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Fluke markets its LVD1 as a non-contact voltage detector (“volt sniffer”), but I’ve found that the bright LED at the end makes a perfectly competent flashlight, too. The LVD1’s voltage-sensor indicator light glows when the unit is close to an AC field, as you’ll see after the jump.

The picture below shows the LVD1 indicating voltage in a lamp cord. It can pick out hot wires several inches away.

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For some applications, like crowded junction boxes, you want less sensitivity, and that’s where the Fluke’s bi-color indicator really shines — it flickers blue in the presence of weak fields, turning purple and then finally red as the field intensifies. Anyone working on AC will find it an indispensable tool.

The LVD1 only detects AC fields, so it’s useless for car wiring or anything else DC. It’s also not picky about what frequency it detects, so any changing field will show up — network cables, USB cables, and even fluorescent lights will make the indicator glow. So will cordless and cellular phones, when they’re transmitting! This usually isn’t a problem — holding the light by its clip rather than its body greatly reduces such spurious readings.

The LVD1 runs off a single AAA. In flashlight mode, it gives about three hours of good working light before the output starts to fall off noticeably. It’s good for many more hours of reduced output, adequate for reading but not hiking. When I need hands-free light, I clip it to my hat brim, my shirt collar, or whatever’s handy.

Street pricing is around $25.

Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


11 Responses to Fluke LVD1 Non-Contact Voltage Detector

  1. Eric says:

    I have not used this model specifically, but I ALWAYS have a voltage detector in my tool kit when I work on electrical. And when I used to manage a group of grocery-store installation mechanics, I insisted that each mechanic have (and use!) a voltage detector before working on refrigerated cases or food-prep equipment. It is absolutely the best way to insure that the juice is off before poking around a circuit. The model I use (which is also from Fluke) has an audible beep as well as a light. When I do repair work at my parent’s house, I like to have this around just to prove to my Mom (who is absolutely scared of electricity and the chance I might get shocked) that all is safe. I suggest that anyone who does electrical work, even just an occasional switch/fixture replacement around the house, has one of these.

  2. Bill says:

    One caveat for those who don’t already know, these voltage detectors will not detect hot elec wires shielded in metal conduit or armored cable. That being said I carry one at work all the time and I’m not in the trades. But when I’m doing a fire investigation and there are any exposed wires about, I pull out my detector and check first, I don’t care who says the power has been turned off. Please remember, and I’ve seen this, even if the main has been switched off or the utility has cut the power at the pole, you never know if someone stealing electricity has tapped into someone else electricity, or is back feeding whatever wire you’re about to touch.

  3. Phil says:

    I’ve had one of these for a few years. It’s tiny enough to keep on my keychain, so it’s always handy, and the big bonus is that it operates on a single AAA cell. No oddball combinations of coin cells that are short lived and hard to find like those used in almost all small LED lights.

    The voltage detection works as expected, with the initially blue indicator turning red as the detected voltage is approached and is higher than about 70 volts. Highly recommended.

  4. Julian Tracy says:

    That’s slick looking, but I’m currently using a GreenLee (I think), that has the little prong to stick in an outlet and it useful as you can stick it in the outlet and it’ll stay (most times).

    You can hear the beeping tone through a good portion of the house – often good enough to go into the basement and shut off the breaker and hear the beeping stop to confirm.

  5. Julian Tracy says:

    I’ll add that I now have a real circuit tracer (3M) and I no longer need to use my voltage detector for verbal confirmation, so I’ll probably pick one of these up cause it would be very handy to have a little flashlight always in the electrical kit bag.


  6. Zathrus says:

    A circuit tracer and a voltage detector are (usually) two different things. Tracers are great for sticking in an outlet, going to the breaker box, and finding the right breaker to turn off. Voltage detectors are more useful for ensuring that that the sheathed conduit in front of you that leads to who-knows-where is actually off. Or for checking that the power is off to a switch or light fixture prior to rewiring.

    They’re both useful!

  7. Sparkydave says:

    Being in the electrical field for 20 years now, we have a saying for these types of testers. They are commonly referred to as the DEATH STICK!!, why?
    They often give false readings, indicating live wires when they are not and vice versa. The ONLY way any of my people will test a circuit is with a wiggy. (solenoid type tester) If my life depends on it, there is no way an electronic device with a battery is sufficient. Don’t get me wrong here, I own one as well, but you had better know what you are doing. You may not get a second chance..be safe

  8. Rajesh Parmar says:

    Sparkydave ;

    Hi, it is very important information from you, i will be thankful if you can provide website or contact details for manufacturers of ‘Solenoid Type Tester’ referred in your response above. As we want to know more about it see catlogues.
    Thanks in anticipation.

  9. Jaiprakash More says:

    I have used several products Core Balance CT, High sensitive Clamp meters. All these voltage detectors/ sensors may not detect live wires shielded in metal conduit or armored cable. So you had better know what you are doing. You may not get a second chance..be safe & always consider all ckt are live (there may the best equipment gone faulty at the time u use it.) And even if you ensure the power OFF there are always chace of return path through netral & earthing from power stealers/other ckts. Only way to ensure conductor LIVE is….touch it to ground.

  10. Good points, Bill and Jaiprakash. Because this unit has variable glow intensity and color, it can be sensitive to faint signals (a flickery blue light) while not producing false alarms in an environment with stronger signals (just look for the solid red instead). I find that this makes it more versatile than a tester that has only a binary audible indication. Even shielded power cables show up, though I have to be within an inch or two, as opposed to unshielded which start to indicate from a foot or more away.

    All that being said, of course you should never rely on any of these things for safety. They are incredibly handy as a pre-check, though, and for simple questions like “Is this extension cord live?”. Since it’s such a handy flashlight, I always have it with me, which can’t be said for a real outlet tester or multimeter.

  11. Luke Spencer says:

    I was just working on a blog/video about this type of instrument. I have a greenlee voltage detector not nearly as nice as the one you have described here! Thank you for the post and I am jealous of you tester:)_


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