How To Test for Voltage

Testing voltage output means dealing with electrical current. Take note that this is a hazardous activity, so ensure that you have the proper tools and undertake it with the utmost caution. Read on and see how you can test for voltage and ensure safety while doing so.

  • Look at the fuse box and determine which circuit you need to work on. Once you have determined which breaker delivers power to the circuit you want to test, turn it off. Never risk plugging in gadgets and home electrical appliances such as a lamp, just to test for voltage. This offers an unreliable measurement of voltage, and can leave you with a damaged bulb. Always check for power with the use of a voltage tester.
  • Use your voltage tester.  Depending on how knowledgeable you are in dealing with electricity, use a tester that you’re familiar or comfortable with. You can either use a multimeter or a simple voltage-tester. As the name suggests, a voltage-tester only tests for voltage, whereas a multimeter tests for voltage, as well as amperage and resistance. If you think you can handle a multimeter, start by setting it to AC voltage. Select the AC voltage which is closest to what you will measure.
  • To use a traditional voltage tester, insert the two leads into the slots of a regular outlet. One slot should receive only one lead. If the outlet is hot there is a portion on your handheld unit that will notify you.
  • If you use basic voltage testers, it’s similar to the traditional one, however, there are small lights which will illuminate to notify you that voltage is present.
  • The plug-type voltage tester is another option. This tester looks like a regular plug and you simply have to plug it into an electrical outlet to detect voltage. A series of lights will indicate voltage detection. Indicators will also tell you if wires are reversed or if there is a neutral contact.
  • Another type is called a No-Contact voltage tester, named so because it doesn’t have to touch an electric component’s actual terminals for voltage readings. This tester has a tip that easily fits in the slot of a receptacle. It illuminates, or in some models, makes a sound, when voltage is detected. The disadvantage with this type of voltage reader is that it’s so sensitive, it might pick up on other wires’ voltages.
  • If you use a digital voltage tester and get a reading higher or lower than your normal house voltage, you should ask for assistance from an electrician immediately. Fluctuations in voltage might result in serious appliance damage or even fire, and must never be taken lightly.

Remember to always test equipment prior to use. Always check for proper operation to avoid any damages or injuries. Most electrical devices come with a voltage specification, in which the minimum and maximum voltage supported is indicated.

In the U.S., the standard current in businesses or homes range from 110 to 120 volts. Some heavy duty circuits, such as those used in air conditioners, dryers, or ovens can be easily identified by the non-standard form of their outlet plugs. These large equipments use voltage ranging from 220 to 240 volts, which is also standard in Asian and European countries.


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