10 Best Voltage Testers Reviewed & Tested
A voltage tester is an important tool for any electrician or DIY enthusiast. When you are on any electrical work, you need a quick and simple way to safely determine whether there is electric current in a wire, outlet, or electrical device. Only then can you know whether to proceed or stop the operation.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Klein Tools
However, with the various testers in the market, how do you establish which is the best unit? Don’t be fooled by the price though. You don’t have to break your bank to acquire a premium voltage tester. That’s the purpose of this buying guide. Here, you will find details on non-contact testers, best multi-function voltage testers, best value, and the best overall voltage tester.
10 Best Voltage Testers
3. Fluke 1AC-A1-II
Periodic self-test – Voltage testers will break down without warning. However, you will always know if the Fluke is working thanks to its periodic self-test which works whenever you turn it on. It is indicated by a quick flash that is a sign that all components are in good conditions and that the batteries are charged.
Automatic shutdown – To save batteries, the AC-A1-II will shut down after 5 or so minutes of inactivity.
You will also like the design of this tool. It is made of a durable plastic that will protect the fragile components from damage. Also, it is yellow and gray and will stand out reducing the likelihood of you losing it.
The tip is a translucent plastic with some LEDs that show when it’s on and when there is voltage. It can test to detect voltages from 90 to 1000V which is enough for most electrical applications. You press the green power button on the side and touch the tip on any surface to test for electricity. If there is voltage on a cable or outlet, the tip glows red in unison with a beep. The beep can be irritating, but you can mute it. Finally, it uses 2 AAA batteries which are easily replaceable and has a 2-year warranty.
Continuous self-test, and voltbeat technology
90V AC to 1000V AC range
20 to 90V AC control circuit
Who is it for?
The AC-A1-II is a tool for electricians and DIYers who want a tool that exclusively detects standard voltage.
- It doesn’t use that much power - pair of AAA batteries should last you more than 5 years
- Continuous beeping can be infuriating and so Fluke added two sound modes - audible and silent
- The button is in a recess, this avoids accidental engagement
- Sold with a pair of batteries
- It discriminates low voltages
2. Milwaukee 2203-20
A single mode of operation – Several companies have tried to make dual range detectors but they have fallen short as one had to fumble with sensitivity dials. The Milwaukee 2203-20 makes it such that you don’t have to concern yourself with switching from low to standard voltages. It will automatically detect and differentiate between the two.
Automatic shutdown – When working, you will drop the tool and as it is jostled in the toolbox, it is sometimes accidentally turned on. In such instances, the 2203-20 will beep 3 times and after shut down after 5 minutes if not used. This is a feature that helps save batteries.
As for the first impression, this tool has a pen-like design which makes it extremely easy to use. Being a non-contact tester, it features a flat tip to detect voltage in wires, outlets, and devices. Also, it uses two AAA batteries.
When using this tool, it will illuminate a green light to indicate that it’s on accompanied by an audible beep. There is also an LED light that serves as a flashlight when in a dark workspace. When detecting low voltage, the tip will blink a bright yellow with a beep that is in unison with the light. When detecting a standard voltage, the light blinks a bright red, with a continuous tone. It is also lightweight, and extremely durable.
Dual range tester – It can automatically detect low and standard voltages
Different colored indicator lights
Powered by two AAA batteries
Lightweight at 2.4 ounces
Who is it for?
If you are in the market for a tool to specifically check the voltage, then this is the item for you. Also, if you are working in a loud environment, you will appreciate the tones that accompany the lights.
- The pen-like design makes it easier to use
- The LED flashlight is handy in dark workspaces
- The automatic shut down will help save your batteries
- Continuous beeping
1. Klein Tools Non-Contact Tester
Most companies sell standard and low range units separately, but for a non-specialist, it is only wise you get both in a single tool.
Compatibility – As stated above, the most impressive feature of the Klein NCVT-3 is its dual-range. It can measure from 48 to 1000V and from 12 to 1000V. This is commendable, knowing the level of sensitivity required to test for voltages between 12 and 48V. Also, it works with tamper resistant outlets which are now required by code. Also, it automatically switches between ranges, unlike other detectors which need a sensitivity dial.
Light – First, the Klein NCVT-3 features an onboard LED that functions as a flashlight and can be operated independently from the testing function. It is a great feature, especially when working in a dark room. In addition, this tool has different indicator lights to show the voltage level you are dealing with. If the unit detects a low voltage, the two lower orange lights will light up, and one or the three upper red lights will light up when dealing with a standard voltage.
