Best Ideal SureTest Arc Circuit Tester

I am looking to purchase an Ideal Circuit Tester and wanted to hear some feedback about the different models…


Is the higher price of the 164 & 165 justified for the features available?

Where is the cheapest place to purchase it?

Thanks for any feedback on the products! :grin:

Is the higher price of the 164 & 165 justified for the features available? YES, if you’ll use them.

Where is the cheapest place to purchase it?
Don’t Know - Got mine locally

You can try ebay, they have great deals for them every so often so you have to keep looking for it…also you can get them used at great price. I bought a 61-155 (older version of the 165) for $69. Had it for year now and its great.

Get the Ideal 61-165 Circuit Analyzer (if your spending that much get the better one) … otherwise just use a standard $10 3-light outlet tester. IMO the 61-059 is basically a glorified 3-light tester.

JMO & 2-Nickels … :wink:

I would agree with that logic…:wink:

P.S. Also keep in mind that using equipment like an Ideal SureTest 61-164/165 Circuit Analyzer is a doubled edge sword for a home inspector.

It can help you pick up issues you might otherwise miss using a $10 3-light tester (bad ground, bootleg ground, etc). But it is specialized equipment used by specialists to evaluate/analyze circuits that puts you outside/beyond the standards of practice (e.g. checking voltage drop).

Getting a circuit analyzer is something to seriously consider. But don’t just use it blindly if you don’t really understand what you are checking, and apply the results carefully.

JMO & 2-Nickels … :wink:

However I consider the Thermal Imaging to be more “specialized” and beyond a standard of practice in my opinion but many are jumping on that bandwagon. You can use a suretest and be withing the scope…but with anything it can be easy to wander outside the protective curtain.

I would put the SureTest and FLIR in the same category of specialized equipment where a home inspector has to be careful … :wink:

I see voltage drop mentioned as part of using this test equipment. What would you do with this measurement?

I use it as a means to help identify or confirm other issues within the circuit(s).

What would be some examples? How would you write up the results if your tester indicated a voltage drop of 5% on a 120 volt circuit?

I’m curious because voltage drop compensation isn’t required by the NEC (unless you’re inspecting fire pumps).

Generally speaking, 5% really isn’t enough to get my attention.

Excessive VD is just another “indicator.” In the majority of cases, it will simply indicate loose or poor connections.

I often use it (in my reporting) to show some of the effects of AL branch wiring when present.

The long and short of it - excessive VD is an indication of high resistance within the circuit. There are many possibilities as to the cause, but at a minimum, it reduces the efficiency of the circuit.

I know the NEC is pretty much mute with regard to VD in residential construction, but when I get readings of 10% or more on a 15A load, I get a bit “suspicious.” I’ve seen as high as 50% in new construction, which (IMHO) is a reportable defect.

If you are properly trained with these types of devices it can aid in detecting poor connections from one device to another due to an increased voltage drop among one of the things. In skilled hands these devices can tell you alot…in the wrong hands they are a very expensive 3 light tester…

HI’s should not worry too much in regards to VD…( hmmm…yeah I said it…lol )…now since VD is not within the scope of what an HI does…he still can detect many things from suretest VD stats…like motors that burn up alot or are burning up may be a result of too much voltage drop and the motor being damaged and so on…remember they dont have to adhere to the National Electrical Code and since it does not mandate VD requirements ( other than for FP’s and selective coordination specifics )…in fact I know of one inspector who uses a suretest to test all cord and plug motors ( were applicable) to ensure optimum operation…which would be a problem if the voltage drop ( tired of saying VD now ) was excessive.

Again not something the normal HI should worry about but if you learn to use it well…it can tell you alot of things like any other diagnostic device. Just remember…with knowledge comes liability…:wink:

Just my take on the thing…I can work MINE like a well oiled machine if I want to…lol

Here is an article from Mike Holt’s site about using the SureTest to check voltage drop … deffinitely beyond the standards of practice for HI’s, but some do check voltage drop.

All of the above is true. It depends entirely on how you write up the discrepancy in the report. I may use a testing device to gather information for myself and often do but I rarely put it down in the body of my report. There are a lot of things I “know” about a home when done that never get put into the report. It is for me, no one else. Again, you and you alone manage your customers expectations and how the report is delivered.

Well said … :wink: