I'm in the process of familiarizing myself with some tools for electrical projects as I work my way through a number of renovations on my house. At the moment, I'm trying to identify a neutral wire in the panel for an existing circuit that needs to be upgraded to AFCI protection as part of a room's change of use (bedroom-to-laundry conversion) and thought that I would try to do so with a tone generator.

I just purchased a Klein VDV500-063 and immediately find myself confused when putting it to use. The instructions say that it will check for continuity before generating a tone and, to give this an initial test, I picked a recently added (known good) circuit that serves a single receptacle and turned of its breaker. Next, I removed the receptacle and then probed the neutral and ground wires with my multimeter to confirm continuity (and resistance reading of about 1Ω). Next, to the same neutral and ground wires, I hooked up the tone generator only to see its continuity indicator switch to red. However, out of curiosity, when I hook the tone generator up to the hot and ground wires, I find that it reports continuity (even while the multimeter does not).

Am I missing something obvious or going about this the wrong way?

Many thanks in advance for thoughts, recommendations.

  • It seems odd to me also, so I would suggest rereading the instructions. I have not used tone generators, so do not know if red means good or bad for use.
    – crip659
    Mar 9 at 20:00
  • 1
    On these Klein tone generators, red indicates a short.
    – Chris
    Mar 9 at 20:06
  • Your question appears inconsistent in that you change from Neutral and Ground to Hot and Ground can you edit to clarify whether that's a mistake in writing or a change you actually made for some reason?
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 9 at 20:08
  • @Ecnerwal, I did so just as a test to see how the toner would respond (and edited my post to hopefully clarify this).
    – Chris
    Mar 9 at 20:18
  • There should NOT be continuity between Hot and Ground. The continuity is measured on one wire only not between two wires.
    – Traveler
    Mar 9 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


Going with my best attempt at reading between the lines of what you said, and what probably showed based on all of what you said:

So when you say that the toner indicates continuity between hot and ground, do you mean it shows green?

A short (red light at "continuity") is continuity. Same thing.

The indicator reads green for "pass" if paired wires are NOT shorted.

They can be toned if not shorted. Not shorted means no continuity...recall that a toner is primarily for tracing wires, so "green means go for tracing" not "green means continuity somehow magically different from shorted" in this case. The tone signal gets killed and is hard to pick up if the paired wires are shorted, so the device checks for a short, and if not shorted, shows green for "toner should work."

Green indicates "lack of continuity" which is the same thing as "not shorted."

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