Another interesting feature is the durable body of the tool. It will protect the sensitive components of the tool from a fall of up to 6-1/2 feet. If you do not intend to use this tester constantly, we advise you use replaceable batteries. An internal battery will be non-functional in a few years and the likelihood will be that you have barely used it.
It’s also a little bit larger than other non-contact testers which make it easier to use. The bright red clip is also a pleasant addition as it allows you to clip it to your belt or pocket.
To operate the tool, first press the large button on top to turn it on. There will be a beep sound, and the tip will flash to confirm it’s on. You can then place the tip where you want to test. You can read the voltage on an LED graph on the side of the tool.
Dual range voltage detector
Bright flashlight to illuminate the work area
LED bar graph to indicate the level of voltage
Non-contact voltage tester
Who is it for?
The Klein NCVT-3 is a tool for non-specialists and DIYers. It is also exclusively for detecting voltage.
- Dual range detector and can test between 12 and 1000V
- It features a pen-style but it is a bit larger than the previous model which makes it easier to work
- It has a flashlight that functions independently and one that you can use to light up your work area
- Extremely easy to use
There have been complaints of this tool being inconsistent.
6. AstroAI Digital Tester
Data hold function – There are instances where you might have forgotten a place to record your readings. In such occasions, you can use the data hold function to store your reading. Press and hold the hold button to record it. However, it can only hold one reading.
Back-lit display – Taking readings can be a hassle, especially in dark rooms. However, the AstroAI has a back-lit display which makes them visible even in dark environments.
Another fascinating feature of this AstroAI is the 2 times sampling speed. The kick-in stand will also awe you as it makes working on a bench much easier. Finally, it has an overload protection and a one year warranty.
A back-lit display that makes it easy to read in dark work spaces
A kick in stand
2 times per second sampling speed
Can test both AC and DC
Data hold function
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Dimensions: 5.1 * 2.8 * 1.4 inches
Who is it for?
If you are looking for a second voltage tester, this is the best value for money. It is also perfect for home users and newbies in the electrical industry.
Has a large display that makes working in dark areas a breeze, and a kick in stand for horizontal surfaces
Includes a 9-V battery
It is compact making it easy to fit in an electrician’s toolbox
It isn’t the most durable
5. AIDBUCKS PM8908C
Safety guarantee – What we loved most about the Aidbucks is the safety guarantee it offers. It can distinguish between a null and live wire. When testing a null wire, the LEDs in the light will light up in unison with a slow-paced audible alarm unlike when testing a live wire where the LEDs are accompanied by a fast-paced audible alarm.
Flashlight – In most models, you cannot have a flashlight that is independent of the testing function. The PM8908C is an exception as it features one with its own separate switch that will allow you to navigate dark areas in your house.
Another interesting aspect about this tool is the sensitivity adjustment. It can detect low, moderate, and high voltages without the need for sensitivity dials. The automatic power off is also worth considering. You don’t have to worry about your batteries since this device will power off if it’s not used for 3 or so minutes.
The safety this offers is also exceptional with a CE category III 600V safety rating. It’s also portable thanks to the pocket clip, and its pen-like design makes it convenient to use. The durable polycarbonate also protects the inner components from damage, whether in the toolbox or in the event that you drop it.
The 24 months warranty is another reason why you should seriously consider this tool. Finally, you can tell if the item is operational with the LED in the power button. Whenever it is lit, the item is operational. Otherwise, it’s time you get a new one.
Dual-range capabilities (12 to 1000V)
2 AAA batteries
Test pencil switch
Automatic power off
Who is it for?
The Aidbucks PM8908C is ideal for hobbyists and home users.
- Meeting the CE CAT III 600V rating at this price point is remarkable
- It has a flashlight that is independent of the testing function
- Dual range with automatic sensitivity adjustment
- 24 months warranty
The device can be overly sensitive
4. Amprobe PY-1A
Detects various values of DC and AC current – This happens to be the most fascinating aspect of this device. The neon lights will also indicate the different voltages. For AC voltage, it will point out 120, 240, 277, and 480V and 160, 330, 380, and 600V for DC current.
Safety – Electrical work is a dangerous affair and tools should adhere to all safety standards. First, there are no voltage testers that provide the CAT III 600v rating at this price point. Also, it complies with most international safety standards and is designed to fit US and Canada outlets.
Another exciting feature of the PY-1A is the built-in lead holder. The holder makes the tool easy to keep in your pocket or use it for one hand operation. The compact size of the tool also increases the ease of operation. Also, with a bit of experience, you can deduce every condition that a three-bulb receptacle can display.
