How to Use Voltage Tester?

How many times have you actually needed a voltage device? Even though it might sound like a foreign object, you have to accept that you have felt a dire need for this nifty little device at least once in your life.

Generally used for testing the presence and measurement of voltage, voltage testers are also used to determine current, continuity, resistance, etc. It is not only simple to use but also cost-effective. But before buying one of these, you should know how to properly use it.

Want to know how to use voltage tester? Follow our article to find out. We have thoroughly researched to provide you the very best of knowledge. So, without wasting any time, jump right into it!

What Is a Voltage Tester?

Best voltage tester is an electric device that is used to find out whether electricity is present in any section of an apparatus or not. Since this process takes place under test, this device is also known as a test light or test lamp.

Although a voltage tester is simple in configuration, it is quite effective. Considering its price, it can be quite thrifty as well. Compared to other options like voltmeter and multimeter, this is more cost-saving.

Is It Safe to Use a Voltage Tester?

When it comes to electrical testing equipment like voltage testers, safety is a concern to many of you. You can rest assured because voltage testers are reasonably safe. But user knowledge is required here. You can avoid any unwanted incidents by being careful.

There are a couple of things you can do to practice caution. First of all, you can test it out on safer equipment before trying on the required apparatus. This will give you an idea of the voltage tester itself.

Secondly, always remember to come in contact with the insulated handle only. If you touch any other part of the device, you might risk an accident.

Types of Voltage Testers

Before getting into the using process of voltage testers, you should know a little bit about the different types. It is because the usage of different voltage testers varies from one another. Here are the most common ones listed.

Neon Voltage Tester

We are starting with the most commonly used voltage tester of current times – the neon voltage tester. Also known as circuit testers, this basic tester is compact and lightweight.

Within the body of this tester, there is neon light which denotes the presence of voltage. Because of this visibility aspect, it is popular among customers.

However, there are some downsides to this tester. It cannot calculate the amount of voltage present. Besides, you need to be extra careful since making contact is a requirement to use it. But since this tester is cheap and does not require a battery, it is very popular.

Non-Contact Voltage Tester

Non-Contact Voltage Tester

Next up we have the commonly used non-contact voltage tester. Unlike the popular neon circuit testers, this one is safe!

As the name suggests, you do not need to make any contact with the parts of this device to determine the presence of voltage. Since it functions on a no-contact basis, a battery is installed within it to make it work.

Usually, this tester comes in a stick form. All you have to do is use the tip of the stick to a potentially voltage-infested area. Then, you will be notified via a reading. Other than detecting the presence of voltage, it also gives a basic calculation of the amount.


Of all the voltage testers there are, multimeters provide the most flexibility to the users. This multi-faceted device is effective in testing many different outlets. Since it is highly efficient, the device is mostly used by professionals.

The previous options we mentioned only managed to detect voltage and provide a rough calculation of its amount. However, multimeters not only detect the presence of voltage but also provide accurate readings.

Since it has many settings, we advise you to learn about the tool if you intend to buy it. It might be expensive, but the purchase is worth it!

Wand Meter

Like multimeters, wand meters are also mostly used by professionals. Electricians keep this exclusive tester in their kits. Since it is exclusive, it also means it is expensive. Buy it only if you have advanced voltage detection work with it.

There are two methods in which the wand meter functions. The first method is very similar to a regular circuit tester. You can simply test the presence of voltage by the contact of the leads. For the other method, the device has wands with electrostatic properties that can measure voltage from a close distance.


Wiggies are interesting testers that have a gun-like appearance. Although they are multifarious, they are easy to use and simple in the configuration. Aside from voltage, you can also determine polarity using these testers.

Since it is available in both analog and digital configurations, professional electricians use it a lot.

Although it does not provide as accurate results as some other testers, it is still more capable than the basic ones. Furthermore, it does not have pre-installed batteries. If you are a beginner, you will love this tool. It is inexpensive as well.

Plug-in Testers

Yet another inexpensive product, the plug-in testers have made their mark for the low price point. This basic tester can only detect voltage presence in general, grounded channels. Moreover, it works best with three slotted outlets.

Like neon circuits testers, these have neon lights to indicate readings as well. However, the readings are a bit advanced here. Different light indicates different results. Similar to other inexpensive testers, this one does not have a battery either.

Digital Clamp Meter

Although a digital clamp meter is regarded the same as a multimeter, these two are not the same. There are many fine but distinct differences between the two testers. If you are concerned about safety, this might be the superior pick.

