Electrical Testing
Tip of the Week: Take the time to learn what your test equipment can do for you. Amy_Lv/iStock/Thinkstock

Tip of the Week: Take the time to learn what your test equipment can do for you.

Your equipment may come with worthwhile features that you're not using.

Does any of your test equipment have too many functions and features? Take a closer look at your most commonly used test device — probably one of your digital multimeters (DMMs). What features does it have? Which ones do you not use?

Suppose something happened to that piece of equipment, such as it got “drop tested” from the eighth flight of stairs you were climbing. Now, as you contemplate replacing that equipment, and it had features you didn’t use, does that mean you’re better off replacing it with something simpler (and probably less expensive)? Perhaps.

Photo credit: Amy_Lv/iStock/Thinkstock

But look more closely at those features and how they could be useful. Are those features unused because they weren’t applicable to your work, or because work procedures didn’t try to exploit those features? Did you even realize the instrument had those features?

This scenario should bring to mind some other thoughts. You’ve got that instrument with certain features you’re not using. What if you started using them? What capabilities of that instrument could make you more effective, and why?

For example, when DMMs with measurement history first came out, many electricians didn’t use that feature for the sole reason they’d never used a feature like that. They had never had a convenient way to know the highest, lowest, and average voltage on, say, a feeder circuit.

But there’s a nuisance trip problem on a feeder, and someone says, “Hey, I can record these values and get some useful information for troubleshooting this problem.” Now all the electricians in the plant want a meter with that feature or will use that (formerly unused) feature on their own meters.

Don’t wait for someone else to figure this out for you. Take the time to learn what your test equipment can do. Then think about how you can use those capabilities to streamline your work and make you more effective. It’s probably not the case that you have “too much instrument” for your needs; you simply did not realize what that instrument can do to meet your needs.

Now, about replacing that “drop-tested” unit: Don’t just replace it; look at the newer models to see what capabilities you can make good use of that your “drop-tested” unit didn’t have. And get a carry-strap for that new unit!

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