Completing electrical wiring projects without checking the correctness can likely cause a disaster. Regardless of how good you are, you can make mistakes. These can lead to damage to electrical equipment connected to these outlets. In severe cases, faulty electrical wiring can cause fire and death of people.
Outlet testers are used by DIYers, electricians, and home inspectors to check the safety of a home electrical system. Having one is the first step to ensuring a safe home. But what are outlet testers?
An electrical outlet tester is a device plugged into a receptacle or electrical socket to check if it is wired correctly. With it, you can detect basic electrical faults such as incorrect grounding. Outlet testers have alternative names, which include the following:
- Socket checkers
- Plug-in mains testers
- Plug-in socket testers
- Receptacle testers
- Mains polarity tester plugs
- Mains socket testers
- Mains testers
- Electrical outlet testers
Electrical outlet testers are of different types, depending on your area. The most common types are A and B for testing USA power sockets and type G for testing UK power outlets. They have different voltage and current ratings. One difference is that the US type is usually rated 100-127V, while the UK type is rated for testing 220-240V AC.
Outlet testers come in different shapes, sizes, and features, making it challenging to pick the right one. This post focuses on reviewing the best outlet testers and a buying guide to help you make the best decision. Let’s dive right in for details!
Outlet Tester Comparison Chart
Top 10 Best Outlet Tester Reviews in 2023
This section reviews the 10 best outlet testers for DIY or professional use. We will highlight the main features, pros, and cons to set them apart and help you make decisions.
1. Sperry Instruments GFI6302 GFCI Outlet Tester [Best Overall]
Sperry Instruments GFI6302 is one of the most popular outlet testers among electricians, technicians, inspectors, and homeowners. This device is best for testing standard 3-phase North American electrical receptacles and has excellent features.
The Sperry Instruments GFI6302 is rated 120V AC and has a safety rating of CAT III 300VAC. It also features an ABS rubberized casing to ensure safety at any job site. You can also choose it as one of the most durable electrical outlet testers. This device can withstand a 10-foot fall and 250 lbs. crush force.
This instrument has an easy-to-understand legend and 7 indicators for identifying common wiring conditions. It activates colored neon lights corresponding to the wiring condition detected.
Choose Sperry Instruments GFI6302 if you need a compact, ergonomically designed, and comfortable-to-use GFCI outlet tester.
- Ruggedly built for durability
- Easy to use for testing most common wiring conditions
- Safe to use – reinforced insulation and CAT III 300V AC rating
- Instant receptacle wiring identification
- Relatively affordable
- Not for testing type G UK standard electrical outlets
- Indicator lights can sometimes blend together
2. Aicevoos D2S Receptacle Tester
The second on the list of the best outlet testers is the Aicevoos D2S. This device is ideal for professional electrical outlets and GFCI testing. However, you spend more to get it than the first option. It comes second because of its quick response when detecting different wiring conditions and problems.
Aicevoos D2S receptacle tester is a plug-and-play device that you insert into a standard North American electrical outlet. Once connected to the receptacle, its LCD screen instantly shows the wiring status. You can easily understand these readings without reference.
Suppose you use the Aicevoos D2S Receptacle Tester for the GFCI test function. In that case, it will trip and de-energize the circuit on time. You can do this by pressing a leakage protection detection button. But if the protection switch fails to trip, it needs maintenance.
You can use Aicevoos D2S to detect electrical wiring faults, including the following:
- Open ground
- Open neutral
- Open hot
- Double open
- Reverse hot-ground
- Reverse hot-neutral wiring faults
- Safe and easy to use
- Reliable and durable
- Wide range of working voltage, from 90-250V AC at 45-65Hz.
- Compact and lightweight
- Large LCD display
- Relatively expensive
- Only for testing standard North American outlets
3. Gardner Bender GRT-3500 Outlet Receptacle Tester
Gardner Bender GRT-3500 is the cost-effective option for a receptacle tester. It works with the North American standard 110-125V AC 60Hz 3-phase socket outlet.
It features three lamps: 2 neon and 1 red to indicate the status of an electrical power outlet. Gardner Bender GRT-3500 has a dual status chart on the top and bottom for viewing multiple positions.
