If you're going to be doing electrical work around the house, you can always have some essential tools in your toolbox. For example, having the best voltage tester on hand will speed up the workflow and help keep you safe from electric shocks.
Voltage testers enable users to check power sources quickly, easily and safely. But because there are different types of voltage testers, this guide can direct consumers to the model that best suits their needs. To make sure the following models are truly top-notch, we've put them through a hands-on test for situations DIY enthusiasts are likely to encounter. Read on to learn how to shop wisely and what we found when we tested these products.
We wanted to make sure we only recommended the best voltage testers, so we did our homework. We conducted extensive product research to gather some of the best models on the market and then performed hands-on testing to put them through their paces.
Our initial testing included using each model on outlets around the house, as well as electrical cords, both plugged and unplugged. We also used each model to test 240-volt dryer outlets (except, of course, the plug-in models).
We then tested each model to see if they fit in a toolkit and shirt pocket to make sure they were compact and easy to transport. We even measured each model to accurately describe its actual size, rather than the package size provided by most websites.
Models with additional features such as thermometers, flashlights, and different settings on multimeters were also tested accordingly to see if these functions performed as promised. The models that passed our tests were rewarded according to their strengths. Those that did not pass the test were discarded. The result was the best lineup of voltage testers.
With the background knowledge to choose the best voltage tester, it's time to start shopping. Below, DIY enthusiasts will find detailed information about some of the best voltage testers on the market - all from trusted brands that produce quality power tools, and all that have been tested in real-world operation.
Check out the Fluke 1AC II non-contact voltage tester - a quality pen tester from the leader in electrical testing. This tester detects voltages between 90 and 1,000 volts while fitting comfortably in a tool bag or pocket. When it detects voltage, the tip emits a bright red light as an alert.
The Fluke 1AC II voltage tester has a continuous self-test indicator that flashes red to remind it that it is working. It also emits a loud beep to indicate that it is detecting power, but has a disable function in quiet environments. This Fluke voltage tester runs on the two included AAA batteries and has an automatic shut-off feature to save battery life.
The voltage tester is very easy to use during testing. The self-test indicator is a handy feature as it constantly reminds the tool that it is running. It also provides a quick reminder of power when it is turned on (some models take a few seconds). It fits nicely in the kit and the sturdy clip is easy to lock. Turning it on with or without the beep (depending on how long the button is held down) does take some getting used to, but that doesn't affect its functionality.
Klein Tools makes top-notch tools for electrical professionals, and the Klein Tools NCVT-1 non-contact voltage tester continues the company's tradition. It can test AC voltages from 50 to 1,000 volts and fits perfectly in a pocket or pouch.
The NCVT-1 voltage tester uses easy-to-understand red and green indicators to alert the user that power is on: green for no power, red for voltage. It also emits a steady beep when it detects the voltage. It has an auto shut-off feature to extend battery life and a low battery indicator that alerts when the included AAA battery is about to run out.
While it may drain the battery faster than some other voltage testers, the constant green color that the tester emits when turned on proved to be a nice touch during testing. Not only did it indicate that the model was working, but it also slightly illuminated a dark space. We also like that the tester is compact, measuring just 5.5 inches long, making it perfect for fitting into a toolbox or bag. In addition, the automatic shut-off does not make a loud beeping sound, thus saving energy and avoiding startling the user when using electrical equipment. The only complaint is that while the tailcap that holds the battery in place is solid, there are gaps around the tail cap that prevent a complete seal.
For a reliable, value-for-money voltage tester, Sperry Instruments' STK001 non-contact voltage tester is worth a look. This pen tester comes with a plug-in socket tester that allows the user to test wires and sockets in one kit.
The pen tester can detect voltages between 50 and 1,000 volts. When it detects voltage, it emits a loud beeping sound and the clear plastic containing the bulb flashes red. It runs on one AAA battery (included) and has a low battery indicator to ensure it is working properly. The socket tester will alert the user to voltage as well as an open ground, open neutral, open hot spot and reverse polarity. It also tests ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) sockets to ensure they are working properly.
Our assessment of the Sperry kit is that it offers a lot of value for its price point. Consumers can get two tools for testing voltage at a relatively low cost. The plug-in tester proved to be easy to use and made testing outlet wiring configurations a breeze. In addition, triggering the GFCI is simple and requires only the push of a button. The pen tester, however, is very sensitive and occasionally alerts to voltages that are not present, but at least it errs on the side of caution.
Often, electrical professionals need a quick way to test wires and make measurements without having to find a connection or outlet. the Fluke T6-1000 Pro Electrical Tester multimeter's Field Sense setting not only detects voltage but also measures that voltage without disconnecting it. Simply slide the testing fork over the wire and the T6-1000 will report the condition of that wire.