CE and CSA certified for CAT III 600V
AC and DC enabled
Compact size with lead holders
Bright neon lights
Who is it for?
Although it can be used by DIYers, this is a professional tool, and you must have the professional skills to get the most from it.
- Features a lead holder that eases operations
- Unlike three-bulb receptacle tester, the Amprobe PY-1A can indicate the voltage reading
- It meets international safety standards including the European Union consumer safety standards and the CSA for category III 600V
- High quality build ensuring that it will serve you for a couple of years
- The prongs are too short for 220v outlets
7. Neoteck Pocket Tester
Multiple functions – The multi-function capabilities of this Neoteck was what we found most pleasant. First, you can test for AC and DC current, continuity, diode, resistance, and others. Also, it has auto-ranging and thus will select the appropriate range for your test. The readings on this tool are quite accurate too.
Safety – While dealing with electrical, safety should always be a priority. Also, the device itself should have features that protect the fragile components. First, the case is somewhat non-slip and soft to protect the device should it drop. It also features overload protection, automatic shutoffs, and double current fuses. It also meets the CAT II 600v requirements plus double insulation.
Something else we found interesting with the Neoteck 8233D is the large backlit LCD display. The backlight makes it easy to read in dark areas. The cover too has a stand to place the device at 45 degrees making it easy to read. Finally, it has an 18-month warranty.
Large back-lit LCD display
Multi-function tester: You can use it to test continuity, AC and DC voltage, current, continuity, etc.
Data hold function
Includes a 9V volt battery
Who is it for?
Ideally, this is an item for people joining the electrical field and need more than a tester.
- It is sturdy and well built given the price point
- Performs very well and gives accurate readings
- Not all readings are accurate
8. Etekcity MSR-C600
Good display – Most customers expect poor display with low-cost voltage meters. To our surprise though, the Elekcity display s top of the line, with comprehensive markings and symbols. Also, you can read it appropriately from different angles, unlike most affordable units which have low contrast under particular conditions.
Data hold function – If you intend to use this on a daily basis, you will appreciate the data hold function. If you don’t have a place to note your readings, just press the hold button, and the unit will record the reading until you press the hold button again.
Some other remarkable features of the MSR-C600 are the low battery indicator and energy conservation. Though a low battery indicator doesn’t seem that impressive it will save you unpleasant surprises. Most professionals forget to turn off their testers in the heat of the moment and a voltage tester will suddenly die on them without warning.
As for energy conservation, the Elekcity has an auto shut-off function that will shut down your tool after 15 minutes of inactivity.
The item is designed to handle hits and bumps, and though it doesn’t have a rubber casing, it does have a bag which enables you to keep the tool in top condition. The MSR-C600 is powered by 2 triple A batteries and has a max jaw opening of 26mm. Finally, it is a compact item and thus easy to carry around.
Automatic power off
Max jaw opening of 26mm
Includes two AAA batteries
A lead and clamp voltage tester
Who is it for?
One benefit of this tool is its ease of use. It’s thus ideal for beginners and professionals alike. However, if you want the full benefits of this item, you should have a bit of experience with multimeters. It’s also an affordable tool.
- Energy conservation thanks to the auto shut-off function
- A compact device
- Has clamps and leads increasing versatility
- Data hold feature
- The display is a bit of a concern. It should be larger to make reading easier especially if you are making multiple readings
9. Thsinde Tester
Build quality – One of the most impressive features of the Thsinde multi-function meter is the build quality and especially the display. This is a lightweight tool but rugged at the same time. It has a tilting bail for convenience when working on a bench plus a hanger and grippy holster. The display is large, clear, and backlit. The backlight allows you to work in dark areas.
Multifuctions – There are various functions of this digital tester. It not only measures the current, diode, continuity, but also the AC and DC voltages. Nevertheless, some more notable functions are the relative, max and min, and range. The max and min briefly store the max and minimum values. This is especially handy when you are dealing with a voltage that’s changing. Whenever a new high or low is detected, the value is updated. The relative mode compares a reading with the previous one. It enables you to compare the two readings.
Finally, the range refers to whether the device offers readings manually or automatically. If you want to lower the response time, use the manual range. However, if you aren’t sure of the voltage, use automatic ranging.
Another interesting feature is the safety rating with a CAT IV at 600v rating. Theoretically, the tool has an overload protection of about 8000v. You will also like the auto shut off as it will help save your battery life. Finally, there is the 9V battery included with your purchase.
