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How to Check for Power at a 120 and 220 Volt Outlets

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3.9/5 - (22 votes)

Checking voltage at an outlet

Checking voltage at an outlet is very easy however you want to use the right tester and a good at that.

Digital is mainly what you’ll be using. If checking a 120-volt outlet just to see if you have power and if it’s wired correctly you will want to use a socket tester this type of tester will show you if you have power and if the wires were installed the correct way. If you find adjacent outlets are also wired incorrectly you may want to check the source in the panel. Meaning, if it’s wired wrong in the panel that the whole circuit will be wrong.

Non-Contact testers are good for maybe a quick reference to see if the line has power but can give you false readings. So use this type with caution. Non-Contact testers can even beep if you move it too fast against your own skin

Two Range Tester. These are good and again for quick reading. If you only have 120-volts only half will light up indicating just 120-volts. But if you have 220-volts both ends light up. This is very helpful if you’re testing wires for power and think you’re only going to have 120 volts and find out you’re on two hot leads and find yourself with 220-volts instead.  Two Range Tester

Multi-Meters These is by far the best way to test for power and can be used for many other projects. Yes, they can seem a bit more complicated over other testers but yet once you know the correct setting they will provide you a much better reading. The question is, do you need one. Here is a decent multimeter and easy on the pocket.

How to Check for Volts at a 120 and 220 Volt Outlets
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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Hi Dom, Thanks for all of your help. I’ve been using your videos for a bathroom/laundry remodel on my home.
    I’m having an issue and I wonder if you could help me trouble shoot. When testing the 220v circuit that was installed I can only get a reading (132v) on each hot lead (to both neutral & ground) and get a 0 read between my two hots. I’m not sure what this means. If there’s a short between the two wouldn’t that mess up both of the hot lines as well?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • Yeah something doesn’t seem right at all. Almost like you’re getting a false reading on the 132 volts. I would turn the breaker off and then back on again. I would also check for power at the breaker by removing the panel cover.

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