Gardner Bender GRT-3500 can indicate up to 5 different wiring errors when used to test an electrical receptacle. It accurately reveals open ground, open neutral, open hot, hot-ground reverse, and hot-neutral reverse.
This outlet tester has a ruggedly built and ergonomic housing that can withstand a 10-foot drop. It is also compact and easy to use. You only need to plug it into the receptacle to analyze the circuit for the mentioned errors.
- Very affordable
- Easy to use
- Ergonomic design
- Compact and lightweight
- Can detect up to 5 most common electrical receptacle errors
- Limited features compared to high-end outlet testers.
4. Amprobe ST-101B Socket Tester
Amprobe ST-101B is another reliable electrical outlet tester for checking and confirming the wiring of receptacles in residential settings. By design, the device can test 110-125V AC 3-wire outlets. It features 3 prong plugs to get into a North American standard 3-wire electrical sockets.
Amprobe is a well-known brand for building rugged and reliable test and measuring tools, and they proved it in their Amprobe ST-101B outlet tester. This device features three incandescent lamps: 2 amber and 1 red, showing different wiring conditions.
The light color combination helps to reveal open-ground, open neutral, open hot, hot-ground reverse, and hot-neutral reverse wiring faults. A legend is printed on the casing to help you quickly interpret the light indications to know the error in the tested outlet.
- Easy to use
- Relatively affordable
- Safe to use
- Reliable and durable
- No GFCI testing capability
- Indicator lights could have been better
5. Taiss GFCI Outlet Tester
This GFCI Outlet Tester is widely used in different applications, including electric maintenance testing, office socket testing, power strip testing, and wall receptacle testing. It is ideal for use in schools, laboratories, factories, and social fields.
This GFCI Outlet Tester boasts a wide voltage testing range. It is a versatile tool that can measure voltages in electrical receptacles with 48-250V AC 45-65Hz with an accuracy of ± (2.0%+2). You can also use it to perform GFCI testing with a current greater than 5mA and at a GFCI voltage of 110V ±20V AC. This device has the North American standard 3-prong plugs for testing 3-wire outlets.
The LED display of this device is one of the best. It produces light patterns corresponding to different circuit conditions. You can use it in the dark or under strong sunlight, and you will still clearly see the light indicators. This GFCI produces up to 7 different light patterns to represent all possible electrical wiring faults.
As the name suggests, Tails GFCI can test GFCI devices by creating ground fault conditions to confirm the operation of the protective device. You can use it on electrical receptacles connected in parallel to the GFCI outlets, such as those in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Tests all possible electrical receptacle wiring faults
- Has GFCI test function
- Bright LED indicators for use under any lighting condition
- Wide voltage measurement range
- Compact and lightweight
- Reliable and durable – made of ABS casing
- Safe to use – CAT II 300V rating
- User manual could have been clearer
6. Klein Tools RT210 Outlet Tester
Klein Tools RT210 is a receptacle tester for checking the most commonly encountered electrical wiring faults. The tester features a standard legend chart to help identify different wiring conditions indicated by the lights. Depending on the pattern illuminated, you can quickly know if the tested GFCI receptacle has a wiring fault. It can test open ground, open hot, open neutral, hot-ground reverse, or reverse polarity.
Klein Tools RT210 works with North American standard 110-125V AC 50/60Hz 3-wire outlets like all electrical outlet testers on this list. It is equipped with 3 prong plugs to quickly get into the receptacle.
- Easy-to-read indicators
- Ruggedly built to withstand a 6.6-foot drop
- Very accurate and consistent
- Not as durable when frequently used
- The GFCI trip button is overly sensitive and can be accidentally tripped when removing it from the receptacle.
7. IDEAL INDUSTRIES 61-501 Receptacle Tester
IDEAL INDUSTRIES 61-501 outlet tester is very accurate and can be used on 120V AC circuits. It will show electrical faults in a 3-wire receptacle wiring, including open ground, reverse polarity, open hot, open neutral, and hot-ground reversed.
IDEAL INDUSTRIES 61-501 is easy to use and read the indicators. It, however, requires you to remove or unplug all electrical devices and equipment to ensure the accuracy of the readings. The results are shown by three different lights you compared to a legend chart on the casing for interpretation.