Auto-ranging and can measure both AC and DC currents
A large display with a backlight
CAT IV at 600V safety rating
Who is it for?
The Thsinde tester will benefit a professional or an advanced DIYers.
- The device is well built and has a notch to hang it
- The durable insulating case which is also removable if you feel the tool is too bulky
- Features a backlight which makes it easier to take readings
- It’s a non-contact voltage detector
- It has proper fuses which can be replaced, unlike other affordable options which have soldered fuses
The manual will be of no help. You need a bit of experience with multimeters to make the most of this tool
10. Dr.meter VD-1
Flashlight – Often, you might be working in dark areas, say the basement or the attic, and the flashlight is useful.
Automatic shut off – Most electricians forget to turn off voltage detectors in the heat of the moment. Also, it might accidentally turn on when it is jostled in the toolbox. The automatic shut off will kick in after 5 or so minutes of inactivity to conserve your batteries.
The VD-1 is durable and convenient too. First, it can survive hits and bumps making it ideal for industrial settings, but also has a pocket clip that makes it easier to carry around. Also, you need to know whether your item is operational before you get down to using it. This tool achieves this with a quick flash of the tip the moment you turn it on.
It is a standard option being able to detect between 90 and 1000V. Though newer gadgets can use voltages much lower than this, it will still work for outlets and most cables. To show that there is voltage, there LED in the tip will flash, in unison with a beep. Finally, it has a CAT IV safety rating which is an indication that the components are premium.
Standard voltage tester
Handy LED light for working in dark environments
Auto power off
Who is it for?
Given its safety rating, the VD-1 is a professional tool. However, seeing as it only detects voltage, we recommend it for advanced DIYers.
- Automatic shut off saving you the agony of having to buy new batteries often
- A CAT IV 600v safety rating
- Durable and convenient
If you want to check for lower voltages, you need a dual range or a low tester
What to Consider when Purchasing a Voltage Tester
What do you want to test?
Before you acquire a voltage tester, ensure you know what you are going to use it for. For a basic test, that is, to only check the voltage, we recommend a non-contact tester. Basic millimeters can test the polarity and voltage. However, if you want to test for more, consider a multi-function tester that can check the resistance, current, continuity, etc.
Size and ease of use
Voltage testers are available in various sizes. Most non-contact testers have a pen-style so they can conveniently fit in your pocket and you can carry around. However, multi-function testers might need a toolkit although they have their slim versions. As for the ease of use, some multi-function testers have wire support to hold the tester when you are working with both hands. Others feature LCDs or built-in flashlights that are handy when you are working in dark room while some incorporate a data hold button to record readings.
Consider the safety features on a tester before procuring one. Safety entails more than the protection from electric current, a first-rate product should have features to protect if it’s dropped and protect it from an overload. However, the rule of thumb is that you should always turn off the power before any electrical work. As for the safest unit, consider non-contact testers as there is no direct contact with the wire or circuit. Some millimeters include rubber sleeves to protect them should they take a plunge.
How long will you’re your voltage tester serve you. You are looking for a tool that will serve you for several years.
Stay within your budget. However, as the functionalities in a voltage tester increase, so does the price.
Which is the best unit for both industrial and ordinary building installation?
Most professionals will use different tools to conduct the main tests. However, a multi-function voltage tester can conduct most tests in ordinary houses and industrial setups.
How do I know if the tester is functioning?
Voltage testers fail. They will depreciate over time and then stop working. Being able to identify if the tool is operational can save you time, and a number of inconveniences. Some non-contact options conduct self-tests that let you know if they are operational or not. For those that don’t, use good habits like using it on a known live wire to tell if it’s working or not.
How does a non-contact voltage tester work?
A non-contact device works by detecting electromagnetic fields in a conductor. Alternating current (AC) induces electromagnetic fields in a conductor, and a non-contact device will respond thanks to the field strength of the field and thus the higher the voltage, the stronger the field. It is for this reason that non-contact testers cannot be used to test DC current as it does not produce electromagnetic fields.
How do I maintain a multimeter?
First, do not connect to more than 1000V alternating current or 700V direct current. Also, do not arbitrarily replace the line.
A voltage tester is an indispensable tool. We repeat, indispensable. Any professional will confirm this and it should be the first tool you purchase. It helps you establish the voltage in a device, outlet, or cable helping you to proceed appropriately. Each of the gadgets here has different features, price points, and we are confident you will find an item that works for you. If you feel we have left out any important details or gadget, feel free to let us know in the comments below. You can also tell us what you thought of this buying guide, and do share.