Electrostatic meters measure voltage, field, and charge without transferring the static charge to the instrument. They eliminate the need to modify parameters due to changing loads. Electrostatic meters can determine if a static charge is present, measure the amount of static (if any), and indicate the polarity of the charge. Because electrostatic discharge (ESD) can damage sensitive electronics, electrostatic meters are often used to monitor the presence of electrostatic charge in environments where static electricity can damage these components or hinder certain processes. They are used in the production of sensitive electronic components for computers and medical devices, and can be used in laboratory or research settings to monitor the potential buildup of static electricity.
Electrostatic meters include both electrostatic locator meters and electrostatic field meters. Electrostatic locators meters are so named because they sense the presence of a charge on the surface of an object. Electrostatic field meters measure the electrostatic field produced by the charged surface by using a reference sensor. This sensor must be referenced to ground, and the distance between the sensor and the surface being tested must be known to ensure an accurate measurement. Other types of electrostatic meters include electrostatic volt meters, devices which measures the actual potential voltage at the surface of an object.
Product specifications for electrostatic meters include form factor, display type, measurement range, device performance, and output interface. Choices for form factor include bench or free-standing, clamp meter, rack-mounted, handheld, and computer board. Electrostatic meters with analog or digital displays are commonly available. Charge range, DC voltage range, and AC voltage range are important measurement specifications to consider. Device performance is specified according to bandwidth, sampling rate, maximum channels and operating temperature. Choices for output interface include universal serial bus (USB), general-purpose interface bus (GPIB), RS-232, binary coded decimal (BCD), and digital-to-analog (D/A).
Many electrostatic meters carry marks and/or conform to standards and certifications. CE Marking indicates that a product complies with the essential requirements of relevant European Union (EU) directives that uphold national standards for health, safety, and environmental protection. Products that bear a CSA Mark have been tested by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and meet applicable standards for safety and/or performance. These standards are written and administered by organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a non-profit organization that tests components, systems, and materials according to its published standards for safety. In the United States, electrostatic meters that receive UL approval bear a UL Mark.