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Part I- Can ESR Meter Test Result Be Trusted?

By on February 24, 2012

There are many brand of ESR meter currently selling in the market and I’m sure every seasoned electronic repairers should have own an ESR meter by now. With ESR meter we could locate bad electrolytic capacitors (e-caps) fast. Have you ever wonder if the result produced by the ESR meter not accurate? or have you ever came across any e-cap that checks good but fail when under load? I would like to hear your experience before I continue with the post in few days time-thanks.

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21 Comments

  1. Amir Mukhtar

    February 25, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Every repairer have none option in order to trust on precision meter readings. On the other hand, sometimes meter plays with user . like meter shows perfect component reading but component might be faulty in operational.
    Therefore, another option like-wise Test component (Best One) will be the best option in order to solve issues with devices.
    Also, its upto the repairer itself, what procedure will follow so as to resolve problem:

    thanks you Sir,
    A Student
    Amir Mukhtar

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  2. admin

    February 25, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Hi Amir,

    Thanks for the input.

    jestine

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  3. Mircea

    February 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I met swollen capacitors indicating good at measuring. I also found good esr capacitors but low capacity.

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  4. Mick

    February 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    ESR Meters are inaccurate, I went to do an in-home repair and the esr meter indicated that a few capacitors on a laptop motherboard as bad. But in was wrong i used a conductive pen on the traces and solder points and voila the laptop was up and running, and still going strong with a simple conductive pen for 1 year. I have sold the ESR Meter and no longer use it

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  5. admin

    February 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    HI Mircea,

    Which brand of ESR meter you are using?

    Jestine

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  6. admin

    February 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    HI Mick,

    Thanks for your comment. Do you mean the laptop problem was cause by a broken line (not by bad e-caps as indicated by the esr meter) and after using the conductive pen it worked fine? Have you use the esr meter to check on the larger e-caps instead of the SMD e-caps on laptop board?

    Jestine

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  7. Mircea

    February 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Hi Jestine I use this model

    http://www.chsinteractive.co.uk/electrical-components/tools-service-aids/test-equipment-spares-accessories/testers/digital-meter-esr-1-tester-supplied-with-test-leads-and-battery-esr-1-elv-german-instructions.htm

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  8. freefixrepair

    February 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I use a Peak Atlas ESR70 and I love it. I haven't ran into any bad caps that tested good on the ESR meter.

    The only issue I can foresee, is since some power supplies require EXTRA LOW ESR caps, if you have a cap that tests 'good' ESR wise (within normal limits), it may still be 'bad' within strict extra-low ESR limits, and therefore could still cause abnormal results within your power supply.

    Also, since some caps may vary in ESR depending on temperature, you need to test ESR across the range of operating temperatures to get an accurate picture.

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    • Jestine Yong

      February 29, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Hi Freefixer,

      That was a very good comment!

      Jestine

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  9. Mick

    December 26, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Hi, Jestine I used the ESR Meter on SMD Caps, does it not work on them?

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    • Jestine Yong

      December 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Mick,

      Yes it will still work on them. If you not sure about the good esr value you can always compare with a good one first for reference.

      Jestine

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  10. owais akhter

    May 10, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Hi All,
    I'm using Blue ESR meter and i can say i have an accurate tool for Electrolytic capacitor testing.With this superb tester i found many E-caps from many circuits and they were tested good with Capacitance meter & Analog meter.The good thing is i don't need to remove E-caps from pcb and i can save lot of time and testing accurate.

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    • Jestine Yong

      May 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Hi Owais,

      You are right. ESR meter could cut troubleshooting time tremendously.

      Jestine

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  11. marq bartlett

    December 10, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I still have problems trusting ESR's I have two ESR meters, a blue, and a expensive Uni-T LCR Meter. Then I have the ESR chart on the Blue ESR, and two others used by others. I just get to many different readings, and different charts that make a Cap bad on one chart, and fine on the Blue ESR chart (on the product), I've spent hours testing used Caps, and there is just no clear line, and I have waisted more time checking caps with ESR meters, then just replacing them all. I just it was like other test, either its open, or shorted, good or bad. The only caps I have found bad, that were actually bad, looked bad (bulged, leaking or had burn marks). I have bad caps, which show fine with my blue ESR meter. Its still so grey, temp, on board, off board, which meter you use, which chart to use, and in some cases, at which frequency you are testing them at, as with the case when using a good LCR meter, do you test at 100HZ. 120HZ, 1K HZ, 10K HZ, OR 100K HZ, because with each frequency, the test result is also different, both the capacitance, and ESR value. So, for now, if I suspect a bad cap, I replace it, and stop wasting time with different readings, and comparing the different results with different charts. Its frustrating to us new people trying to get a straight answer.

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    • Jestine Yong

      December 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Marq,

      Don't get confused. Stick to one ESR meter and follow that chart. Blue ESR meter spec rated as 100kHZ thus I don't test cap on any other frequencies as this will confuse you.

      Jestine

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    • Warren

      August 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Which expensive Uni-T LCR meter have you used?
      I have considered purchasing UT-612 but will probably keep
      using my Blue ESR meter.

      Warren

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      • Jestine Yong

        August 18, 2014 at 10:10 pm

        HI Warren,

        I don't own any of this UNI-T tester thus I can't give any suggestion on this.

        Jestine

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  12. Andy

    May 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I've had the Blue ESR meter for about 2 years now & it's used almost daily, so far I haven't had any problems with false readings. 1thing I did when I first bought it though was to replace the clips with a pair of needle sharp probes. Jestine is right always use 1 ESR chart, if you start comparing between different charts it's just going to confuse things.

    Andy

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    • Jestine Yong

      May 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Andy,

      Good to know you are having the Blue ESR meter. It is a fantastic meter that all repair techs should have on their repair bench.

      Jestine

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      • Robert

        August 19, 2014 at 3:42 am

        Hi Mr. Yong. I agree that the Blue ESR is a great meter but I wish I would have bought the kit instead of the pre-assembled. The components are all out of shape and looks pathetic - I'm going to have to dis-assemble the whole board and resolder everything. Also the kit gives you a socket for the chip and 2 test resistors, but they don't give you them with the pre-assembled kit and they don't install the socket!
        So I advise people to get the kit form because the pre-assembled unit is just pathetic in my opinion.

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  13. Andy

    May 23, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Hi Jestine: The Blue ESR meter & Blue ring testers are excellent bits of kit, to be fair I don't use the ring tester often. I'd recommend both testers to anyone.

    Andy

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