A transistor tester is an electronic device applied to check the electrical behavior of transistors. This tester will identify the transistor type, pin configuration, parameter values, and even polarity.
Types of transistors are BJT, JFET, MOSFET, and IGBT.
When it comes to transistor tester, this instrument commonly refers to the component tester. It is not only for transistors but also for other components such as a resistor, capacitor, inductor, etc.
Actually, testing the transistor can be done with a multimeter. You could perform a diode test between the two terminals (base-collector and base-emitter) to ascertain the transistor’s basic integrity. However, this way is a little hassle. If there are too many transistors to test, it takes time.
By using a transistor tester, you could save time and less effort. Simply put the transistor legs to the slots, then lock them. Afterward, the screen will display the identification result.
The best transistor tester has to be at least workable. You cannot expect high accuracy of component measurement, but it provides speed. For example, sorting a lot of transistors take time. Using this tester makes you avoid reading numbers, colors, or datasheets.
Since this device is not expensive, having one unit can be a wise investment in your electronic lab. In this post, we present 6 transistor testers that we gather from the market.
Top 6 Best Transistor Tester Reviews 2021
1. Longruner LCR-TC1 Transistor Tester [Best Overall]
Here are the transistor types along with the parameters that it can detect:
BJT: DC current gain, base-emitter voltage, collector current, collector cut-off current, collector short current, and forward voltage of protecting diode.
JFET: gate capacitance, drain current, gate to source threshold voltage, and forward voltage of protecting diode.
IGBT: drain current, gate to source threshold, and forward voltage of protecting diode.
MOSFET: Gate to source threshold voltage, gate capacitance, drain to source on resistance, and forward voltage of protecting diode.
Aside from that, it can identity diode (showing reverse leakage current as well), double diode, triode, LED, Zener diode, thyristor, triac, resistor, potentiometer, common mode choke, and inductor. Even, it can identify capacitors and display its ESR value when available.
The slot socket is durable. It comes with a screwed plug-in socket where the transistor legs attach to it. There are extra 14 slots overall which 3 of them are for the Zener diode. Nicely, the color display TFT screen also displays the pin slots you are using. If you don’t want to use the socket, some nice test leads come with it as well.
Finally, this rechargeable transistor tester deserves to be the best choice. The price is also reasonable. You could find the charging cable within the package.
- It covers most transistors: BJT, JFET, IGBT, and MOSFET.
- Strong screwed plug-in socket
- Colorful, clear, and easy to read display
- Battery timing is less (around 4 hrs in case of continuous operation)
2. Atlas DCA55 Semiconductor Tester
Atlas DCA55 is the second-best transistor tester that we have on the list. It’s an impressive tester that identifies not only the type of transistor but also the semiconductor material it uses. Using it enables you to know whether it is a germanium transistor or a silicon transistor.
The “scroll-off” button lets you scroll down to the other identification results. These are some parameters that it can show. The parameters will be different according to the type of transistor you are analyzing.
- pin configuration,
- current gain value,
- test current value (Ic & Ib),
- base-emitter voltage,
- leakage current (the current that flows through the collecter though there is no trigger from the base current).
If you check BJT, MOSFET, and JFET transistors, this is the right tool for you. Take some time to read the manual. It allows you to know the measuring range of each parameter. Make sure it is measurable with this tester. Otherwise, it will show “unknown” or other error statements.
The disadvantage of this tester is no graphic display. Besides, no plug-in socket is available. It just comes with red-blue-green test leads. But, it will quickly clamp on the transistor legs.
- Able to detect the transistor’s semiconductor material
- Quick and simple to use
- Small screen & no graphic reading
3. Bside ESR02 PRO Digital Transistor Tester for SMD Transistors
Admittedly, it is difficult to test SMD transistors using test leads or slots. The tiny legs are the reason. Take it easy! The Bside ESRO2 Pro makes it possible and easier.
If you need to check SMD transistors, then it has its own dedicated SMD socket for that. Make sure to apply a little pressure on the transistor. That SMD transistor needs to get tighten so that it’s readable by the tester.
Whereas, if the legs are pretty long, you could also use the slots and test lead probes. So, you have 3 options to perform transistor testing: plug-in slots, test leads/tweezers, and SMD socket.
The monochrome screen will display the transistor type, pin configuration, graphic symbol, and parameter values.
Another great thing is the menu. Press the “POWER/TEST” button until the menu listing shows on the screen. Some of the menus are transistor, frequency, f-generator, 10-bit PWM, rotary encoder, contrast, switch off, etc.
It uses a 9 Volt battery as the power source. You are also free to use external power from a DC power supply. In this case, the DC 9V-12V port is available on its body.
