A continuity test is assessing the flow of electrical current within an electric circuit. Often, this test is carried using a multimeter; however, there are other specialized devices that can help you test for continuity. Professional electricians use various designs of testers in assessing a wide range of electrical functions, including continuity, among other critical electrical activities.
A tester is a multi-function device that will aid in performing most, if not all, electrical testing duties. Some testers are capable of analyzing the levels of both AC and DC within a circuit. In this article, we shall be focusing on how to test continuity without a multimeter.
Testing continuity without a multimeter
As previously mentioned, we can use testers in testing continuity as an alternative for a multimeter. It would help if you considered using a continuity tester when testing for continuity without a multimeter.
A continuity tester is a small device that is powered by batteries. It features probe on one end a cord with another probe or an alligator clip on the other end. When touching the two sides together, you will complete a circuit, and a light will be illuminated on the tester’s body to indicate that the circuit is complete. These testers are essential, especially when trying to figure out if a single-pole switch is working accordingly.
Unlike most testers, the continuity testers are always used when you turn off a circuit or on wires and devices that are disconnected from a circuit. When using continuity tester on any device linked to a circuit wiring, you should always switch off the power to your circuit or your device you intend to test for continuity.
Moreover, you can as well disconnect the device entirely from circuit wiring. This is because it can be dangerous when you operate a continuity tester on wiring that has voltage flowing in it.
Usually, electricians use this tool in testing devices that are wholly disconnected from a circuit wiring. For instance, a continuity tester provides a great way of seeing whether a lamp wiring is intact or whether the inner mechanism of a disconnected switch is operating accordingly.
When a circuit has been turned off, the continuity tester will provide a way of assessing wire runs to ensure that your circuit is complete. Furthermore, you can use it in identifying short circuit in wiring.
Specialized continuity testers are essential when it comes to determining electrical continuity in a circuit. When testing for continuity using a specialized tester, an indicator will be activated when a circuit is thoroughly established. Often, these specialized continuity testers are equipped with flashlights that turns on when a circuit is completed.
Apart from a continuity tester, you can consider using a solenoid voltage tester, also known as wiggy in testing continuity in a device. A solenoid voltage tester is a multi-functional tester; however, they are way easier to operate when compared to multimeters.
There are both analog and digital models available in the market. These testers don’t operate on batteries, unlike multimeters. Other than testing for voltage and polarity, this tester is essential when it comes to assessing for continuity in a device.
Wiggies are incredibly rugged and very less susceptible to damage through electrical overload. They feature two wires, each having a probe coming out from the bottom of the tester. When testing for continuity, they will vibrate or click in the presence of voltage. When the vibration is exceptionally high or when the click is louder, the higher the levels of voltage.
Vital things to consider when performing a continuity test
You should ensure that all the intermediate switches are switched to available positions when it comes to lighting circuits. This will ensure that all conductors are tested for continuity. Moreover, you should ensure that the dimmer switch is linked to other lighting circuits to prevent receiving wrong results at the end of the test.
By following these critical steps, you will come up with the right polarity if conductors; therefore, there is no need for performing polarity tests once again. Once you are through, you should always assess regularly the installation for any sign of damage and faults.
Apart from multimeters and ohmmeters, you can use specialized continuity testers in carrying out a continuity test, as previously mentioned. Usually, these specialized continuity testers are more basic in nature, and they feature small bulbs that illuminate when current flow through them. Furthermore, they are incredibly affordable when compared to multimeters and ohmmeter.
Benefits of continuity testing
There are several benefits of continuity testing such;
- The test can be performed anytime
- It features a long-term return of investment
- It saves time
- There is minimal human resourced needed in carrying out this test
- It tests for both continuity and shorts
- Reusable. You don’t require a new script since these scripts are reusable.
- Highly reliable.
Advantages of using specialized continuity testers
Although you will end having multiple separate pieces of equipment, a specialized continuity tester is a big bonus in your tool kit. When compared to multimeters, specialized continuity testers are incredibly affordable. This is one of the main reasons as to why most electricians prefer specialized continuity testers over multimeters.
Most of these specialized continuity testers are of high quality, and they feature incredible features. Some of these testers are capable of putting out more current and test longer running cables. These features make them ideal for conducting continuity test on long cables. Furthermore, you can use them to indicate polarity.
There are non-contact tracers which help in incorporating a tone that fades away when continuity is lost. This makes them ideal for pinpointing the general location of a cable break within the circuit, for instance.
When testing for continuity on a high resistance circuit, or where sensitive components may be destroyed by current overload, you should consider using low current and a low voltage device. Such devices operate on op-amp and watch batteries in driving an LED as the indicator. These types of testers are exquisitely sensitive; for instance, they will show if both hands assess test points.