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Which Network Tester is Right for Me?


Data network testers have a reputation for being both expensive and complicated which discourages many electricians from branching out into network installation. However, with Ideal VDV II models available from under £100, this need not be the case, especially as these testers require no special training to operate. At the other end of the scale, an Ideal LANTEK III can cost over £5000 despite seemingly performing very similar tasks so this post will explain the differences within the Ideal Networks range and help users find the best instrument for them.

Copper Network Testing

The Ideal VDV II Network Tester is the entry level instrument in Ideal’s range starting from £94.95. The RJ11, RJ12, RJ45 and COAX ports allow the tester to perform a wiremap of copper internet, telephone and video CCTV cables before returning a simple pass or fail verdict on screen which is accompanied by two lists of numbers corresponding with the four pairs of internal wires. 99% of faults in data cables are caused by incorrect punching down at either end of the cable so fail results where two or more numbers do not match tell the user which pair needs to be re-punched. With no special training or calibration required, the VDV II is a great option for those wishing to verify newly installed or repaired data networks.

Available for £1179, the Ideal SignalTEK CT is the next model up from VDV II and boasts multiple useful features for those installing copper data networks. Firstly, it has an internal memory and test report generation facility which enables the user to certify and guarantee to a client that the network has been correctly installed. This is essential for clients who want printed verification. Additionally the tester provides distance-to-fault readings and performs transmission testing which simulates traffic and therefore checks capacity against demand. This function is perfect for checking that a network is fit for purpose before it is put into use. The SignalTEK CT can perform all the same functions as the VDV II including wiremapping and, like the entry-level model, requires no calibration.

The Ideal LANTEK III is the premium copper network tester in the Ideal range, starting from £5105.00, and it is intended for use on systems that are critical for operations. This might include hospitals or stock exchanges where down time may cost hundreds of millions of pounds or even lives. On such systems, installation should be carried out by a single approved party and by using the LANTEK III an installer can verify and certify a system with a manufacturer’s guarantee.

Fibre Optic Network Testing

The Ideal NaviTEK Pro is specifically designed for IT maintenance professionals. Capable of testing fibre and copper networks, the tester is an excellent troubleshooting tool and can also perform a wiremap and create reports. It is ideal for those performing maintenance and repairs on networks thanks to its ping and hub blink facilities, CDP/LLDP/EDP decoding function, PoE testing functions on fibre networks. It can do all this and more on copper cables and even works wirelessly with the Ideal AnyWARE app.

For those looking to future proof as fibre optic cables become more common the Ideal SignalTEK NT is a really handy option. In addition to a wide range of troubleshooting tests on both copper and fibre, it allows the production of printed certification and performs the same transmission capacity test as the SignalTEK CT.

Selecting the Right Tester

Such a wide range of different testers might initially appear quite confusing but there are a number of simple questions that an installer should ask themselves before purchase. Firstly, will the installation use copper or fibre optic cables? Fibre networks will always need a SignalTEK NT or NaviTEK. Secondly, will clients need printed certification? If the answer is no, then an installer can immediately consider an entry-level tester in the VDV II range. On the other hand, new installations that require printed certification should instantly have an installer looking at a SignalTEK CT. Thirdly, if there is any requirement to perform transmission testing, a SignalTEK is the best option. Finally, if a user is installing a business-critical data network, a LANTEK III is the only tester capable of providing the manufacturer’s guarantee required by such clients. If you need any help selecting the right tester, please feel free to give one of our experts a ring on 0113 248 9966.