I use this simple plug device to detect any ground/neutral problems in outlets and if they're properly installed.

enter image description here

What can I use on open wires in an electrical receptacle to emulate the same test?

  • take a receptacle and wire it in temporarily Mar 10, 2016 at 15:05
  • that is labor consuming
    – amphibient
    Mar 10, 2016 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


You can use the tester below. If you touch one probe to the hot and the other to neutral or ground and the bulb should light.

If hot-to-ground lights but not hot-to-neutral the neutral is open. Vice versa for open ground. If you get nothing lighting either both neutral and ground are open or there's no power.

If hot-to-neutral and neutral-to-ground light, hot and neutral are reversed.

If neutral-to-ground and ground-to-hot light, but hot-to-neutral doesn't light, hot and ground are reversed.

enter image description here http://byramlabs.com/store/images/hi-res/SPE-et-201a.gif

It's a little complicated. Since there's no outlet hooked up you should probably just test to make sure the black-to-white and black-to-green light the light, if not there's a problem further down the line.

I mostly use this kind of tester to see which wires are hot in old work with cloth covered wires that you can't tell which color is which anymore.

It's also a handy tool to have to test all the wires in a box to make sure there's no power in any of them before you start touching them with your hands.

  • 1
    It would be useful to describe how to use this to detect the other defects shown on the tester in the question - hot-ground reversal and hot-neutral reversal. Mar 10, 2016 at 11:19
  • 1
    Uhh well you can't have a reversal because you haven't connected the receptacle yet. 😏
    – ArchonOSX
    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:38
  • @archonosx sure you can - if in the junction box before this someone messed up and connected black to neutral instead of hot for example.
    – Grant
    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:51
  • I was thinking the reversals weren't needed because of no receptacle also. I'm going to update the answer to include it.
    – Mysterfxit
    Mar 10, 2016 at 15:48
  • True that would be a mighty big screw up and then a glow stick would tell you the neutral was hot. Good point though.
    – ArchonOSX
    Mar 11, 2016 at 1:47

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