Can multiple-use testers be used for insulation testing?

29 March 2018

Last month we discussed insulation testing.  We often get asked if multiple-use testers can be used for insulation testing.  It is a good question to ask. I mean, who wants to spend more money than they have to if they have a tester that can test for more than one thing?

Here’s the thing… multiple use testers can be used for insulation testing, BUT (and that is a big BUT) be careful.  Insulation testers are now fully capable of a wide range of additional tests and functions, performed to the best specifications, but you must read the details of the spec sheet and be sure that the tester you are purchasing can in fact perform insulation testing. 

The ability to test at voltages commensurate with the operating voltages and higher of building wiring is essential.  The tester used should be designed around insulation testing as its core function. 

Multimeters often add testing into the insulation range (MΩ), but only at a few volts.  This unit is only good for comparative readings and not an insulation test.

If you are still scratching your head wondering why someone would want to only purchase an insulation tester if the multi-tester can accomplish the job and perform many other tests as well - think ease of use and cost savings. 

If you will never need to use all the functions that a multi-meter offers, why waste the money? Invest in the unit that does just one specific thing and does that thing REALLY WELL.  No need for all the bells and whistles when you will only ever be performing just one type of test. 

An insulation tester is easy to use.  Even the most unskilled operators can use it with little to no chance of things going wrong.  Not to mention that many applications center strictly on insulation testing, especially at higher voltages. By having a tester that focuses on just one job can be a huge advantage, rather than trying to figure out what test does what.

When making your final decision, ask yourself if you will be doing any other types of testing other than insulation testing.  If the answer is no, just buy and insulation tester.  Don’t fall into the trap of ‘I may need a tester to do x, y, and z at some point, but definitely not now or in the foreseeable future.' It isn’t really worth the money if you are not using all of the other functions it has to offer.  Depending on the answer, you will be able to easily determine what type of tester is right for you.