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 Post subject: Test Leads
PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:14 pm 
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Location: Rutland, VT
I ran across this statement in a report I was reading and thought might be interesting to post for discussion:

"By mutual agreement it was determined that while instrument test leads are a shock hazard and may be capable of imitating a flash event test leads in and of themselves do not constitute a flash hazard capable of causing the onset of a 2nd degree burn."

The test leads are what you would find with a quality industrial type multimeter.

I believe the discussion is just on the leads themselves causing an arc flash and not that the meter is set on the wrong function and explodes, i.e. performing voltage check with meter set to current scale.

Barry Donovan, P.E.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:54 pm 
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If they are a shock hazard then they should not be used. That's part of the point of using test leads instead of just cutting and trimming out open wires!

Second though, the statement that they are not a flash hazard in and of themselves is absolutely true of EVERY electrical component, it is the whole "system" that becomes a flash hazard. Without an energy source, a wire (test lead) is not enough. Without wiring, energy sources are not in and of themselves sources of flash hazards. So this statement is a tautology.

In the tests that were used as the basis for the current IEEE 1584 empirical calculation standard, a #14 wire was placed between electrodes to initiate the arc. Effectively, it is a "fuse". More recent work has determined that in low energy conditions (low V*I), a smaller gauge wire is necessary to get an arc flash in the first place. Clearly test leads would work just as well if used as the "fuse".

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