16 Best Socket Tester Units for Testing Power Socket Outlets

Last updated on August 13th, 2018 at 11:33 am

Completing a project or building a product without actually testing it is definitely a recipe for a disaster. In almost all project development life cycles, testing is considered the last and very important phase before a product is released for use. The testing phase ensures that a product or a project meets the standards and requirements. An electrical wiring project might be viewed as a small project but it can be potentially dangerous if it is not done correctly. Improperly wired outlet sockets can damage equipment, cause injuries or even worse, lead to loss of life. It is therefore very critical to perform a wiring test and most importantly test the electrical power socket outlets to protect equipment from damage as well as to prevent injuries and possible deaths.

A socket tester is a cheap handy tool used by skilled and unskilled persons to test the correctness of the wiring of power receptacles. In fact, vigilant home buyers use it to inspect the wall socket for safety and correctness of wiring before buying a house. In this article, we review socket testers based on both their features and the country socket standards. The emphasis, however, will be in the UK and US power outlets.

ProductImageFeaturesEditor's Ratings

4 Best Simple U.S Standard Socket Tester

Gardner Bender GRT-3500 Outlet Receptacle Tester
gardner-bender-grt-3500-outlet-testergardner-bender-grt-3500-outlet-tester
  • Works with US standard110-125V 60Hz 3-prong socket outlet
  • Has three lamps (2 neon and 1 red) to indicate the staus of the power socket
  • Dual status chart for multiple position viewing
  • Compact and ergonomically shaped
  • Has a housing guaranteed to withstand up to 10ft drop
Amprobe ST-101B Socket Tester
armprobe-st-101b-socket-testerarmprobe-st-101b-socket-tester
  • Checks and confirms proper wiring of AC outlets
  • Has three incandescent lights
  • Operates on US standard AC socket outlets

Pros
Cheap and easy to use
Easy to read key
Cons
Incandescent lights are inferior to LEDs
Vertical prongs makes reading key from a distance difficult
Power Gear 3-wire Receptacle Tester
power-gear-3-wire-recpetacle-testerpower-gear-3-wire-recpetacle-tester
  • Checks and confirms proper wiring of AC outlets
  • Easy to read lights
  • Operates on US standard AC socket outlets

Pros
Cheap and easy to use
Performs basic tests
Cons
Vertical prongs makes reading key from a distance difficult
Plastic case would break after a few drops
People with difficulty in seeing might not differentiate yellow and white on the lables
Electrical Receptacle Wall Plug AC Outlet Ground Tester with GFI Reset
electrical-receptacle-wall-plug-ac-outlet-ground-tester-with-GFI-resetelectrical-receptacle-wall-plug-ac-outlet-ground-tester-with-GFI-reset
  • Works with any 110-125V 60Hz 3-prong outlet
  • Has three LEDs to indicate the staus of the wall socket
  • Operates on US standard AC socket outlets
  • Has labels on the front side to explain the status of the LEDs status
  • Has a GFCI reset button

Pros
Cheap and easy to use
Performs basic tests
Tests the GFI reset buttons
Cons
Plastic case would break after a few drops
Relatively poor construction quality
The labels are not firmly attached and thus may fall off

4 Best Simple UK Standard Socket Testers

Kewtech KEWCHECK103 Mains Wiring Socket Tester
shoppingcenter-simple-socket-testershoppingcenter-simple-socket-tester
  • Has 6 LED patterns to indicate the status of the electrical socket.
  • Has continuous audio tone for correct wiring
  • Has a warble tone for incorrect wiring
  • Plug has three rectangular prongs
  • Suitable for 13A rated UK mains socket
ShoppingCentre Mains Socket Tester
shoppingcenter-simple-socket-testershoppingcenter-simple-socket-tester
  • Has 5 LED patterns to indicate the status of the electrical socket.
  • Has audio tone for LED statuses
  • Plug has three rectangular prongs
  • Suitable for 13A rated UK mains socket
Martindale CP501 Socket Tester
martindale-check-plug-socket-testermartindale-check-plug-socket-tester
  • Has 3 LEDs and 5 LED patterns.
  • The top cover has simple fault codes
  • Plug has three rectangular prongs
  • Suitable for 13A rated UK mains socket
  • Does not have audio indicators
Invero® UK Mains Electrical Power Plug-In Socket Tester
invero-simple-cket-testerinvero-simple-cket-tester
  • Has 3 LEDs and 6 LED patterns.
  • Complies with British Standard BS EN 610101-1
  • The top cover has simple fault codes
  • Plug has three rectangular prongs
  • Suitable for 13A rated UK mains socket