You can also use IDEAL INDUSTRIES 61-501 for GFCI testing. You only need to plug this device into a North American standard 3-wire GFCI receptacle and press the activation button to trip the GFCI. You will get a clear indication to tell you whether the GFCI is tripped or not.
IDEAL INDUSTRIES 61-501 wall socket tester is built to the best quality. It will withstand heavy professional use in different working conditions.
- Easy to use
- GFCI test function
- Shows most common electrical receptacle wiring faults
- High-quality and durable
- Not as compact as other outlet testers
8. KAIWEETS Outlet Tester
KAIWEETS outlet tester is another good option if you have the budget. It is compact, lightweight, and feature-packed, just like many outlet testers.
This device features a GFCI function, allowing you to test GFCI receptacles. It will help you determine the effectiveness of the protective device, but be careful when using this function on normal wall electrical outlets. It can cause the wiring system to trip.
The KAIWEETS outlet tester works with standard 3-wire and GFCI-protected 120V AC outlets. It can accurately detect open ground, open neutral, hot-ground reverse, hot-neutral reverse, and open ground. Its red LED indicators represent any of these wiring faults if detected, and it can detect up to 6 different receptacle wiring conditions. It also features an easy-to-understand chart to help you interpret the results.
The unique feature of this electrical outlet tester is its bright LCD screen. It displays socket voltages, leakage voltages, and current. And if there is a wiring fault, the display turns orange.
KAIWEETS receptacle tester is also safe to use. The device is rated CAT III 300V and sell-insulated to conform with these safety standards.
- Compact and lightweight
- LCD screen for displaying socket voltage and leakage voltages
- GFCI test functionality
- Easy-to-read LED circuit condition indicators
- Tests up to 6 receptacle wiring faults
- Voltage reading is not very accurate
9. Extech ET10 GFCI Receptacle Tester
Extech Instruments has decades in the industry manufacturing test and measurement tools built for professionals and DIYers. They make a statement with the Extech ET10 GFCI Receptacle Tester for testing GFCI circuits.
You can use Extech ET10 GFCI to check faulty wiring in a 3-wire. It will accurately indicate if there is a fault in the circuit. Like the previous devices, this one can test open ground, open neutral, open hot, hot-ground reverse, and hot-neutral reverse.
Extech ET10 GFCI Receptacle Tester features a standard North American 3-prong plug and lights to indicate different circuit conditions. A look-up chart is also printed on the casing to help you interpret the light indicators when using this circuit.
- Doubles as GFCI and receptacle tester
- Easy to use
- Relatively affordable
- Detects up to 5 different wiring faults
- The design could have been better.
10. Southwire 40022S GFCI Receptacle Tester
Southwire 40022S GFCI Receptacle Tester is the last on the list of the best outlet testers reviewed on this page and is the second-most affordable option. Like all other products, Southwire 40022S works with North American standard 120V AC 3-wire electrical receptacles. It is an ideal outlet tester for DIYers, electricians, and home inspectors.
Southwire 40022S GFCI Receptacle Tester features a two-sided legend to allow you to accurately read the test results. This is paired with indicator lights to allow the device to test up to 7 electrical wiring faults. You can use it to test open ground, open neutral, open hot, hot-ground reverse, hot-neutral reverse, and GFCI.
The device is compact and easily portable. Its hard case is reinforced with pins that can withstand a 6-foot drop.
- Compact size for storage and portability
- Tests up to 7 electrical wiring faults, including GFCI.
- Strong case for durability
- Indicators could have been brighter
Best Outlet Tester Buying Guide
The market is flooded with many electrical receptacle testers with varying features and functions. To buy a suitable device, you should know a few things to consider or check before deciding on the product. This guide offers you all factors to look for in these outlet testers.
1. Outlet Tester Type
Outlet testers come in different types for various purposes. The first category is the simple socket tester, often used for DIY projects to detect other power outlet wiring faults.
The next category is an advanced socket tester. This type has more functions, including displaying fault loop impedance readings, which is the amount of resistance a faulty has to overcome to flow through the earth wire. There is also a professional socket tester for conducting professional-grade outlet tests, such as advanced earth loop impedance.
The type you choose depends on the intended use. If you want an outlet tester for professional applications, you go for it.
