It doesn’t matter how laid-back or paranoid you were up until then: there comes a time in everyone’s life when they start to worry about when the batteries are going to die. For some, it may happen when they’re out hiking, get lost as darkness is closing in, and begin wondering “When was the last time I changed the batteries in this flashlight?” For others, it happens when they’re rushing to finish a project on a single laptop-battery charge, because the plug-in power supply is nowhere to be found. For me, it happened right after the battery in my first car quit on me in the parking lot as I was trying to leave work- after replacing it, I’d get a pang of panic every so often, and ask myself, “Wait a minute: how long is this thing good for?”
The sad thing is, most of our Average Joe battery-related woes are nothing compared to what IT techs and facility managers have to deal with on a regular basis. Critical things like servers, fire alarm systems and security networks use battery backups in case of power outages, so that important data isn’t lost, and safety isn’t compromised. To be on the safe side, you pretty much need to replace batteries more often than necessary, so that you don’t run the risk of them dying on you when you need them most. The only problem is, “just-in-case” battery changes can end up costing you a lot more than you really need to spend. So how do you stretch out the time between battery replacements without putting your system at risk?
The answer, in this case, is the Triplett Chek-A-Cell battery tester. Designed to evalute the charges of 6 and 12 volt sealed lead acid batteries that fall between 1 and 10 amp hours, this unit gives you a quick reading of the state of your battery when you apply the Chek-A-Cell’s two probes to the battery’s contacts. The built-in Ohm meter mode allows the Chek-A-Cell to detect both AC and DC voltage, and you get an almost instant read-out on a large LED display. Because the process is so quick and easy, it lets you keep tabs on what’s really going on with your batteries, instead of always assuming the worst and overspending. A little bit of battery knowledge can really pay off.
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.
I just wrapped up a meeting with our representatives from Triplett, a test equipment manufacturing company that’s been in business since 1904. They’re known for offering a huge variety of electrical and cable testers, and while many of them are made for professional technicians, I was reminded of one of their simplest products, which also happens to be my favorite (and yes, I do own one). Ever heard of the Sniff-It voltage detector? It’s a little device that can check for the presence of AC voltage without ever having to actually make contact with the outlet you’re testing.
About a year and a half ago, my parents purchased and remodeled an older home, which at the time had several power outlets that were “fidgety” at best. That is to say, the receptacle wiring was somewhat suspect. We had to make a few updates, as well as replace wallplates throughout the entire house. Being one of those “better-safe-than-sorry” types, I decided it would be more than worth it to buy a Sniff-It, because I was a little uneasy about the boys (my husband, brother, and Dad) operating on bravery alone.
The tester really couldn’t be simpler to use – the only button on it is the on/off switch. Just slide the switch to “on,” watch and listen for the quick light flash and audible chirp that let you know that things are up and running, and then you’re ready to sniff out some voltage. Just hold the Sniff-It close to the outlet or wiring in question; if tester stays quiet and no lights blink, you’ve got the all-clear to start work, but if it starts blinking and chirping, you know that the circuitry or components are still electrified.
As you can probably tell, I’m already a big fan of the product, but I still learned something new about it today. As it turns out, the Sniff-It is now a standard-issue tool for all field technicians of a well-known security company. Several years ago, one of this company’s technicians was tragically and fatally electrocuted when attempting to move a manhole cover that was, by some fluke, in contact with live underground circuitry. It was one of those things that you’d never in a million years expect to happen, but this poor guy, who was just doing his job, ended up losing his life because the pre-existing conditions at the jobsite were far different than what could be expected, or what actually met the eye. The company has now taken the extra life-saving step of providing all of their techs with Sniff-Its, because this little tester actually has the ability to save lives.