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Zenith 5-S-29

Equipment and Tool Reviews

Test Leads

In many ways your choice in test leads can be as important as the meter you selected for the job. Test leads and sets range in cost from a few dollars to well over $100. They can make the job easier or be down right dangerous to use. Here I'll talk about a few sets I've found that do the job adequately without breaking the bank.

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In the photo above the Fluke TL-175E set is my favorite. They feel good in my hands and the cable is flexible. The end twists to move a shroud over the tip leaving only the very end exposed if you are in a tight area. Although the tips are pointed, they are still too blunt to attempt to pierce a cable.

The "E" in the TL-175E means they came with the screw on lantern (banana type) ends. I did not think I'd use the lantern ends but I have actually used them several times. I have found they are quicker to put on than swapping to banana leads when setting power supplies and such.
The TL-175 leads are rated CAT II 1000 Volts, CAT III 1000 Volts, CAT IV 600 Volts.
The Fluke TL-175E test leads cost around $22 US. Around $20 (TL-175) without the screw on bananas.
TL-175 Specifications

The Pomona 5953A set I use when I need to get into really tight areas or when I need to pierce insulation. The tips are needle sharp, adjustable, and go from completely hidden to extend over 3 inches. What I don't like about them is the handles are a little thin for my liking (I have big hands) and they feel cheap. They also have thinner cable. The thin cable is very flexible but does kind of get tangled on things once in awhile. Still these have very sharp tips and great for probing in tight places that I can't get to easily with the Flukes. They are rated CAT II, 600 Volts.
This Pomona set costs around $26 US.
Note: This Pomona 5953A set looks to be the same as the Fluke TL40 set (only this Pomona set costs less).

5953A Specifications

I have a set of Fluke test leads with all the different ends that came with my 87V DMM kit but I find I use the Fluke TL-175 set I purchased separately most of the time.

EXTECH TL-809 Test Lead Kit
EXTECH TL-809 Test Lead Kit

If you are on a budget check this kit out.
These DMM probes are CAT III rated, 1000 volts. The 42 inch PVC leads are stamped 2,000 volts. The leads are 18 ga. and very flexible. The set comes in a really nice case and includes a nice pair of alligators with rubber covers (they push on the probe ends) and a pair of grabbers . The probe points are not sharp and they have the banana ends built on to them accept the alligators. The probes are not as thin as the Pomona 5953As and don't have the shrouds the Fluke TL-175s have but they feel good in my hand. The grabbers seemed to work fine and the grabber ends have a nice stiff hook.

The only negative is the probe tips have the lantern (banana) type ends that don't come off making the probes fatter. They might be a problem sometimes getting into tight spaces. Still, for under $17 U.S. for this whole CAT III probe kit including the case it's probably the best test probe kit anyone will find that's on a tight budget.
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Larger Photo - Kit
TL-809 Specifications


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