Who needs a voltage tester?
Voltage testers are common place at home and in the work environment. They can detecting the flow of electric as well as checking for grounding or shorts. Though this type of equipment has many other uses and you should always buy the best voltage tester that you can afford. You can't mess about with electric!
A digital multimeter will also do the same job, but they are both more expensive and a lot more complicated to use. You really need to know what you are doing when using one of them. The voltage tester is much more simple and is set up so that it protects you from an electrical shock that may result while you are testing.
Types of Voltage Tester
The three main types of voltage testers are: two-contact, one-contact, and non-contact.
1. Two-Contact Voltage Meters
This looks a bit like a screwdriver. There is a single lead coming out from the back of the tester and a lamp is connected between that and the tip .
The lead is then connected to ground while the tip can be placed anywhere along the circuit to complete the test. This lets you check for the presence or absence of voltage at any given point. It also allows for faults to be detected and by moving along then you can check where the actual fault is located
The only downside to two-contact voltage meters is that you have to be in touch really with a fully live circuit. This may possibly cause electrical shocks or you can inadvertently create short circuits. These testers are pretty cheap but are not suitable for high energy faults.
2. One-Contact Voltage Testers
These, for me anyway, are much handier that the two-contact tester above. Simply put, this tester contacts at just one point of the circuit you are testing. Then it relies totally on the stray capacitance and the current that passes through your body.
There are many different shapes and sizes but most of these testers look very like screwdrivers. The end of the tester is simply touched to the conductor which can be any part that you think should be live. The light then comes on which requires a very minimal current to light. This is why it can comfortably use your body’s capacitance to complete the circuit.
The downside of these type of voltage testers is that they are leightweight and don't offer much protection against getting a shock. In testers where the shaft is not totally insulated, then there is a risk of you being shocked. On top of that there is no protection at all to prevent short circuiting faults.
The lamp fails to light at all when the current is under its strike voltage so detecting some leakage conditions becomes virtually impossible.
3. Non-Contact Voltage Testers
With this type of tester there is no contact with the circuit being tested. They work on the capacitive current and will detect even the most minor changes in electric field near any items that are AC energized.
You just have to touch the top of the handle and this will ground the tester. If the test is live, then the indicator LED will light up or some of them will buzz. There is a small battery inside that powers the the lamp and there is no current that flows through the user’s body.
These are no use at all for DC voltage because it doesn’t pass through capacitors. Non-contact testers that sense electric fields cannot be used to detect voltage inside armored or shielded cables.
Kewtech KT1780 2-Pole Voltage Detector
94% buyer satisfaction based on 300+ online buyer reviews
This is one of the best 2-Pole Voltage Detector & Continuity Tester that you can get
- Measures AC and DC voltages up to 690, witjh LED indication of the voltage level
- Does continuity, single pole phase, polarity and phase rotation testing as well as a self diagnostic test
- Comes with very fine tips that fit into rtight terminals such as RCBOs
- You will need to buy batteries for this model
- Everything you wil ever need in a tester like this
I can safetly say that this is the best two pole tester that you can buy at a reasonable price. Its simple, easy to use and is specifically designed for the UK market. Look no further if this is the type of tester you need.
Martindale VT12 Two Pole Voltage and Continuity Tester
90% buyer satisfaction based on 800+ online buyer reviews
As you can see, this VT12 is a two pole Voltage Indicator and Continuity tester with automatic AC/DC detection up to 690V and continuity testing with optical and acoustic indication up to 500k Ohm
- LED voltage indicator
- Measures 12 V to 690 V
- Includes continuity test
- Probe caps for GS38 compliance
- Comes with batteries and two cap covers
- AC/DC 2 pole voltage indication
- Built for safety (CAT III 600V, CAT VI 300V)
This is an excellent buy and the price is very reasonable for what you are getting. It's extremely versatile and will do the vast majortity of any testing jobs.
Reenwee Non-Contact Voltage Tester
90% buyer satisfaction based on 500+ online buyer reviews
This is the best non contact tester model that we could find. Its great value, hundreds of them have been sold and all the customers loved it.
- Comes with a AC Voltage Tester and RCD Socket Tester
- Has a dual range 12-1000V AC / 48-1000V AC for low-voltage or standard voltage
- The screen LCD is a great size and is very easy to read
- As explained ablove this works my measuring the EM field intensity without touching any wires.
This type of unit is very easy to use and would be ideal for a beginner or somebody who just has the odd job to do on occassion. Its pretty cheap and is a good addition to any home tool box. Also they are very safe to use.
KAIWEETS HT100 Voltage Tester
88% buyer satisfaction based on 6,000+ online buyer reviews
This is a Non-Contact Electrical Tester thats in the pen style. Its cheap and cheerful but will do a job for you.
- Multiple alarms through sound and light
- Beeps fast the higher the voltage
- Wire detector can automatically detect the live or neutral wire
- Detects standard and low voltage (12-1000V AC / 48-1000V AC)
- IEC rated CAT III 1000V CAT IV 600V and is double insulated
- Bright LED flashlight for work in dim areas
I really like this style of tester as it's compact and will easily clip on or fit in your pocket. It is a cheap and cheerful tester that works really well and everyone should have one of these in their tool box for under £10.
NOYAFA Advanced Cable Tester
88% buyer satisfaction based on 550+ online buyer reviews
This model is a good bit more advanced compared to the much cheaper testers above. Its well worth the extra money but only if you are going to use it regularly.
- Will test AC filter mode/ Analog mode/ PoE mode
- Can detect AC voltage from (50V-1000V)
- Measure cable length accurately , the range is 200m
- PoE testing : identify which pins are providing power and detect how much voltag
- Needs batteries
This is really an all rounder for an electrician or experienced user. Not many of us need PoE testing so you would only be spending the extra on this model if it was something that you use everyday.
Voltage Tester UT18C Waterproof Digital Voltage Meter
88% buyer satisfaction based on 400+ online buyer reviews
Again, this is not a cheap choice as it is on the professional level. Really its everything you might ever need for this type of testing and I particularly liked this model.
- Test: operating voltage: 100 V ~ 690 V
- Frequency 50 Hz ~ 60 Hz
- Single lead (L2) v frequency: 50 Hz ~ 400 Hz
- Continuity test: resistance: 0 ~ 100 kΩ
- RCD test beeper and LED light indicator
This is a great tester that will do nearly any job. As I said its professional level, fully waterproof and built to last. I havent reviewed any other tester In this style as this is the best all round value that you will be able to find.
Hopefully this article has helped you to understand the prices of electrical testers in the United Kingdom. The good news is that you have plenty of choices from a range of brands. There is also a wide variation in price points from as low as £10 and going all the way up to £50. We also do a good article on stud finders that can also detect wiring in your wall, definitely a good tool to have in your collection.
If you do a lot of testing or need something a bit more sophisticated then have a look at our article on the best multimeter UK.