It is the first step in static elimination, which protects workers from harmful or even deadly electric shock, as well as prevents catastrophic failure, permanent damage and interference in sensitive electronic devices.
Static meters measure voltage, field, charge and polarity without transferring any charge onto the actual instrument, as they are able to measure static electricity within inches of the surface area. After static electricity has been found, the next step in static elimination is to use an eliminator product, including anti static mats, gloves and ground straps to dissipate, conduct or balance the electrical charge. Besides troubleshooting a suspected ESD issue, static meters also test the performance of ionizers.
They are accurate, sensitive, responsive and able to work for long periods of time. They are simple and easy to operate, and often involve pressing a large red button with one finger. Static meters are used in manufacturing facilities that assemble and produce computer equipment, all electronics, medical equipment, cell phones and semiconductors.
Clean rooms, computer repair technicians and anyone doing work on internal electronic hardware should use a static meter to determine whether or not a static eliminating device is necessary. Static meters are small and require only a one-hand operation to press a red button while holding it close to the area in question.
Most static meters’ readings are determined by their +/- accuracy between one and five percent, while others determine it according to the measured voltage. To improve the results, LED ranging lights are used to give a more detailed readout. The results are accurate if the instrument has been properly zeroed, the distance between the meter and the target is close enough and the target surface area is at least five square inches. 9v batteries are strong enough to power most portable static meters, and others come with an electrical cord and require plugging in to operate.
Because static meters tend to be costly, sensitive equipment, most manufacturers sell them with plastic or leather carrying cases so they are more protected in transit and storage. Static meters are more commonly seen in computer and electronics manufacturing facilities that work in areas with the risk of static build up.
Computer repair and at-home maintenance rarely use static meters and choose to acquire static eliminating devices instead because they are much less expensive, and get the job done immediately rather then making it a two step process.