Triplett Breaker Sniff-It (Type 2): Because “Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe” is No Way to Find the Right Circuit Breaker
Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You’re sitting in your home office, hammering out a blog entry (or Facebook status update, or similar) on your laptop, when suddenly the overhead light goes out, and your PDU starts screeching for lack of electricity. Just as you’re saving your work and powering down so that you don’t lose anything, you hear a muffled “Ummmmmm… sorry!!!” drifting up from the basement, and you realize exactly what’s happened.
It’s an age-old story, one that’s resonated throughout human existence for as long as there have been circuit breakers. Someone needs to replace a light switch or receptacle, so they mosey over to the breaker box, throw what has to be the right breaker (according to the time-honored “Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe” selection process), and plunge the wrong part of the house into the depths of darkness and electrical deprivation. Oopsie.
Aside from the sheer annoyingness of it all, there’s also the danger factor. There are some people out there who are trusting and assume that as long as they’ve snapped the supposedly correct circuit breaker into the “off” position, they’re clear to safely begin work. That type gets shocked far more often than I do. Me, I prefer to take the more paranoid route and check a few hundred times that the circuit I’m about to touch is nice and de-energized. That process is significantly shortened if I know for sure that I killed power to the right breaker to begin with.
And how does one do that, you ask? Very easily, thanks to gadgets like the Triplett Sniff-It Type 2 breaker locator. It’s a super simple two-piece electrical tester that leads you straight to the correct breaker switch the first time around, no guessing or squinting required. To use it, you just plug the receptacle unit into the outlet on which you’ll be working, and then take the “sniffer” part of the test set to your breaker box. Run the nose of detector over the circuit breakers, and when the tester starts to beep and blink, you’ll know you’ve found the right one.
The Sniff-It Type 2 isn’t limited to use with receptacles; if you need to customize your testing, you can also use optional accessories like light socket and alligator clip adapters to tailor this amazing little detector to just about any job.
It’s a classic device that’s been used in sitcoms and movies for decades: the main character accidentally drops something small yet very important, and then watches in helpless horror as it skitters away and then falls through a grate or goes down the drain. You’d think that writers would get tired of this little scenario, but it just keeps coming back. And do you know why? Empathy. They know that no matter how many times this plot twist pops up, we, the suckers in the audience, will always gasp and think “oh, noooooooooo!!!!” And that’s because we’ve all pulled the exact same ridiculous move before. Way more than once. We know how much it bites to have something happily in-hand one minute, and then be frantically trying to get it back the next.
Well, apparently the folks at Triplett have gotten good and fed up with this ongoing plight, and have decided to do something about it. While you can’t keep someone from being a butterfingers, you can give them tools to dig themselves out of predicaments, right? That’s the kind of thinking that inspired the GrabLite. Thanks to a little crafty engineering, Triplett’s newest hit not only lets you seen where your lost items are hiding, but also equips you with an extremely handy extension for retrieving them.
Here’s how it works: to the untrained eye, the GrabLite looks just like an LED flashlight, which it is. But here’s the catch: there’s a telescoping, magnetic retrieval arm hidden inside. Just pull on the small, round metal piece in the center of the light, and you end up with a slim and flexible third arm that can reach into tight spaces that you’d never be able to maneuver into on your own. And the fact that this extendable arm is tipped in an incredibly strong Rare Earth magnet just makes things better. With this baby, you’re not limited to picking up only the tiny, practically weightless things like screws and bolts. My coworker actually snagged a pretty substantial full-sized screwdriver, no problem at all.
Heads up, Hollywood: looks like you’re going to need a new comical plot device.
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.