Updated on 19 October, 2021
An outlet tester, outlet protector, receptacle protector, or outlet tester is an inexpensive flexible metal device with three indicator lights and a 3-volt power outlet plug, used for quickly testing some kinds of improperly-installed electrical outlets. These testers come in a variety of styles and materials to suit the needs of every installation situation. Some are so handy that they can even be attached to a power strip outside the house or building for quick testing. You can either purchase the tester as a single unit, which may not include all three indicators, or you can buy individual indicators and plugs in various configurations.
An outlet tester lets you test three different kinds of electrical connections: three pronged, five pronged, and three-pronged. They are great for home and commercial application testing, where quick detection of faulty connections is critical. For example, outlet testers can check three different circuits in a washing machine, including the water feed, the drain field, and the air flow. This kind of tester is especially useful in factories, where electrical equipment is frequently used. The rapidity and ease of use make outlet testers an excellent choice for inspectors and maintenance personnel.
A ground fault tester is also an inexpensive electrical shock detector. Unlike an outlet tester that is designed to check three different circuits, a ground fault tester will test the electrical connection from the outside circuit to the inside circuit. This kind of tester is important in situations such as power outages caused by storms or lightning. The presence of a grounded connection guarantees protection against shock damage to both the man and woman who work around the electrical equipment.
There are many types of circuit breakers, including circuit breakers designed to protect hot water, gas, and electric appliances from damage in the event of an overload or short circuit. The presence of a ground wire in the circuit breaker protects the energizing supply from damage in the event of an overload, especially if there is not an open flame. Without an open flame, there is no risk of an electric shock. But, an outlet tester can prevent a fire by alerting a home owner or business owner that there is a potential problem with the electric connection and fire may be impending.
Many people assume that a common electrical shock can only be safely repaired with an outlet tester. In fact, any electric current in excess of 120 volts will cause an electrical shock. A good outlet tester can help protect against both excessive and dangerous voltage levels. Some outlets test their circuits for maximum continuous current; others may test the outlet itself to ensure it has sufficient power for normal usage.
One area where both an outlet tester and circuit tester are extremely helpful is in an apartment or condo setting. If you live in an apartment or condominium you are most likely required to keep your personal electronics out of the room where the circuit tester is installed. This could mean risking damage to the expensive electronics as well as injury to you or the other individuals living in the home. An outlet tester lets you know if the wires in the room where the circuit tester is installed are in a location that is dangerous for both you and those sharing the unit.
You can even use an outlet tester to protect yourself from overuse of wiring. Overuse of wiring, also called overloaded wiring, can actually cause some electrical fires. It's not unusual for an individual to spend hours fixing the wiring in a complex system of electronics. However, if you test these wires frequently using a tester you can make sure the system is being properly used and avoid problems before they become serious.
A simple test switches can provide you with the peace of mind that your wiring isn't being abused. By testing the wire connections you can see that the current isn't being conducted through any live circuits. You can also identify weaker connections so that you aren't passing live voltage through them. This is a great way to save money on expensive and harmful electricity bills.