This is one of the easiest tools to use. Simply touch a cord or insert the tip into an outlet. The tip of the detector will light up if power is present, while some models also have an audible alarm as a secondary indicator. These are very safe and useful tools to address any home electrical project.
Replacing or testing a switch or receptacle: I’ve been guilty of using a small appliance or portable fan as my power indicator to confirm that I’ve turned off the appropriate power breaker. Not 100% safe. These voltage detectors have a tip that fits inside the receptacle to properly detect power and are 100% safe.
Open ended wires: If you ever locate or discover open-ended wires, you want to know if power is present before addressing.
Power strip troubleshooting: A power strip may have one or more outlets that are not working. You can test if the power strip itself is receiving power or an individual outlet is not transferring power.
Broken wire: Go along a cord or wire path and see where the power is disrupted. When testing power cords keep in mind that the internal wires are wound together in a spiral. You may have to move the detector around or along the cord to find the live internal wire. Also, non-contact voltage detectors do have sensitivity variations between brands and models.
Terms and Descriptions
Voltage Rating: Depending on the voltage range you want to detect, be sure to choose a detector or possibly multiple detectors that suit your needs. Some voltage detector models come with dual-range, so you can detect low and high voltage.
A typical single household circuit ranges from 110-240 VAC. The difference between a 600 or 1000 VAC detector will most likely not be an issue for homeowners. The high ratings are for professionals that want to read full voltage coming into circuit panels, etc. Again not something typical of a homeowner that is not experienced, trained, or properly licensed to work with.
Low voltage wires, e.g. thermostat or doorbell, are typically rated for 24 VAC and lower.
Automotive electrical systems range from 12-16 VDC.
CAT III: Refers to measurements on hard-wired equipment in fixed installations, distribution boards, and circuit breakers. Other examples are wiring, including cables, bus bars, junction boxes, switches, and socket outlets in the fixed installation.
CAT IV: Rated test instruments are designed for testing on the primary supply source, which also includes 120V or 240V overhead or underground lines that power detached buildings or underground lines that power well pumps. The CAT IV rating covers the highest and most dangerous level of transient over-voltage.
All non-contact voltage detectors have an LED indicator light and replaceable batteries.
Some models come equipped with an audible alarm as well, which may have a silence option.
|Extech DV40 + IR Thermometer||50 – 1000VAC||CAT III – 1000V||✓||3 x LR44|
|Extech 40130||100 – 600VAC||CAT III – 600V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Extech DV20||100 – 600VAC||CAT III – 600V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Extech DV24||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Extech DV25 Dual-Range||24 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Extech DV26||100 – 1000VAC||CAT III – 1000VAC,|
CAT IV – 600VAC
|✓||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Extech DV30 Adjustable Sensitivity||12 – 600VAC||CAT III – 600V||✓||4 x LR44|
|Extech DVA30 + Current||12 – 600VAC,|
200mA to 1000A
|CAT III – 600V||✓||4 x LR44|
|Fluke 2AC VoltAlert™||90 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||2 x AAA|
|Fluke 1AC-II A1 VoltAlert™||90 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Fluke 1AC II A2 VoltAlert™||90 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Fluke 1LAC II A VoltAlertT™||20 – 90VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Fluke 1AC II E1 VoltAlertT™||200 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Fluke LVD2 Volt Light – Dual Sensitivity||90 – 600VAC||CAT IV – 600V||✓||✓||1 x AAA|
|GreenLee GT-12A||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|GreenLee TR-12A||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|GreenLee GT-16 Adjustable||5 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||1 x AAA|
|Klein NCVT-1||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Klein NCVT-2||12 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Klein NCVT-3 w/ LED Bar Graph||12 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Milwaukee 2202-20||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Milwaukee 2200-20||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Milwaukee 2203-20 Dual-Range||10 – 49VAC,|
50 – 1000VAC
|CAT IV – 1000V||✓||✓||2 x AAA|
|Santronics Ultimate AC||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||✓||2 x AAA|
|Santronics AC||50 – 1000VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||2 x AAA|
|Santronics Low AC||24 – 90VAC||CAT IV – 1000V||2 x AAA|
|Santronics DC||6 – 50VDC||N/A||✓|
|Sperry VD6504||50 – 1000VAC||CAT III – 1000V,|
CAT IV – 600V
|✓||✓||1 x AAA|
|Sperry VD6505 – Adjustable||12 – 1000VAC||CAT III – 1000V,|
CAT IV – 600V
|✓||✓||1 x AAA|
Please view all the brands and models we put together in the buying guide to learn the features and what may work best for your needs. We personally tested and compared a few brands, including: Milwaukee, Klein, Santronics, Fluke, and there were notable differences.
- Each varied on the audible sound levels. I would like to see manufacturers list this in their specs as it is important to some) and frequency of the beep, which could get annoying or welcomed, depending on the person.
- Some models have no work light, while the Milwaukee units have a very bright light.
- Static electricity is read by all the units, however will only causes flashes of light and single chirps instead of steady light and steady audible alarms for true voltage. The Santronics is the only brand without an audible off switch, but doesn’t create an audible sound for static electricity, which is a nice feature.
- We found brands like Milwaukee, Klein, and Fluke are very sensitive. The Santronics had to be much closer, if not touching a wire that was open or has sheathing, before the indicators would activate. Though all brands and models tested had to make contact with the exterior of a cord before detecting voltage.
Note: A response from the Santronic said, “Our voltage testers are manufactured, printed, and packaged in the US.”