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Test And Tag
Portable Appliance Testers
PATs start in price from around $1000 but these will be PATs that can only test the earth at 200 milliamps – legal but not, in our opinion, designed for ‘safety’ rather just for ‘compliance’. To get a PAT that checks for compliance and safety, which will test the protective earth at 10 Amp or 10,000 milliamps, you will likely need to spend around $1700. The expensive PATs will normally be a complete system and can cost as much as $8500.
Here is something you need to know; just because you spend $8500 does not mean you get a PAT that tests for compliance and safety – there is one with a camera built in where the system costs around $8500 which still only tests at 200 milliamps for the protective earth.
Most people will likely, if interested in safety, need to spend somewhere between $1700 and $6000 on a tester.
Many PATs have an on-board memory and now commonly can print tough tags directly from the PAT memory via a suitable label/tag printer.
Memory Capacity of a PAT
Many advanced PATs have an onboard memory ranging from being able to save 1,000 items to 1,000,000 items – most PATs now will save around 10,000 to 50,000 items.
Memory size is not critical in most situations as PATs should have data transferred regularly in case of loss or theft. Various options are available on PATs for downloading test results including via USB and memory sticks, WIFI and direct WIFI. There are also Apps available for direct communication from your smartphone to the tester for saving results where a tester does not have an internal memory.
Printers and Labels/Tags
Printers can be battery powered, mains powered running from a DC power source or a combination of both and there are different types of print systems:
Direct Thermal – this relies on heat to print onto the label/tag and therefore it is ‘heat sensitive’ and and life span for readability is often short.
Thermal Transfer – this is the most common printers used and uses a ribbon to transfer the information on to the label/tag which means a tough material can be used resulting in more durable tags.
Over the years we have used and sold many printers, but thermal transfer is definitely, in our opinion the best solution as the tag should always remain readable. Direct thermal labels/tag swill often become unreadable if subject to heat or sunlight (much like a till receipt left in sunlight).
Thermal transfer printers will normally be bigger than direct thermal and most are designed to run from the mains via a DC adaptor. If they are small, then they will be expensive maybe 3-4 times the normal price and consumables will also be expensive.
Labels/Tags will normally be of a set size, often 100 x 50mm or variable length. Variable length uses continuous roll with a cutter which automatically cuts to length the required tag. This is a big advantage when sometimes you may want just a small tag.
A problem with any printing system is that you can only have one roll in use at a time, meaning one colour only. This is a problem when doing tests in environments with different retest dates where using different colours make it easy to see what is due for testing and when.
Metrotest have found a solution with ‘dual time tagging’ coloured rolls and with the METROiPAT SupaPAT you can actually get at least 3 colours from any roll without changing the roll! See out METROiPAT SupaPAT.
Another item developed by Metrotest, using knowledge gained through actually doing millions of tests, is the ‘double tagging’ system. When testing a computer monitor with lead in tandem (both are tested at the same time) if the test is a pass then this result is saved twice and two tags are produced (with incrementing numbers) – this cuts testing time in half as without this function you have to redo a test to get the second tag. Metrotest use these testing innovations everywhere, they are brilliant and really work.
If you want to test accurately and with an auditable tag (each tag has a unique asset number and a 2D audit code for quick audits should there be concerns over whether testing has been done properly.
Test Results in Software and on Tags
There are many options available for software to download, save, organise, export and report on tests that have been done there are both PAT instrument manufacturers software and generic brands of software. The manufacturers software will download their brand of PATs, however generic software will download many different PATs which is useful if you have several different brands of PATs.
There are now also printing formats available on PATs which will print the test results directly on to a tough test tag (in a design so that the tag is still small).
Insulation resistance testers provide evidence to show the condition of the insulation in a building or electrical equipment. Rapid deterioration of insulation and poor insulation resistance are found via pressuring the insulation. Bad insulation resistance in electrical equipment and systems could lead to an electric shock hazard or to fires and product failure.
Insulation resistance testing is often referred to in the industry as ‘meggering’ the word originating from the ‘Megger brand’. Single phase equipment and systems will usually have a voltage of 250/500 volts DC applied between earth and live conductors. 3 Phase is normally tested at 1000V DC.
Sonel insulation resistance meters are packed with advanced features, many with a memory function, making analysing and fault finding easy.
Multimeters are available everywhere. Some are of good quality, others may be of poor quality and expensive.
We only offer two quality meters, both represent excellent overall value and we guarantee these will meet all the ‘specs on the box’.
One is suited for general electrical use and the other is a high spec meter where more features are required. Both are proven quality meters.
Sonel have a range of clamp meters designed to fit the needs of most people from the basic through to TRMS meters available with AC/DC current up to 1000 Amps.
If you are trying to measure leakage current we also have the solution.
AS/NZS3760 requires RCDs to be tested including where necessary fixed RCDs.
An RCD (Residual Current Device) is basically a very quick switch that operates if an item it supplies with electricity becomes unsafe. RCDs are everywhere now so it is common for PATs to have an RCD tester in-built – you can still buy stand alone RCD testers and PATs that do not have an RCD built- in.
It is unlikely that people testing will not need an RCD tester so when purchasing a new PAT it obviously makes sense to add this in.
As a minimum an RCD tester must measure trip time ie disconnect time when they are tested at the rated trip current. This will be in milliseconds – I second = 1000 milliseconds. Commonly they will disconnect or trip in less than 25 milliseconds hence the need for a very accurate measuring device.
High Voltage Insulation Testers
Where an installation involves high voltages the potential for electrical leakage increases which will be caused by insulation breakdown. To adequately test high voltage installations the insulation should be checked at equal or normally a higher voltage.
Sonel have a full range of insulation resistance testers that can test from 2500 Volts upwards, advanced features include amongst other things a ramp test, adjustable test times and temperature of device being tested, which will affect the insulation resistance or leakage values of items being tested. On-board logging of data and data transfer is also available.
Sonel multifunction testers are available with just a few test options through to ones that will do more than everything!
If you need to do more, you will find these feature rich testers meet your needs. There are models that can store data and if you are working in harsh environments then these testers will make the grade.
Multiple test function instruments are ideal for those who have a varied workload that requires them to be able to perform different types of tests at any given time. In some of our multifunction testers insulation resistance testing is up to 2.5KV and one also has a harmonics function. There is bound to be one to suit your requirements.
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