Power meters are sexy now

Power measurement was once thought the worthy but dull end of the test market. Not any more can power measurement be called “dullsville”.

Four power inputs

Four power inputs

Product announcements in this week’s magazine by Tektronix and Yokogawa threaten to glam-up the trusty power meter on your test bench.

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Power design has always been an important part of product development. But in a world now rightly obsessed with power efficiency and with government legislation setting standby power limits, measuring power consumption has become a critical part of all designs.

If it is the tiny current levels of microcontrollers or the high power loads of motors, there is a requirement for precision power measurement in almost every electronics or electrical design project.

Test firms have been quick to seize the opportunity. Scope giant Tektronix has introduced its first power measurement products in the last few months. While Yokogawa, arguably the leader in power measurement, has moved to grab the initiative with an instrument which for the first time, combines a calibrated power meter with a 20MHz scope.

Oscilloscopes with a current probe are routinely used for basic power measurement, but now there is a greater need for accuracy and precision.

It is interesting that Tektronix given its first single-phase power analyser, the look and feel of an oscilloscope.

These maybe early days in the power market for Tektronix, but is it easy to see where it will take power measurement – the scope/meter combo.

We can guess this is where Tektronix is heading, because Yokogawa is already there.

The hope is that this new focus on power measurement will see levels of software and hardware innovation, which has been transforming oscilloscope design in the last 20 years, being applied to the design and use of the once unglamorous power meter.


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