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The Power Probe III has been around for a little while and has seen some updates over the last couple of years. First came the PP3S and now the newest version is the PP3EZ. They are all 3 essentially the same tool with the same functions. The PP3S and the PP3EZ both have a new, sleeker housing and an improved display screen making the tools easier to read and use. The difference that seems to be the biggest surprise to Power Probe users is the menu… and the menu has a list of other testing options; Voltmeter, Peak to Peak, Max Peak, Min Peak, and AC Threshold. Most Power Probe users have never seen these modes before and assumed they were new features on the updated probes. They are not new! They have been in the older PP3 for years and apparently, nobody knew they were there. (Hey, who reads the manual anyway!) However, there is still a lot of confusion about these test modes and how to effectively use them, so this article will hopefully clear that up. We will explain what the modes are, how to access them, and get the best testing results with them.
Let’s get started. Now the first mode on the test menu is of course Voltmeter and this is the default startup mode for all the PP3s. This mode is simply a standard DC voltmeter and the primary function of the Power Probe 3s. We have plenty of videos, blogs, and articles about circuit testing in the normal DC meter mode, so we are only going to cover the remaining “new” modes in this article.
MIN PEAK and MAX PEAK are similar functions. They both display circuit voltage however these modes are specifically looking for voltage spikes or voltage drops.
When MAX PEAK mode is selected, and the circuit is probed, the display will show only the highest voltage number while it’s measuring that circuit. MAX PEAK is looking for voltage spikes. For example: If you are testing the battery voltage on a vehicle. After selecting MAX PEAK from the menu, you would probe the battery positive post and the display will show the current battery voltage, let’s say its 12.5V. Now if you start the vehicle, first the voltage will drop when the engine is cranking then the voltage will increase when the alternator begins charging. In MAX Peak mode the display would continue to show 12.5V even when the voltage drops while starting, but then the displayed voltage would rise, up to the actual charging voltage… Let’s say 14.0V. Now if we turn the vehicle off again, the displayed reading will remain at the highest voltage reading obtained. Even when the voltage drops back to the normal 12.5V the display would still show 14.0V. Even a very short duration spike in voltage can be captured in this mode. You can reset the MAX voltage displayed at any time with the reset button.
MIN PEAK is exactly the opposite. MIN PEAK is looking for voltage dips or dropouts. When MIN PEAK mode is selected, the display will first show 0.0V. After you probe the circuit you wish to monitor then press the reset button to obtain the existing voltage reading. Now if the voltage drops lower the display will now show the new, lower voltage number. It will continue to display only the lower voltage until you press the reset again. Using the starting the car example above, you could use this function to
monitor what the battery voltage drops to while the engine is cranking or check for the lowest charging voltage while the engine is running. So, nothing too complicated about MIN PEAK and MAX PEAK. Use these modes to capture any unwanted voltage variations. In the next blog, we will discuss Peak to Peak mode and its usefulness.