Mostly used by professional electricians, this device consists of a sensory technology that can detect the presence of current. Using its handles, it can hold wires as well.

Continuity Tester

As the final addition to this list, we present the continuity tester. It is a bit different from regular testers. Instead of being constructed as a whole device, it has indicators and cords on two ends. You make a contact with both and receive a light notification that indicates an entire circuit.

A continuity tester should always be used on disabled switches, devices, or wirings. If the concerned outlet remains connected to the outlet, it may result in a dangerous accident. Therefore, you must remain cautious. Although it is powered by batteries, this device is quite inexpensive.

How to Use Voltage Tester

Now that you have learned about the types of voltage testers and their functions, it is time to find out how to use this device. Here’s a complete guide for using different types of voltage testers.

a) Using Non-Contact Voltage Tester

Step 1: As the first step, you need to ensure that the power of the switch, wire, plug, or any fixture is completely turned off. It is a precautionary step so you must not skip it.

Step 2: In the case of switches, remove the outer covering. Proceed to check if there are any hot wires or not by touching the tip of the tester on them. If the wires are still hot, wait for a bit. After a while, when it is safe, remove the switch.

Step 3: When it comes to a bulb, you have to examine it by touching the tester under the socket. Although the power is off, make sure the switch of the light is turned on. When you detect no voltage, you can pull the bulb fixture out.

Step 4: If you directly want to test out live wires, you have to pull the concerned plus or switch out and insert the tester slightly deep inside the space infested with wires. Remain extra careful at this step.

Step 5: For hot and high-voltage cables, you will have to cut them before inserting the tester. If the light of the tester remains on, you have to assume that the cable is still hot.

b) Using Neon Voltage Tester

Step 1: At first, you need to disconnect the power of any outlet. Even if it is a ground wire, make sure the circuit is completely switched off.

Step 2: In case of testing ground wires, after disabling the main circuits, set the wires apart. Then, turn the power of the circuit on.

Step 3: Take the two parts of the neon voltage tester and make contact with one part with the live wire and another part with the wire on the ground. As an indicator, the neon light will notify whether the voltage is present on the ground wires or not

Step 4: For a box comprised of metal, instead of making direct contact with the ground wire, you have to make contact with the box.

c) Using Continuity Voltage Tester

Step 1: Like every other tester, the first step to using a continuity voltage tester is to turn off the power of the related circuit.

Step 2: If you want to determine distant wires, you need to fixate the clip and the wire first. Then, you have to thoroughly search for the other wires with the tapered end of the tester.

Step 3: Wait for the tester to show a light indication. If you receive notification from the indicator, you can determine the presence of voltage.

Step 4: For a switch, you will need to remove it first. Then, you have to fixate one end of it and make contact with the other end with the tester. A light indication will notify you of the switch condition.

d) Using Plug-in Voltage Tester

It is quite easy to use a plug-in voltage tester. With quite a good number of lights present (three, to be exact), you can easily get readings.

Step 1: Since this tester is simple in configuration, it can only be used for plugs. At first, you need to insert the outlet tester into the plug.

Step 2: There is a key right above the tester. If the presence of voltage is detected, the light will be turned on.

Step 3: After detecting the presence or absence of voltage, you need to turn the power of the circuit on. Remember to always turn off the power of the circuit before the initiation of the process.

e) Using Multimeter

Step 1: If you are using a multimeter to calculate the amount of current, use an additional section of wire to measure.

Step 2:  Pull the additional piece of wire and attach it with the wire that advances towards the resistor. Then, insert the tester device to measure the current. At this stage, the current will flow through the tester.

Step 3: To directly measure the voltage, you have to dial your multimeter to ‘V’, which indicates voltage. Then, you have to insert one lead to the common jack and another to the volt jack.

Step 4: After connecting the indicator leads with the circuit, wait for the results. Finally, detach the indicator leads. Make sure you detach the one inserted into the volt jack first.

So, this was a concise guide to using different types of voltage testers for different purposes. The ones that are not mentioned specifically more or less follow the same methods.

Time to Test the Voltage!

That is all we had, folks! We sincerely hope we have been able to answer all your questions regarding voltage testers. Now that you know how to use voltage tester, it is time for you to get into some action.

Voltage testing can be quite expensive if you use the wrong devices and frequently seek professional help. To make things simpler, take matters into your own hands. All the best!

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