut before using it on the unknown.