The T6-1000 has all the other common settings of a multimeter, including DC and AC, amperage and resistance measurements. This durable voltage tester comes with alligator clips, replaceable test leads and a holster to keep it close at hand.
As a multimeter, the T6-1000 works as we would expect, providing voltage, resistance, amperage, and Hertz readings (helpful for motor service and other equipment). The fact that it can indicate the presence of voltage between tuning forks is a nice benefit, allowing it to be used as both a non-contact tester and a standard multimeter. However, in our experience, the actual voltage readings are far less accurate than with conventional leads. For your convenience, it comes with a holster, interchangeable leads and alligator clips for easy portability.
For electrical work around equipment that operates at high temperatures, such as boilers, furnaces, and industrial equipment, Klein Tools' NCVT-4IR voltage tester is the smart choice. In addition to detecting voltages in the 12 to 1,000-volt range, this model features a built-in infrared thermometer. The thermometer can detect temperatures between -22 and 482 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a safe, hands-free temperature check.
The pen tester has a two-color LED system: blue means it is working and red means it detects voltage. The infrared thermometer has a built-in laser pointer, making it easier to achieve accurate measurements. Both functions run on two AAA batteries and have a built-in shut-off device to extend their life.
While the NCVT-4IR pen tester - an infrared thermometer and non-contact tester in one tool - is designed for HVAC mechanics and technicians, DIY enthusiasts should enjoy it as well. In testing, the laser was easy to use, though a bit weaker than we would have liked. However, the model has the best range, detecting lower voltages than the others tested. It is quite bulky compared to other pen models, but this size may be considered an advantage, as the model is dust and water resistant to penetration and proved unaffected by either in our tests.
People who want to make sure they can see exactly where and what they're testing should check out Greenlee's non-contact voltage detector. This model has a built-in flashlight that users can turn on when they need to see a dark corner or space.
This model can detect voltages between 50 and 1,000 volts AC. In normal power-on mode, it flashes red to indicate it is working. When voltage is detected, the red LED flashes rapidly and the model beeps to indicate power is present. The pen tester turns off automatically after 5 minutes of inactivity and its rubber grip makes holding it easier to manage.
During testing, we found that many people liked the Greenlee. first of all, the rubbery texture makes holding the model comfortable and less slippery. In addition, the flashlight can illuminate darker spaces enough to find the wire, outlet or device that needs to be tested. We especially like the size because it's one of the slimmest models available and fits nicely in a shirt pocket or tool kit. We would prefer the LEDs to change color when voltage is detected, but the quick blink and beep work well.
Whether it's a spare tool in a tool kit or a technician's primary voltage tester in a shirt pocket, the Ideal Industries 40-1000V AV Volt Aware NCVT is a worthy choice. This model is not much larger than a typical Magic Marker, so it fits easily in most clothing pockets and even slips into the pencil pocket of a tool kit or tool belt.
The tester can detect voltages between 40 and 1,000 volts AC. It has a green constant light that indicates when it is on, and a red flashing light and beep that indicates when it detects power. The rubber body prevents it from slipping out of your hand, and the mute/beep toggle button near the tip is easy to access and use.
We found it easy to carry this tester in a shirt pocket or on a tool belt because not only is it compact, but it's rounded and takes up less space than the square-horned models. We also like the rotary on and off feature, which is more responsive to touch than pressing the standard on/off switch, and the rubber grip makes removing it from the pocket a breeze. However, the pocket clip is very fragile, so if it breaks, the cylindrical tester could easily roll off a table or shelf.
While most pen testers will clip to a pants pocket or fit in a shirt pocket, bulky models can be uncomfortable to carry. Use Fluke's 2AC non-contact voltage tester. At 5.75 inches long and 0.75 inches in diameter, this pen tester fits easily in your pocket. It also weighs only 10.6 ounces, which means it won't feel heavy when clipped to your shirt.
The Fluke 2AC voltage tester detects voltages between 90 and 1,000 volts, and it emits a red light to indicate that it has detected a voltage. However, while the product description claims that the tester also beeps when it detects voltage, the model we used did not (and some online consumers have complained about the same thing). The lack of beeping was a bit disappointing, as all other models tested had this feature. However, this model does not have an on/off switch, which means it is always in "on" mode for ease of use. It doesn't run out of two AAA batteries because of the built-in battery indicator and auto shut-off feature.
Those looking for an all-in-one pen tester will consider the Fluke VoltAlert non-contact voltage tester because of its relatively compact design and ability to quickly turn on and test power. However, those in the market for a tester that can illuminate a dark space - and help see exactly what they're testing - can check out the Greenlee voltage tester.
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