BENNING IT 130 VDE 0100 Installation tests – safe and easy
To securely carry out safety tests on electric installations up to 1,000 V, in accordance with standards, a suitable tester is required. Now, technical developments have made it possible to perform the individual safety measurements more easily, with final documentation production, supported by modern installation testers and software. POWER news (Pn) interviewed Tobias Enck from the Department for Testing and Measurement Equipment within the BENNING enterprise.
Pn: Mr Enck, what’s so interesting about the BENNING installation tester for users in industry and the different trades?
Enck: The BENNING IT 130 installation tester is simple to use, because all the individual measurements required by DIN VDE 0100/105 can be selected via the rotating selection switch. It’s also important for the person doing the tests that all Type B RCDs can be checked, and that the production of documents is supported. BENNING Installation testers are supplied with a wide range of accessories. They represent a complete, cost-effective package.
Pn: What kind of functions and support do testers receive that other manufacturers don’t offer?
Enck: In general, installation testers are fairly similar, since their basic purpose of testing the safety of stationary electric installations is predetermined. But anyone taking a close look would find differences in handling, e.g. small details with the measuring procedures and the adjustment of parameters and limit values.
The HELP function shows a possible testing set-up using the testing adapters supplied. And, by the way, the six AA batteries used in the installation tester can be recharged directly inside the tester using the charger cable.
What’s really unique for BENNING customers is the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week availability of our colleagues on the Technical Hotline. They can answer any questions concerning testing and measurement equipment.
Pn: As you said, the test functionalities are defined in the standards. Could you describe them and explain some of the special features?
Enck: The first thing with any existing electrical installation is to check the continuity of the earthing conductor. In the final analysis, this is what handles any fault currents. For this purpose, the BENNING IT 130 generates a test current of + 200 mA DC. It is possible to set a limit value, so that the installation tester can support a PASS/FAIL judgement. In this function, it is also possible to make a zero adjustment for the test conductor.
Test voltages between 50 V to 1,000 V DC can be selected for measuring insulation resistance, along with appropriate limit values.
One sub-function of the line impedance measurement, where the characteristics of the circuit breaker determine the parameters and limit values, is the measurement of the voltage drop. It’s important that the test engineer knows that, when testing loop impedance, the RCD does not necessarily have to be tripped. In addition, the measurements for line and loop impedance are carried out with a very high test current of 6.5 A, offering considerable advantages.
At the end of the test – before checking the voltage or the phase sequence in three-phase networks – it’s necessary to inspect the effectiveness of the residual current devices.
The BENNING IT 130 offers four methods of checking RCDs for types AC, A, F, B and B+. Depending on the chosen method, the contact voltage, tripping time and tripping current are shown in the results (procedure with step-wise increase). All the results can be stored in the internal memory, which is designed for 1800 measurements, and can be used at four levels.
Pn: You emphasise the point about setting test parameters and limit values. Is this a feature of the installation tester not offered by every manufacturer?
Enck: Correct. Not every manufacturer offers this possibility on all the test functions.
Pn: There are optional accessories such as the earthing set, the Lux sensor, and the current clamp adapter. When are these needed?
Enck: The measurements that can be carried out with these accessories are not relevant for testing with every company. This is why we offer the accessories on an optional basis. The earthing set enables the use of the three-wire measurement method to establish earthing resistance in a building; the Lux sensor is normally used for checking illumination at workstations, and improvements can be made if the illumination is too low; and the BENNING CC1 and CC3 plug-in current clamp adapters are used for measuring and documenting load currents.
Pn: Documentation is required on completion of testing. What support is given to the test engineer by the BENNING IT 130 and the PC WIN IT 130 software?
Enck: The PC WIN IT 130 software records the data from the installation tester and writes it to corresponding tables. This means that a large proportion of the documentation is already taken care of, and people no longer have the bother of making notes. If the test engineer uses the ‘Pro report’, a protocol can be produced in accordance with ZVEH specifications [Trans: ‘ZVEH’ = ‘Central Association of German Electrical and Information Technology Trades’]. It’s also possible to select other forms of report. If the installation structure and the memory spaces in which the individual measurements are stored haven’t been assigned in advance, it is still possible to rework them.
The BENNING IT 130 transfers the measurement results to the software. In the reverse direction, the installation structures can be transferred to the installation tester. We call this bi-directional communication, which has the advantage that during testing the test engineer is provided with the correct description of the memory spaces.
Pn: Is it correct that the software is royalty-free?
Enck: Yes. Since BENNING started offering installation testers, the software has always been inclusive and royalty-free. It can be installed as frequently as necessary within the company, and can be used permanently. Clients can also find a complete version of the software on our website in case the supplied software is lost.
Pn: People don’t buy VDE installation testers every year. What do you say to the question of operating costs?
Enck: At various events, installation engineers are always telling us about the enormous operating costs arising from calibration. BENNING keeps these costs very low at €117.50, since we only charge the cost that we incur ourselves. In comparison with other manufacturers, this is very reasonable.
Pn: How easy do you think it is to operate your installation tester?
Enck: You should ask the user this question – they decide whether an installation tester is good and fulfils expectations. Electricians who talk to us at trade fairs and other events confirm that they are easy to handle and use. And given the many years of success with installation testers we’ve enjoyed since 2006, we believe that both operation and use are easy to understand.
Pn: We have only been talking about the BENNING IT 130 installation tester complete with the memory and documentation software. When do you recommend the BENNING IT 115 without the memory?
Enck: The BENNING IT 115 is also a fully functional installation tester, just like the BENNING IT 130, and is supplied with extensive accessories. Of course, when purchasing installation testers, many decision-makers place high importance on a solution for documentation, and also the need to test RCDs sensitive to universal current.
However, where these requirements are not rated so highly, the BENNING IT 115 becomes interesting. Users are from companies that manage residential buildings or small companies of specialist electricians that only carry out a few VDE 0100 tests per year. These users normally decide on a compact installation tester with a good price-performance ratio, like the BENNING IT 115.
Pn: Mr Enck, many thanks for this very informative interview.
contact: Tobias Enck
telephone: +49 28 71 / 93 111