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As we all know, electronics are increasingly taking control of modern vehicles. This means we are seeing more and more vehicle problems that are related to the vehicle’s electrical system and more specialized tools and training are required to troubleshoot modern electrical issues.
Every aspect of today’s cars and trucks are being controlled by electronics and computers and they are increasingly more complex and difficult to diagnose when things go wrong. When diagnosing electrical circuits, technicians typically use a wide variety of tools from simple test lights to expensive multimeters and scopes. Power Probe Circuit Testers combine many of the most commonly used test functions into a single convenient tool, allowing you to track down circuit problems quickly and accurately.
Now that might sound like just a bold marketing statement, but it’s true. When used correctly, Power Probe Electrical Circuit Testers have some unique testing advantages over conventional test equipment, like multi-meters or test-lights.
First, and most important… all Power Probes connect directly onto the vehicle’s battery. They all have at least a 20 ft. power lead, so you are able to perform tests anywhere around the vehicle while still connected to the battery. There are 20 ft. Extension cables available for working on larger vehicles like trucks or busses.
This permanent battery connection is important for a few reasons;
1) You are locked onto the single best ground point on the vehicle. The only true ground connection on the vehicle is the battery negative terminal. Using the Power Probe, you don’t have to continually try to locate new ground points for your test light or meter as you move throughout the vehicle during testing. It could also throw your readings off if you happen to connect to a bad or weak ground point while testing. So this means any voltage reading are referenced from the true battery ground and all your voltage readings are truly accurate.
2) Now all your voltage readings are referenced all the way back to the source battery and it accounts for any voltage losses between the source and the point being tested. The Power Probe is actually looking for voltage drops in the circuit. All of the Power Probes have built-in lights and tones that will instantly alert you if any test point is more than 0.5 volts lower than the source battery voltage. This is the general rule in any 12-volt circuit; that you should not have a voltage drop greater than 0.5 volts or you may have a problem. When probing a positive voltage, as long as the voltage on the probe tip is within 0.5 volts of the battery that the Power Probe is connected to, the Red (+) LED will light up and if the speaker is on will emit a hi-tone. No light and no tone instantly alerts you that there is a voltage loss greater than 0.5 volts. Similarly, on the ground side, as long as the probe tip has no more than 0.5 volts and a resistance to the ground less than 600 ohms, the Green (-) LED will light indicating a good ground path. So, Power Probes are automatically checking for circuit voltage drops.
3) Most testing can be accomplished quickly with one single probe in one hand. No need to mess around with two-meter leads and again no need to locate new ground connections.
4) Most important of all, because you are connected to the battery, you can now apply circuit breaker protected battery power or battery ground directly into a circuit or component by simply pressing the rocker switch. You can now energize and actively test components like motors, pumps, lights, and solenoids on the vehicle or on the bench. This method of actively powering up components is the most effective test method for checking the function of a component. You can check something with an ohmmeter and it may tell you if the component is open, shorted, or out of specification, but it can’t tell you how the device will actually operate under running conditions. If the component is sticking, dragging, or overheating, ohm checks will not show that you must power it up to see how it performs.
There are different Power Probes to choose from –
Currently, the best-selling probes are the Power Probe 3, the improved Power Probe 3EZ, and the Power Probe 4.
The Power Probe 3 is our most popular Circuit Tester. It’s small, compact, affordable, and simple to use, yet packed with enough testing features to handle the majority of your electrical testing work.
The Power Probe 3EZ is our newest Power Probe that has all the functions of the popular Power Probe 3 plus two added functions contained in a new sleek, ergonomic housing with a much bigger and brighter display screen. The 3EZ now has a menu to select the different test modes making test selection much easier, and we added a flip screen function that lets you invert the screen making the display easy to read regardless of how you are holding the tool. The first new function is EZ learning it teaches you the tool’s functions while EZ diagnostics guide you through basic electrical testing procedures. Embedded QR codes within the tool provide knowledgeable videos for the everyday technician.
The Power Probe 4 adds more multi-meter functions like Resistance testing, Frequency, AC Voltage, and special test modes like Injector Testing and a Driver Circuit Tester, dramatically increasing the testing capabilities. The PP4 also has many other improvements over the PP3, such as a sealed weatherproof housing, automatic circuit breaker resetting, a fused ground lead with a banana jack connector.
Whichever Power Probe you choose, you will find your electrical diagnosing faster and easier when you give yourself the Power Probe Advantage.