Problems with Ideal SureTest Circuit Analyzer #61-165

Help. I typically check receptacles in homes with an Ideal SureTest Circuit analyzer (#61-165). This unit will apply an appropriate load to a circuit and measure voltage drops. I will recommend further evaluation if over 10% voltage drop. I originally purchased it for testing AFCI at receptacles. I just recently discovered I lost an inspection due to a Realtors recommendation, since I recently “almost” killed a deal from being wrong about measured voltage drops on one of his listings. The owner had an electrician check voltage drops and they came up with a 3% voltage drop, which is of course acceptable. However he did mention they (electricians) plugged in a drill or a lamp to check it. I explained that my testing device costs several hundred dollars and is engineered to test the circuits with a specific load. Does anyone use this particular (or similar) tester and check voltage drops. Does anyone check for voltage drops??? I intend to follow up with the purchaser and find out if possible who the electrician was and challenge them regarding this. Any input on this one greatly appreciated. I do not think many inspectors in my locale are checking voltage drops. Thanks.


John M. Wickline
JW Home Inspections, Inc.
Hilton Head Island, SC


Been there done that just haven’t been caught that wrong yet.

:)Thanks for the reply Barry. Interesting thread.
It appears to be a slightly controversial topic.
Do you still test for Voltage drop?
I think I am getting the picture that most electricians will pull out a small drill or small table lamp to use for a load test, and assure the home owner everything is fine.


John M. Wickline
JW Home Inspections, Inc.
Hilton Head Island, SC

Model Description List Price Sale Price 61-165 ARCFAULT 165 w/AFCI $312.31 $282.71 Model Accessories List Price Sale Price 61-179 CARRYING CASE $14.45 $14.01 61-182 REPLMT,PWR CORD,SURETEST ARCFA $9.16 $8.89 61-175 GROUND CONTINUITY ADAPTER $17.07 $16.55 61-176 ISOLATED GROUND ADAPTER $17.07 $16.55 61-183 LIGHTG CIRC APT,SURETEST $33.92 $32.91

Which accessories do you need with it

I had 2 ST testers. My helper used one and it found a lv problem. I, for whatever reason, used mine and it said it was Ok. Hmmmm?

Which is right and which is wrong? So I called the manufacturer and asked how to calibrate. They said “send in with a check”. Well I have two of them and do not know which one is wrong. Well heck it almost cost as much calibrate them as buy a new one.

So I am real smart. I figure I’ll buy two more and cull out the bad one. Well here come the two new ones and they disagree. Now I have 2 that say OK and 2 that say not OK. So then I say I’ll buy 3 more and use them to cull . . . . . well forget that.

Until I can verify calibration I use them for bootleg neutrals and GFCI testing.I simply recommend an electrician verify voltage and voltage drop when other electrical is done (and I always find something).


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I would really like to see a suretest next to a 1440w space heater and a meter on a long circuit, see if they agree. I fear the short pulse of the suretest might give different results than a regular load. If there is anyone with a suretest in SW Florida near Ft Myers and you want to try it, I have some long circuits, a scope with a current probe and a bunch of meters. We can play with this. We might even be able to get some scope pictures for the gang.

Mine has been verified in the field by 2 different electricians (see link in post # 2). Next time you plan on going to the NACHI meeting let me know and we can use one of Richards test panels to verify yours against mine.

Curious, why are checking afci’s with a hand tester? What are manufature’s instrutons?


One reason could be, when testing the AFCI at the panel it trips as required. One could assume everything is fine and not bother to walk thru the house or go upstairs and check the receptacles in the room. But using the hand tester the HI can observe the lights on the tester determine it is working properly. Case in point; I did a large house in an upscale neighborhood. The AFCI breaker that was marked Mstr Bedroom was in fact wired to the kitchen and the Mastr bedroom was not AFCI protected at all. Had I stood in the Garage and used only the AFCI test, I may not have found this out.

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Make 2 trips :wink:
Trip the AFCIs from the panel, be sure the BR receptacles, smokes and lights are off, then reset it and see if they all came back on.
A lot of muni inspectors skip step 2.

Also why are we checking for voltage drop. Is this not outside the scope of the SOP?

Outside the scope of our SOP? Absolutely. I do it as a matter of practice on all new construction inspections, and include my findings in the report. I’ve been doing this for several years, and have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on in most cases. Generally, I report it as an “efficiency” and/or “workmanship” issue, unless there are other obvious indications.

I check for VD on older homes as well, however, I only report on excessive VD when there are indications of other problems within the circuit.

There’s much more to understanding and interpreting VD. It’s not just a matter of pushing the buttons on our meter.

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Exactly. That is the way I do it; one to check to make sure the press to test function is operational and then to make sure the brkr in fact is providing the protection to the proper circuits. The episode with the miswired AFCI make me think about how many times are things mislabeled and never get caught by the Code guys or subsequent owners. Like neglected HVAC, most homeowners never open the panel or have a reason to.

Friday Insp.

I think that when there is a huge voltage differential in a house, there is something there of concern. Maybe the readings may not be 100%, but they indicate there is something going on.

Ah, David Anderson…

Your photo raises questions:

Was it a 15 am circuit?

Where you plugged into a duplex receptacle, or a single?

Was that outlet > 100 feet from it’s service/distribution panel?


I will step way out on a limb here and say that every Home Inspector on this forum lives in a house, apartment, mobile home or some other type of dwelling unit.

Now I sure do hope that I haven’t said something untrue in my statement above and if I have I do apologize for making that mistake now.

I can’t help but wonder how many of these people have circuits in their place of dwellings that are less than 50 feet and only one device per circuit.
Anything less and they have in their own place of dwelling just what they are calling out in other homes.

When I see voltage drop in a report I can’t help but wonder just how many places there is in this world today that has the same problem that is no problem at all.
In office spaces where all this electronic equipment is in use and there is an electric heater plugged in so the feet and legs stay warm.
I can’t help but wonder just what would happen if a 15 amp circuit was loaded to 15 amps at one receptacle and something else was plugged in at another receptacle.

All I can say is keep calling out voltage drop as it is obvious that you ain’t gonna stop.

A lamp or a drill won’t put enough of a load to make a proper test. Voltage drop is proportional to load so 3% at 3 amps would be 12% at 12 amps.

Seeing you are a non-believer, I have some IR Scans (that I will post when I get back to the office)that show hot wiring through the sheetrock wall on one such “voltage-drop circuit”.

I found the bad connection and have scans of that one too.

Are you saying 99VAC is okey-dokey on a 15 amp circuit load?

But then you probably don’t believe in that stuff either!?

I live under the 59th St. Bridge. Business is not so good, but I am feeling groovy!!


Thank you, I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. If I could I would give you a greenie for that.

Someone give him one for me please.