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Relatively stupid smart question, voltage detector


willpope
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I'M hoping someone can give me the definitive answer on this question...I use a pocket voltage detector going through my inspections..and on roughly half of the outlets and switches I inspect, I get a 'hot' read on the entire outlet or switch...and then the other half have no reading. I'm guessing this is a grounding (no ground) situation? or is this 'phantom' power, a leak of some kind? Why is that it literally occurs on about half of the outlets and switches in the houses in my neighborhood/area of bozeman, montana?

I get the same read by touching an electrical lamp cord, etc. so I'm assuming this isn't evidence of a dangerous situation, but what's irritating about that is that you don't really know when something IS dangerous...it's all a little too amorphous for me.

I have a design to solder a 15000 0hm resistor onto a lamp cord to ferret out phantom power. And I will. But I'm hoping some great soul will give me the lowdown on this so I can put my clients at ease when my voltage detector keeps going off like the fourth of july...

Thanks in Advance,

Will Pope

Bozeman, Montana

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Originally posted by willpope

[?]icon_speech_ugh.gif

I'M hoping someone can give me the definitive answer on this question...I use a pocket voltage detector going through my inspections..and on roughly half of the outlets and switches I inspect, I get a 'hot' read on the entire outlet or switch...and then the other half have no reading. I'm guessing this is a grounding (no ground) situation? or is this 'phantom' power, a leak of some kind? Why is that it literally occurs on about half of the outlets and switches in the houses in my neighborhood/area of bozeman, montana?

It doesn't really mean anything. Those things are notoriously inaccurate. I generally don't trust them unless I've verified what they tell me with a more reliable device.

I get the same read by touching an electrical lamp cord, etc. so I'm assuming this isn't evidence of a dangerous situation, but what's irritating about that is that you don't really know when something IS dangerous...it's all a little too amorphous for me.

That's why I'd never use them like that.

I have a design to solder a 15000 0hm resistor onto a lamp cord to ferret out phantom power. And I will. But I'm hoping some great soul will give me the lowdown on this so I can put my clients at ease when my voltage detector keeps going off like the fourth of july...

Thanks in Advance,

Will Pope

Bozeman, Montana

I'm not sure what the lampcord with a resistor on it is supposed to do. Don't you have multimeters in Bozeman?

The best lowdown I can give you is to leave the proximity detector in your bag 95% of the time and to use a more reliable tool instead.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by msteger

Actually, aren't they detecting an uncancelled electric field?

From my limited understanding of how these suckers work, yes, they're detecting the electric field, not the magnetic field. The magnetic field is only present when current is flowing through the wires.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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