INSP-3 Wiring Inspector Circuit Tester
Waiting to get it right...
My vendor tells me that NONE of the AFCI testers are doing great in the field, so while my review contains some criticism of Amprobe, I have my doubts that there are "better" testers out there. According to my contact, there should be a satisfactory replacement by June 2014.
I ordered an Amprobe Insp 3 and have attempted to use it twice.
The first time was out of the box and I simply tested some AFCI circuit breakers by wiring a receptacle directly to a few different breakers in my own electrical panel. Testing the AFCIs seemed to work great; I was very happy.
However, when I tried to use it to test knob and tube circuits for voltage drops in a customer's house, the tester would immediately trip AFCI circuit breakers.
I simply wanted to test the circuits/wiring and NOT the AFCIs. In other words, I would turn the unit on, plug it into a receptacle and the breaker would trip before any test could be performed. I tried this with 2 different AFCI circuit breakers with the same results. The same thing also happened with a GFCI receptacle. I did NOT touch the AFCI or the GFCI buttons during these tests. One thought did occur to me: if the AFCI protected circuits had shared neutrals, maybe that was causing the breaker to trip. Unsure.
So, to eliminate that possibility and just to make sure it wasn't the wiring, I attached a receptacle directly to each AFCI circuit breaker at the electrical panel and had the same results -again, I did not touch the AFCI button. I also did do an AFCI trip test by turning on the unit, pressing the AFCI button and plugging it into the receptacle I had attached to the breaker -I got a clean AFCI test with a good test result.
I feel I understand how to use this tester: before purchasing, I read the instructions online and watched Amprobe's (and other's) youtube videos to help me decide whether or not to purchase. Before using the tool, I also read the instructions.
Essentially my issue is this: I can't make a voltage drop test on an AFCI breaker without near-instantly tripping the AFCI before the test even seems to start.
I have contacted Amprobe tech support, they agree that there is a problem, and they instructed me to contact my vender for a replacement.
May 5, 2014
Not currently Combo-Arc Fault Capable (??)
The INSP-3 may have great attributes for conventional wire testing as well GFCI, but completely fails in the newer combo arc fault circuit breaker requirements as per NEC 2008/2011. I put one of these in the hands of a contractor who comes to our supply shop daily; this will not trip combo arc fault breakers like the Eaton BRCAF115 and by consequence, he failed his inspection. The INSP-3 may work on conventional arc-fault protection circuit breakers, but NOT the newer combo variants.
December 31, 2013
Why are there two copies of the INSP-3 manual on this website?
However, there are two copies of the manual on this website - one for "INSP3" and the other for "INSP-3."
The copies appear to be the same. Suggest you get rid of the one named INSP3, since the actual product name is INSP-3.
September 2, 2013
My INSP-3 gives inconsistent results
I've just started using an INSP-3 I purchased new from Amazon.com. As a very experienced electrical engineer, I think I have a full understanding of how the device is to be used and what things should or should not affect the measurements it reports.
To be fair, the following represents my INITIAL findings. If I come to a different conclusion after further investigation, I'll try to update this review.
I've observed a significant problem, which could be due to a deficiency in the INSP-3 (but might also be due to some other factor, although I've yet to determine what it might be). Namely, the results the INSP-3 reports VARY significantly if I repeat the test of any particular receptacle, either right away or after a few minutes. For example, it may report a total voltage drop (hot + neutral) of 5.8% one time, 6.5% another time, and 7.2% in another trial. In many cases, such as in this example, the amount of variation is outside the 2%/2-digit accuracy specified for the INSP-3, and makes it difficult to have confidence in the results!
One possible interfering factor is the presence of other loads on the branch circuit being tested. But I believe I eliminated this factor by knowing all of the receptacles on the branch being tested and disconnecting all loads.
Another possibility is that the INSP-3 starts measuring too soon after the prongs of the test plug first make contact with the receptacle. There could be some intermittency in the connection until the plug is fully seated in the receptacle, so that if measurement is occurring during this period, the results could be corrupted. This would be a design problem that Amprobe could have avoided by building in enough delay before measurement starts.
A third possibility is that the INSP-3 measures over too short of a time interval. This, too, could lead to variance in the displayed result. Like the previous factor, this would be a design problem.
Yet another possibility, of course, is that my INSP-3 is defective or has been abused. Since I haven't abused it and am (to the best of my knowledge) the original owner, this possibilty would seem to boil down to defect.
I hope Amprobe responds to this good-faith review.
August 11, 2013
Not made for the professional
Excellent toy for the amateur or DIY'er but the quality or reliability is not there yet for the professional. We're on our fifth one in 2 years. I can not stress enough that If you are a professional expecting to use the product daily, move on, don't waste your money. Eventually you will get the "internal fault reading" contact factory. This fault renders the unit inoperable and requires replacement (at your cost). The factory will not repair the unit. We have made multiple calls to the factory and no one knows or can explain to us why this happens. We have purchased our last one.
July 30, 2013
A decent tool, but not perfect.
The INSP-3 is a nice addition to a set of testing tools, but it has a serious weakness. The GFCI test circuit is not implemented very well and uses circuitry which heats up a little after each test, eventually causing the unit to trip a GFCI breaker or receptacle as soon as it's plugged in and before you press the test button (after maybe four or five consecutive tests). This really needs to be addressed as many of the kitchens I install need to be tested in multiple locations (Plugmold, remote GFCI protected recepts, etc.) and the tester simply isn't up to the task.
For non-protected circuits it works well and offers a lot of good information.
I don't use the AFCI test often, so I can't comment on that.
July 1, 2013
Problems with Arc fault testing....
I have gone thru three testers in three days. They've been good with getting me replacements. But when I get a new one I'll do three to four arc fault tests and it comes up with "internal fault contact factory" on the display. Also GFCI trip gets stuck, so every time you plug it in it'll trip the GFCI.
If all your doing is testing for voltage under load, voltage drop, or ground resistance. Then this may be a good model for you... If your looking for a arc fault or GFCI tester. This may not be the model for you.
February 12, 2013
Home inspectors ruin our industry....give our customers a real break and back it with facts.....this is the meter to do it....
Highly recommend and will be purchasing soon, after a trial from my supply house.
The meter performs tests that we routinely don't and will add to your treasure trove of additional income producing tools
May 24, 2012