The 7 Best Voltage Testers
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in October of 2016. If you are a lineman for your county, a professional electrician, or you are simply planning to work in any environment where there may be dangerous live wires, make sure you always have one of these non-contact voltage testers on hand to warn you of any potentially harmful situations. We've ranked them here by sensitivity, accuracy and durability, as well as detection range. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 17, 2021:
There are a couple of options that I’ve gotten rid of, primarily the Klein models, and a couple of others that have recently come out with later models. Klein has released a whole series of newer testers including updated NCVT-2 and NCVT-3 models, with CAT IV ratings. Obviously, the NCVT-3P comes with a flashlight that the NCVT-2P lacks, but I’ve decided to replace the 2P with the NCVT-6, which uses a laser to help identify the exact distance to the voltage source. I’ve also added the Neoteck Professional Non-Contact as a low-end option, and the Bside X1as a high-end one.
January 25, 2020:
There’s no question about it – Klein Tools makes the best NCVT’s (Non-Contact Voltage Tester’s) on the market in terms of accuracy, function and durability – with the Klein Tools NCVT-3 standing out above the Klein Tools NCVT-2. Prior to around 2016, the pens from Fluke Networks – arguably the biggest name in inspection and troubleshooting tools – were also major rivals to Klein Tools pens. While they are undoubtedly still good, the major problem I have with the popular ones (like the 1AC and 2AC) is that their ranges aren’t comprehensive enough to compete with today’s industry standard – they offer models that either detect between 90-1000V OR 20-90V, but nothing from around 20V to beyond 240V. For home inspections, you need a tool to be able to detect voltages around 110V AC (in the US) and reasonably lower. With generic models offering comprehensive ranges, it’s hard to see why you’d need to carry around 2 separate Fluke pens, just to accommodate that need. They do have a more comprehensive model – the Fluke LVD2 - but I’ve decided not to include that here, because the indicator isn't good enough, and the blue LED to signal low voltage is a little misleading - not the right color at all.
At the same time, I didn’t want to saturate this list with lesser known brands – plus the more generic models I added like the Neoteck Orange NCV Pen and Tacklife NCVT had the best all-round features. A few reviews praise the Milwaukee Dual-Range 2203-20 as second only to Klein-series models, and while it’s a great option, I prefer the models that sport graduated indicators to give you a rough idea of the field strength, as long as these models are primarily as sensitive as the Milwuakee, of course (if they’re not then it really beats the purpose, regardless of whether they do use bar indicators).
At the same time, you don’t want to rely too heavily on strength indicators and attempt to translate them into numerical voltage readings. This goes back to the same reason that I didn’t include voltage readers here – a voltage tester is only meant to indicate the presence (or absence) of a voltage by detecting electrical fields. I wanted to stay true to the operational word here - ‘tester’ – by excluding any readers. This was hard, because many sophisticated multimeters come with add-on voltage testing capabilities too, but we already have a separate list for multimeters. I've also refrained from adding any of those clunkier models with fiddly sensitivity knobs - you want something plain and simple for detection (testing), OR you want a multimeter/voltage reader.