For this review, Damian Heath of Heath Electrical Services (MK) tries out a new product that is set to change the landscape of electrical testing as we know it.
When I learned that Fluke had introduced a new product to market that would allow electricians to measure both voltage and current at the same time, I was chomping at the bit to have a play with the tool myself. After all, a single-handed tester that can show/measure (and not just detect) voltage, ampage and frequency is something that us sparkies have demanded for as long as I can remember.
As most readers will know, until now it’s previously been impossible to measure voltage without test leads, meaning you’d need to be an octopus if you wanted enough hands for the leads and to hold on to the tester as well. As such it’s always been a case of finding a suitable location to prop the tester up and hope for the best that it doesn’t fall and get damaged while you’re working.
There’s also a safety issue. Normally you’d have to make some sort of physical contact with wires to find out if a line was live, or terminals were loose or corroded in a service panel, but that’s no longer the case. Thanks to the use of revolutionary FieldSense technology, the Fluke T6 testers (T6-600 and T6-1000) allow you to measure voltage up to 1,000V, current up to 200A, and frequency from 45 Hz to 66Hz on 4/0 wires through what is described as ‘the largest open fork in the industry’, without the need for test leads, removing covers or loosening wire nuts. Resistance can be measured with the test leads – from 1Ω to 100kΩ. The T6-1000 is 1000V Cat III, 600V Cat IV rated, while the T6-600 is rated 600V Cat III.
So we’ve established that we could have a potentially ‘game changing’ range on our hands here, but how easy are the testers to operate? I had the T6-1000 on trial and found it to be a doddle to operate. It was simply a case of sliding the tester over the conductor and the unit’s screen display informs you of the readings that you have and those that you require for a correct installation. The ‘hold’ button on the tool can then maintain the reading until it’s no longer required.
I found the tool to be very durable and rugged, and obviously a good size that fits neatly in your hand. The dial is nice and clear and simple to operate and the values (Volts and Amps in FieldSense mode) are easy to view thanks to the clear LCD display. What’s more, the backlit display will turn green when it gives you a valid measurement – a great visual indicator.
In terms of ROI, it’s likely that high volume users will see the payback benefits quicker than those that use the product on the occasional job. That said, the convenience, safety benefits and new features that the T6 Tester range offers to all electricians should make it an essential item to add to your tool collection this year.
For more information on the T6 range of electrical testers from Fluke visit: http://www.fluke.co.uk