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TESTER:
GOOD FOR LIMITATIONS HOW TO USE
Electrostatic wand

=volt stick =noncontact voltage tester
Indicates presence of hot without direct contact Not reliable close to earth, can't distinguish within bundle of wires, sensitive to a range of volts and to inconsequential induced voltage Hold wand near wire or cable at different angles till light or indicator stays on
Simplest
neon tester

Video
Hot presence pinpointed, relative brightness for different voltages Good reading doesn't mean load will run Touch one prong to hot, the other to yourself or something grounded
Three-prong receptacle tester

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Quick, usually reliable for hot presence and (if there is a ground) neutral presence; some can also test GFIs Depends on ground or neutral presence to work, descriptions can mislead, good reading doesn't always mean load will run, does not tell positively that hotness is absent Plug into three-hole receptacle, read about resulting lights from list
Voltmeter Volt presence and level Good reading doesn't mean load will run Touch one prong to each thing to tell voltage difference between them
Ohmmeter Continuity and resistance level Does not tell what resistance is under load (e.g., light bulbs, motors) With circuit off, touch one prong to each thing for resistance between them
Clamping ammeter Checks overloads and shorts in progress, whether something is running -- Clamp around single wire, not whole cable
Electromagnetic circuit finder =current tracer Can pinpoint which breaker controls a live circuit. Occasionally inaccurate; only expensive ones can trace wires in walls and underground Transmitter plugs into receptacle; receiver indicates breaker at panel
"Wiggins" =solenoid voltage tester Some ac and dc voltage levels, checks circuit operation under load, presence of good ground, can roughly test GFI Does not tell positively whether hotness is present Touch one prong to each thing to tell voltage difference between them
Light bulb in socket with two wire leads

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Checks 120-volt circuit operation under load, presence of good ground, can roughly test GFI Does not tell positively whether hotness is present Touch one wire to hot, one to neutral or ground
Mechanic's Stethoscope Hears arcing location -- Touch to nearby non-metal or grounded part; listen
Continuity tester Tells general continuity Cannot distinguish between a short and many normal connected loads With circuit off, touch one prong to each thing for continuity (or not) between them
Multimeter Combines voltmeter and ohmmeter -- see ohmmeter and voltmeter
© 2006-2012 Larry Dimock. Also see Which and How