- Provides SMD socket
- 3-way options for transistor testing ( plugin slots, SMD, and test leads/tweezers)
- Selectable menu
- Comes with a discharge resistor slot (for capacitors; over 40 Volts is dangerous)
- This one comes with a tweezer
- Able to use a DC power supply
- Not easy to use due to the stiff terminals
- The “power/test” button is not sensitive; not easy to operate.
4. LCR-T4 Mega328 Transistor Tester [Best Cheap Option]
Because of cheap, it doesn’t come with a battery. Besides, the case is acrylic. It comes with the case parts separated so you need to assemble them when it arrives. The screen is monochrome, but it’s graphic. It gives you clear information about the analyzing result.
LCR-T4 Mega328 works for transistors and other components such as resistors, dual diode, etc. For the transistor testing, it provides identification of PNP/NPN transistor, P-channel/N-channel MOSFET, and pin configuration. Aside from that, it measures the bipolar transistor current amplification factor, base-emitter threshold voltage, etc.
- Graphic screen
- Clear graphic
- Need to assemble the case
5. Drok Transistor Tester
This is another color display transistor tester that you could purchase on the market. It’s from Drok. This one gets so many customer reviews and good ratings. However, one big advantage of this tester is its friendly price.
The screen has 4 divisions: upper, left, right, and bottom. For transistor identification, it shows the type of transistor on the upper part of the screen. The pinout configuration and parameter values are in the mid-sector. Since the graphic and value are separated, it may not easy to read for some users.
If you are not totally amateur in electronics, especially when dealing with symbols, this device should match you.
It’s able to identify NPN and PNP transistors, N-channel and P-channel MOSFET, and other components.
One big disadvantage is the plug-in socket. It doesn’t grip strongly on the body. If you frequently use it, it may fall apart.
- color display
- The socket doesn’t mount permanently onto the body
6. Elenco Transistor Tester Kit with Adjustable Current
Elenco’s look may not as digital as you want, but this one is really nice for learning purposes.
Things to Consider When Buying A Transistor Tester
1. Transistor Type Detection
Your transistor tester has to detect all types of transistors. These are the transistor types:
- BJT: PNP transistor and NPN transistor.
- JFET: N-channel and P-channel.
- Depletion: N-channel and P-channel
- Enhancement: N-channel and P-channel.
2. What Parameters It Shows
Each transistor type has different parameters. The tester has to display as many parameters as possible. It has to display the value as well. One example of the parameters is gain range. You will find this parameter in the BJT type transistor. On the screen, it commonly displays as “hFE” along with its value.
The accuracy of your tester when measuring the value of the transistor’s parameters may not good. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not a precision measuring device. So, it should be acceptable. However, you need to assess the tolerance. In comparison with the datasheet, you will know the tolerance percentage and consider it every time you do testing.
4. Measuring Range
Your transistor tester is designed for some specific measuring range. For example, according to the manual, your transistor tester provides a gate threshold range of 0.1 V – 5.0 V for the MOSFET transistor type. If your MOSFET transistor has a gate threshold of more than 5.0 V, the tester will not able to display that parameter with the correct value.
By reading the manual and realizing the measuring range of each parameter, you know whether that tester is right for you or not.
5. Screen Display
The screen display should be quite large for easy to read. It doesn’t necessarily provide a color display, even though it’s a plus. Most importantly, it can present as many descriptions as possible.
6. Slot Socket
Slot socket is where you plug in the transistor’s legs to get tested. This socket has to strongly hold on to the body. As we discover, it’s better to have a screwed socket. It will be durable for frequent use.
If it comes with an SMD socket, it is better. Many SMD transistor legs are small. Slot socket is not suitable for this purpose. It would be better off to use the SMD socket for SMD-type components.
7. Other Testing Ability
We can use this tester to identify other components as well. This is a plus point. You will find it able to measure the resistance, capacitance, inductance, and ESR value, etc. Thus, it’s not weird that your component tester can act as either a capacitance meter, ESR meter, or LCR meter. Bside ESR02 PRO, for example, even provides the table of electrolytic capacitor ESR values on the backside of its body.
Using your component tester to measure ESR value, LCR value, and inductance may sound good. However, you shouldn’t use this instrument to measure either the ESR or inductance; ESR stands for equivalent series resistance. A standalone high-quality ESR meter or LCR meter would be better off for that purpose.
Testing the components is a fundamental thing if you work in electronics. You could test many components with the help of the analog or digital multimeter. But, a dedicated transistor tester would test transistors quicker. On the market, instead of a standalone transistor tester, you will find a transistor tester referred to as a component tester.