Working with electronics usually means fixing transistors, but without a transistor tester, it is difficult to ensure that they are working properly. Because transistors only have a single output, it is difficult to test them without the proper equipment, which is a transistor tester, or a multimeter with the ability to test transistors. Learn about which tools you need to test transistors before you buy, so that you can make an informed purchase.
Transistor Testing Multimeters
A multimeter is the most cost effective way to test a transistor. Some multimeters feature a transistor testing mode, which allows you to test the single-way currents found in most transistors. These multimeters are inexpensive and very portable. However, it is important to pay attention to whether or not the multimeter supports NPN and PNP testing, because while all multimeters work for testing transistors, the ones with the built-in function make it considerably easier. Multimeters with built-in transistor testing capabilities are best for casual electricians and hobbyists who also need to make other electrical measurements.
Circuit Transistor Tester
A circuit transistor tester is the easiest transistor tester to use because it allows users to test their transistors without removing them from the circuit. The result is that you can test transistors in electronics that were previously working to determine if one or more of the transistors has gone out. Circuit transistor testers or diode testers are more expensive than multimeters but can identify PNP and NPN type transistors, check for power type, and alert the user as to whether or not the transistor is working. Usually, circuit transistors use a simple LED alert system, which offers minimal information to the user.
LCD Transistor Tester
LCD transistor testers are the most expensive and most complex type of transistor tester, but they do offer the most information. Service transistors require you to plug the transistor into the tester, and then wait for the results to display on the LED screen that comes with the tester. In general, LCD transistor testers also test a range of other electronics including diodes, triodes, ESR, capacitors, and more. Electronics hobbyists who want to use their transistor tester all the time can make the most use out of an LCD tester, as it offers the most in terms of versatility, information, and supported technology and formats.