In this review, Steve Williams of Liss Electrical puts the MFT ECO from Test Instrument Solutions (TIS) through its paces.
Often you pick up a piece of equipment and you immediately realise it was designed for looks and not necessarily practicality.
The MFT ECO from TIS was designed with practicality first and foremost. Rather than copy the other MFT manufacturers, it’s clear they’ve started from scratch to solve the problems faced by electricians.
Personally, I like things as simple as I am. I like a dedicated switch or button, because I am very much an analogue person in a digital world. The younger engineers in our business however, find things like rotary switches to be very tedious and laborious. Most MFT failures are due to the ingress of fine dust entering the rotary switch, so consider that when you’re on site. Sealed membrane buttons bypass this problem, so maybe it’s worth me looking past that.
The shape and strap arrangements are unique to the TIS MFT range. They have given them a comfortable, hands free and easily viewable ergonomic design. I spent a few hours covering a lot of ground on a commercial install with this in place. It was always exactly where I wanted it, not swinging around or hiding under my beer belly.
Testing over the years, I have got used to performing one test and recording the result. In respect of insulation resistance, performing the same test a few times. The ECO will perform all three IR tests as one test. Hook up the three leads to L, N and E and it will electronically switch the leads for you and give you the end results of the insulation measurements between each conductor. I never found it a problem to move the leads around myself, but actually, this is a well thought out improvement.
Similarly, rather than performing both PSC and PFC, the ECO gives both results from one test. Another test saved. The ECO MFT is able to perform this simultaneously because it is capable of a two wire Zs test. Something that not all MFT’s can manage.
Continuing with live tests, the TIS MFT’s pull another trick. An automatic ramp test at both sides of the sine wave, as part of the usual x0.5, x1.0 and x5.0 test. To top it off, all the information is presented on one screen, no need to scroll through results and memorise which was highest.
There are other software treats this MFT has, like allowing you to select various protective devices to check compliant Zs values. Different earthing arrangements can be selected and incredibly it has all of the data for the standards in different countries. A lot of sparks may shrug their shoulders at that, but if you work in the events and exhibition industry, that is a game changer. Being a software based device, there’s always opportunities to increase functionality, which can be updated online or when sent for calibration, something it reminds you of each time you turn it on.
There are lots of other details TIS have added to the hardware, the supplied update lead, to keep those values and functions up to date. They also include a braided lead for 3 pin sockets, which is as pleasant to use as the generous 2 meter, silicone, HT Italia test leads and probes. Which brings me to another important note on quality, these are European made not just European assembled. In comparison to our other MFT’s, most of which cost nearly double the price, the MFT ECO gave consistent test results, which filled me with confidence.
TIS have an extensive range of testers, some with uniquely combined features, which are well worth a look. Self proving voltage indicator, a combined contact and non contact indicator with replaceable leads and a combined socket tester and fuse finder, to mention just a few. They have gadgets to suit every budget and the only compromise you need to make is on function and not quality.
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