What are the Undocumented Outlet Tester Light Meanings? Examining All Combinations

Friday, June 19, 2020

What are the Undocumented Outlet Tester Light Meanings? Examining All Combinations


Someone asked in the comments of a previous video, what all the outlet tester light meanings were. Tester tools typically have a limited space and only explain the most common ways plugs are miswired. In this video, Harley looks at all the different ways a plugs wiring could be messed up and shows what lights the tester shows.

Get an outlet tester of your own: https://amzn.to/2V0EX3J (Affiliate link)


Stay connected with what's happening here at the House of Hacks by signing up for our newsletter

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, you may subscribe here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the House of Hacks' values, here’s a playlist for you.

And here’s the most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to What are the Undocumented Outlet Tester Light Meanings? Examining All Combinations

Here's a list of the tools I use.

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 4.0 by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing"


A number of years ago, I did a video talking about this and how to use it.

It's a 110 outlet tester and it lists 6 different ways that outlets can be miswired and gives you codes for these lights light up.

A couple people commented that they were getting the lights lighting up in ways that weren't documented.

In today's video, I'm going to go through all the different ways, there's 6 listed here but I counted 12 different ways, an outlet could actually be miswired and see what kind of light codes we get for the different ways that they're wired.

If we're just meeting, I'm Harley. Welcome to the House of Hacks.

I make things out of various things here in the workshop.

Sometimes that includes doing 110 wiring, for which these are really handy.

Let's go over to the workbench, see the test setup and then checkout the 12 different combinations and what the lights look like for those.

At the bench here, I have an outlet that's wired correctly and the wires are plugged directly into an outlet.

I do not recommend you do this at home.

There is exposed 110 voltage here.

And there's a high risk of shock, injury and potentially even death.

So, I'm doing this so you don't have to.

Right now, this is plugged in over here in the correct configuration, as we can see from the outlet tester.

I'll go through the 6 different documented ways that the tester will report errors and then I'll go through the 6 undocumented ways and we'll see what the lights look like.

So, hopefully, that will tell us something about what those commenters were asking and give you that information.

OK, here we can see we have correctly wired because our lights are lit up to be correct.

And now we have hot/neutral reversed with the red and orange.

And now we have the open hot with no lights lit whatsoever.

And here we have open neutral with a single orange light.

Here we have a hot/ground reversed configuration.

And here we have the last documented item with an open ground with just a single orange light.

Now let's take a look at what other combinations we have that aren't documented.

Here's a ground/neutral reversed. Interestingly, it doesn't show up any different than a correct.

And here we have an open hot with neutral/ground reversed.

And in this case we don't get any lights because we don't really have any power coming into the tester for it to be able to light anything up with.

OK, this is a very confused situation where we have hot going to neutral and ground and neutral swapped.

OK, here we have a situation where ground and hot are reversed and neutral is open.

Looks like the tester can't detect this situation.

Now this is a really twisted situation here again where nothing is anywhere close to being correct.

Neutral is wired to hot. Hot is wired to ground and ground is wired to neutral.

OK, and here's the last undocumented configuration where ground is open and hot and neutral are reversed.

If you're interested in the video where I talk about how to use one of those outlet testers, it's in this video over here.

Down here is a video that YouTube thinks you'll enjoy.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection isn't required.

Fun is!








Take a shot for every time I say "Configuration."