5 Reasons Why Every Electrician Needs a Voltage Meter in Their Tool Kit

Close your eyes, and conjure a cartoon image of an electrician.  Do they have a voltage meter in their hands?  

Sure, perhaps your cartoon sparky is holding a pair of electrical wipe strippers, insulated pliers or a screwdriver – but in the real world it’s unlikely they’d actually grab those tools before switching on the voltage meter first.  Why’s that?  Because when discussing voltage meters for electricians, the keyword is obvious: safety.

Without getting all technical, what hand-held digital voltage meters do is really quite simple: they detect, measure and display on a read-out the electrical potential difference – the voltage – between two points in an electrical circuit.  In other words, it’s the easiest and safest possible way to reliably know whether (and how much) voltage is present in an electrical circuit.  Because if that voltage manages to escape its intended path and enter the human body, the injuries can be debilitating and the shock can be instantly fatal.

But did you know there are plenty of other reasons why every electrician wants a voltage media in their toolkit?: 

1. Troubleshooting

If an electrical system of any type is malfunctioning, an electrician can use the voltage meter on various parts of that system to check for expected voltage levels, identify the voltage source, and either figure out what’s causing the issue or moving on to other tests that can help to pinpoint it.

2. Designing electrical systems

The electrician, or electrical engineer, can also use their voltage meter to determine the voltage requirements of various components and devices within an existing or hypothetical electrical system.  Individual parts like motors, fixtures and control devices may have distinctly different voltage requirements, introducing issues of compatibility, integration and voltage consistency in repairs or system design.

3. Tests & installation

As electricians are working, an easy way to test that electrical circuits are working as intended is to perform a fast and simple test with a voltage meter.  Regular voltage testing on the fly identifies design and installation problems as they occur, ensuring that the required voltage levels at varying points along the electrical system are within the intended and acceptable limits.

4. Selecting electrical components

Various components across an electrical system, including wires, switches and resistors, feature different voltage ratings so that they are most appropriately suited to the installation or repairs in question.  Life is made easy for the electrician in selecting the most suitable components with a simple voltage meter test.

5. Detecting voltage drops

Electricians aren’t just on the lookout for high voltage levels – they’re also checking for unusually lower-than-expected voltage.  Specifically, they’re looking for voltage drop, which happens when a significant amount of electrical energy is lost as heat due to conductor resistance.  This is obviously an issue in terms of potential overheating, but dropped voltage also means less electricity than expected flow on to the system’s next component and beyond, causing problems.  By accurately detecting voltage drop with a voltage meter, electricians are able to use the most appropriate wire sizes and component ratings for the system.

Do you agree that your cartoon electrician needs a voltage meter in their hands above all else?  Without one, it’s not just safety that is compromised – it’s just a fact that electrical system design, troubleshooting and repair is slower, more difficult and less reliable.  If you’re convinced a new voltage meter needs to be in the toolkit within your organisation, it’s critical to consider the specific needs of the electricians and engineers so that the device has the features and capabilities to get the job done.  For advice and guidance as you make the perfect selection from today’s diverse and accessible range, get in touch with our industry guides. Head to RS for a full range of voltage meters. 

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