If you’ve been looking to buy an electrostatic discharge (ESD) strap, I’m sure you have come across a TON of blog posts, forum posts and Youtube videos telling how those 99 cent ESD straps from Chinese sellers on Ebay are all fake and not to waste your money on them. Most of the information is based on the cost of the straps with no scientific evidence of their claims that they’re “junk”. There’s no doubt there’s a lot of junk being sold, but are all the 99 cent ESD straps junk, too?
They claim to show you proof by showing you that there is no continuity between the skin plate and the chassis clip. After all, that sounds logical if you don;t know how an ESD strap works, what it’s supposed to do and how it is supposed to be constructed. But if you do know, then you know that if an ESD strap doesn’t show continuity is actually, most likely, NOT FAKE!
You seem in order for an ESD strap to work for it’s intended purpose, it must have a total resistance of 1M Ohm. This is usually achieved by most ESD strap manufacturers by placing a 1M Ohm resistor either inside the wrist strap’s snap assembly (between the button snap and the skin plate) or at the end of the wire, usually between the wire and the chassis clip.
So if you want to test your ESD strap that you just bought, you need to check the resistance on the strap. Since the resistance can exist in various places (as stated above), if you just place one lead from the multi-meter on the skin plate and the other lead on the chassis clip, then that will cover the whole strap. Set your multi-meter to any setting at or above 1,000K and test the strap’s resistance, if the meter reads 1M ohms or anywhere close to that, then you can rest assured that it’s a real ESD strap.
Now, are these 99 cent ESD straps the best quality ever? Nope, not even close.
For one thing, the wristband is too small for anyone who has a wrist with a circumference larger than 7.5″, those straps will never fit. I know this because I have owned 2 of these 99 cent straps and my wrist is is exactly 7.5″. They just barely fit me, but they do fit.
Another thing about these straps is that the wire is very thin. My guess is they are 18 AWG at best, but possibly even 20 AWG. This isn’t a big deal for the those who work on their PC once in a whole, but for someone who uses one frequently, it may not hold up longer than a a few months. Same goes with the strap quality.
Amazingly, though, if the 2 have bought, the button connector and the chassis clip (along as the connection between the chassis clip and the wire) seem to be constructed very well, relatively speaking.
So if you’re an occasional PC/electronics tinkerer and you want to save money on an ESD strap, I definitely recommend checking out a 99 cent ESD strap from a Chinese seller. Now that you know how to truly test if it’s made properly (aka not fake), you don’t have much to lose. You will have to wait anywhere from 15-35 days for delivery, though.
BTW: I keep on calling them “99 cent ESD straps”. But in reality, you can get them a little cheaper with all the competition on ebay these days. The last one I bought (the blue one in the pictures) only cost me 80 cents.
Now those wireless ESD straps on the other hand…