2. Amperage and Voltage Ratings
Electrical outlet testers have voltage and current ratings. These parameters indicate the safe limits these devices are to be used. Typical current values are 11A, 32A, and 63A and voltages are 110V, 230V, 240V, and 400V. Once again, what you choose depends on your country or region.
110V AC is a standard household outlet voltage in North America, and 230/240V is standard in the UK for single-phase circuits. If you have a 3-phase system, the outlet voltage would be about 400V AC, but these are for industrial use.
Buy an outlet tester with the correct voltage, current, and safety ratings accordingly. It ensures the safety, reliability, and longevity of the device.
An outlet tester will only be helpful when you can interpret the results or indications. Most use LED or incandescent lamps to show different circuit conditions, but you can find some with LCD screens. If you cannot afford power outlet testers with an LCD display, consider those with LED indicators. These are visible in different lighting conditions, unlike incandescent lamps, which may be difficult to see under bright sunlight.
4. Overall Size and Built Quality
Most outlet testers are compact and highly portable, but there are outliers. Consider the one you can easily fit inside the toolbox. However, don’t compromise on the quality.
Go for an ergonomically-designed device with an ABS plastic casing. The recommended ones should withstand a 10-foot drop and a considerable impact force. This ensures the durability of the receptacle tester you buy.
5. Ease of Use
Fortunately, most electrical power outlet testers are plug-and-play devices. You only insert them into the wall socket, and they are ready to go. But some testers have additional functions and features, such as GFCI testing. Ensure it is easy to activate these functions and that navigating through the menu is a breeze.
Electrical power outlet testers are affordable devices costing just a few bucks. Most are less than $20, but you can get high-end ones sold above this value. Your choice will depend on the budget and functions or features you want, bearing in mind that feature-rich outlet testers are generally more expensive.
Does a GFCI receptacle tester work on a regular outlet?
Yes. You can test a regular outlet with a GFCI tester, but it will not trip the circuit as a GFCI outlet would. A normal receptacle does not protect the circuit against any fault. Doing so can also trip your house wiring system.
Can a GFCI tester work on an ungrounded outlet?
No. a GFCI tester works on a 3-wire receptacle, which includes ground, hot, and neutral wires. This device needs to shunt some current to the ground wire during the GFCI test. Unfortunately, that wire is not available in an ungrounded outlet.
Is it legal to install a GFCI on 2 wire systems?
Yes. 2-slot outlets are legal and generally safe. However, additional protection is required in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, which is where a GFCI comes in.
How many wires does a GFCI outlet have?
A GFCI outlet has two sets of wires labeled as line and load. The line wire carries the incoming electrical power, and the load wire distributes the power to outlets down the circuit.
How To Use Outlet Tester
Using outlet testers is straightforward. These devices are plug-and-play and do not require any technical skills to use. Follow the steps outlined below:
- Switch off the socket
- Remove any other plugs or devices from the mains socket
- Insert your socket tester
- Switch the power back on and await the results
The indicators for different wiring conditions vary depending on the model you use. Fortunately, most have a look-up legend to help you interpret the results.
Outlet Tester Vs. GFCI Tester
An outlet tester and a GFCI tester are two closely related devices. As the name suggests, an outlet tester tests electrical receptacles for different wiring conditions and possible faults. On the other hand, a GFCI tester checks the functionality of the circuit protective device.
Most GFCI, if not all, can be used as receptacle testers. But an outlet tester cannot be used as a GFCI tester. A GFCI tester has a button to activate this function, which may be the only difference between the two devices.
Electrical power outlet testers are essential devices for DIY or professional use. This review of the best outlet testers is to give an insight and help you decide on what to buy. However, we have the following recommendations for you:
The Sperry Instruments GFI6302 is the best outlet tester, offering the best value for money. It is ruggedly built for durability, can test all possible wiring conditions, and is safe to use. Using this device is also straightforward.
The Aicevoos D2S outlet tester is also recommended if you have the budget and want visual indication. Its large LCD display and wide voltage range make it one of the best outlet testers. It is also compact and has all the features.
Lastly, we recommend Gardner Bender GRT-3500 outlet tester if you are on a tight budget. Despite the affordability, this device is still a worthy choice. It is ergonomically designed, easy to use, compact, and can test receptacles for the 5 most common wiring faults.
You can also use our buying guide to choose any other outlet tester, whether from the list or not. It will help you make an information-based decision.