If you insist. Of course, you still have to keep the meter in view
and have enough light to read it. The Wiggy buzzes and vibrates when
energized. After a little experience, one doesn't need to look at the
thing to see what it's reading.
Right tool for the job and all that. I can cut down a tree with a
coping saw but with a chainsaw close at hand, why? Wiggys are cheap
and really are the right tool for the job of troubleshooting power
John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
I did. I googled solenoid meter and solenoid meter wiggy. I forget
the details but didn't find anything relevant, except when I looked up
solenoid in the dictionary, apparently it means any coil, not just one
with a moving metal plunger. No one I know uses the word that way,
but I figured the OP might.
Also, why would you need a solenoid meter such as you describe, when
it seems to me any low impedance meter would work?
Are you saying it has to have lower impedance than a classic simpson
VOM for example, or any meter made in the 60's and earlier? IIRC
they are 30,000 or 50,000 ohms per volt.
That would be surprising to me, and the lower the imdedance the more
the circuit is affected by the meter.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
The first hit on "wiggy voltage tester" was to Home Depot ($19.95) The
second was to Square D's site:
Several reasons, in no particular order. It's cheap enough to have
one everywhere, even leaving them inside machine cabinets.
It indicates if the voltage is AC or DC - quite important when a
cabinet has mixed voltages. It's a real pisser to tie into a 250VDC
bus because your meter set to AC reads zero.
It draws enough current to burn through corroded and otherwise bad
connections while not being affected by coupled potentials, ground
loops and so on.
It covers the full range from about 50 volts to 600 without range
switching. No digital nor analog instrument does that, at least
without range switching which takes time. There is at least a little
response on 24vdc. I can walk down a terminal strip in a cabinet
looking for the line voltage without worrying about high voltage DC or
even higher voltage AC affecting my meter.
I don't have to look at the thing. I can feel and hear its operation.
I can even slip it in my shirt pocket and still feel it operate.
The Wiggy is totally unaffected by RF. Try using a DVM (except maybe
a high end Fluke) inside a large transmitter or around an induction
furnace. Even the venerable old Simpson sometimes acts up when the
meter protection diodes pick up enough RF.
I could probably think of a few more benefits but that's enough for
Yep. I can't seem to find a spec on the thing but I'd guess that it
draws at least a half amp on 120vac. Almost all reactive power, of
course, so no significant wattage involved. I know that the prods
draw a pretty significant spark on 480vac.
When diagnosing power circuits, that's exactly what you want. I don't
want a DVM or even a Simpson 260 sitting there reading leakage current
through the blown fuse. And I don't want to be chasing my *ss trying
to find out why the circuit is still "hot" despite having opened the
breaker because my meter is reading stray current coupled into the
conductor from others in the conduit. This is a special problem when
there are lots of variable speed drives about with their high
Of course, the opposite holds too. A Wiggy is like a bull in the
china shop inside an instrument cabinet. I can think of more than one
nuclear plant trip caused by a spark-trician poking his Wiggy where it
didn't belong. We actually banned Wiggys from the instrument rooms at
the Sequoyah NP.
Like I said, the right tool for the right job.
BTW, something I'd forgotten until Google reminded me of it. "Wiggy"
is the abbreviated name for the inventor of the thing. "Wiggingham
Voltage Tester" is the formal name.
John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
If you want to learn about a wiggy, look under its' true name... Wiggington.
Once you have diagnosed a case of "open neutral", it will stick with you.
It can be very hard on equipment both from under voltage on one leg, and
over voltage on the opposite leg.
You've got a potentially serious electrical problem. Right now, it's
*RELATIVELY* minor, but if it's what I think it is, it can quickly go
from minor to catastrophic, and do so with little or no warning. Sounds
to me like your neutral is "floating". If you're not up to dealing with
electricity (Sounds like you've at least got a clue), now's the time to
call in somebody who is - PRONTO. As in "before it starts eating
electronics, or worse, burns the house down."
Assuming my diagnosis based on your symptoms is correct, you need your
neutral line tied together solid from end to end. Could be as simple as
twisting a screw in the breaker box, or might need new wiring run - No
way to be certain from this vantage point. Whether you take care of it
yourself, or call in someone to do it, it's something that needs to
happen ASAP if you don't want to come home to discover you're the proud
owner of a brand new computer, complete with blown motherboard, or even
worse, a smoldering pile of rubble.
Don Bruder - email@example.com - If your "From:" address isn\'t on my whitelist,
or the subject of the message doesn\'t contain the exact text "PopperAndShadow"
It is a loose neutral connection at the transformer. Call the utility
company and report the problem of "open neutral" at the transformer,
with voltage fluctuations affection both you and your neighbor.
The possibility of it being your problem is negated by it affecting your
Larry may very well be correct. Have you checked any of your neighbor's
voltage though? I had a problem with fluctuating voltage in the morning,
hitting 135. Power company had a problem at a sub station.
I had the same problem at my house but didn't now it. I thought I
had a bad washing machine because it would not spin dry. The cable TV
service would also go fuzzy. I was checking the cable and learned that
when I tightened the cable connection near the entrance to the house it
would clear the cable picture, and finally once when I went out to
tighten the cable connection it was warm to the touch, bingo! I called
the electric company, they came right out didn't see much wrong but
redid the service connections and that fixed it, the washing machine
worked properly also. It was a bad neutral connection, barely
noticeable, made just a spot on one of the bale connections. My house
has a grounding rod, but I'd built a carport and it covered the area
where the grounding rod is and the ground had dried out enough that it
no longer provided enough ground. The TV cable had become the main
neutral/ground path, and not a very good one.
My friend had symptoms similar to yours. Turned out it was a "floating"
neutral, the neutral wire down the mast and into the meter was loose on
the "house" side connector of the hydro meter.Of course Hydro at first
said nothing was wrong, but my buddy is a pretty smart guy and had to
hire an electrician to pull the meter, they found the lug loose, hydro
still wouldn't pay up but his fluctuating voltages and flickering lites
were now cured. He first confirmed this by lugging a wire at the
neutral, where it went into the mast (the big bare cable) and ran it
directly to the neutral in his fuse panel, this cured the problem so he
knew there was a problem from the mast to the panel. This may or may not
be your problem but it was his.
David Fraleigh wrote:
I hope they don't send a dumba$$ like my power company did. I had reported
an open neutral and this jerk condemned my underground service (350 CCM
copper) without even checking the transformer connections. He was arranging
for a temporary feed laying on the ground until I could dig a new trench for
the new service. A call to his supervisor finally convinced him to climb
the pole. Yep! He found the problem... loose neutral, as I had already
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