4 Best Advanced US Standard Socket Testers

Sperry Instruments GFI6302 GFCI Outlet Tester
sperry-instrument-gfi6302-gfci-outlet-testersperry-instrument-gfi6302-gfci-outlet-tester
  • Has three neon lamps
  • Indicates 7 common wiring conditions
  • Has a legend on both sides indicating the light patterns and wiring conditions
  • It is compact and ergonomically designed with over-moulded rubber grips
  • Tests US standard 3-wire and GFCI protected 120V outlets
  • cULus and CE approved
  • Lifetime warranty cover
Meterk GFCI Electric Socket Tester
meterk-gfci-electric-socket-testermeterk-gfci-electric-socket-tester
  • Has a US standard 3-pin plug
  • Has a GFI test button
  • Has a 3 LEDs to indicate the socket status
  • Has 7 LED patterns to indicate the status of the electrical socket.
  • Works with any 110-125V 60Hz 3-prong electrical receptacle
Amprobe ST-102B Socket Tester with GFCI
Amprobe-ST-102B-Socket-Tester-with-GFCIAmprobe-ST-102B-Socket-Tester-with-GFCI
  • Has a GFCI button
  • Has an easy to read
  • Has three incandescent lamps; 1 red and 2 amber
  • Designed to test 110 – 125 V AC sockets
  • Wattage rating: 0.3W
  • Has a 90 days warranty
Tacklife EST01 Advanced GFCI Outlet Tester Power Socket
tacklife-EST01-advanced-GFCI-outlet-tester-power-socket -testertacklife-EST01-advanced-GFCI-outlet-tester-power-socket -tester
  • Has three bright LED lights
  • Has a GFCI test button
  • Generates 5mA RCD test current
  • Has a US standard plug
  • 24 months warranty

4 Best Simple U.K Standard Socket Tester

Kewtech LOOPCHECK107 Mains Socket Tester with Loop Check
kewtech-loopcheck107-advanced-socket-testerkewtech-loopcheck107-advanced-socket-tester
  • Automatically runs a wiring check when plugged into a receptacle
  • Features three bright LED lights to show different wiring conditions
  • Includes a continuous tone for good wiring and a warble for bad wiring
  • Has an RCD test button that causes the tester to generate 30mA RCD test current
  • Also features an array of color LEDs to indicate the quality of the earth path
  • Highlights faults by red and orange LEDs and a warble tone
Socket & See SOK36 Professional Socket Tester
socket-and-see-sock36-professional-socket-testersocket-and-see-sock36-professional-socket-tester
  • Has a self-checking mechanism when plugged into a socket
  • Features three bright LEDs to show the wiring status
  • Also features an RCD test button that sends 30mA residue current
  • Includes a polarity check feature for detecting possible L-N swap at the mains supply
  • Includes an array for LEDs to display the value range of loop impedance
  • It is small and compact
Martindale MAREZ150 Loop Check Plug tester-Yellow
martindale-marez150-loop-check-plug-testermartindale-marez150-loop-check-plug-tester
  • Has three LEDs to indicate various wiring conditions
  • Also features three more LEDs for indicating the earth fault loop impedance.
  • Performs voltage test(high, low, and normal)
  • Does not include RCD functionality check
Socket Tester, Tacklife EST03 Advanced GFCI Power Meter 220-250V Mains Outlet Live Neutral Earth Wire RCD Tester
tacklife-est03-advanced-gfci-power-meter-220-250Vtacklife-est03-advanced-gfci-power-meter-220-250V
  • Features three bright LED lights to show 7 different wiring conditions
  • Also features an RCD test button
  • Generates 30mA RCD test current
  • Compliant with CE CAT.II 600V RoHS safety standard
  • 24 months warranty

Socket Tester Reviews by Functionality

As mentioned earlier in this article, socket testers are classified into three functional categories: simple, advanced, and professional. In the next few sections, we shall be exploring the features of each type as well as reviewing some of the best devices on the market.

Simple Socket Testers

A simple socket-outlet tester is a device designed to detect some of the basic electrical faults that might occur in the power outlet wiring. It is also considered as a tool for the first-line diagnosis of a power outlet wiring. Most simple socket testers have three LEDs to indicate the state of a socket wiring, and a reference menu to interpret the LEDs sequence. It can be used by skilled or unskilled persons to detect faulty wiring in a wall socket or an extension lead. However, the downside is that a simple outlet tester detects the absence of an earth fault but cannot measure the actual earth fault loop impedance at the socket outlet.

Advanced Socket Testers

This socket tester is designed to detect a wide range of faults including all those a simple socket tester detects. Besides testing the wiring of a wall socket, an advanced socket tester typically tests the earth loop impedance, RCD, and some even perform a polarity check. Earth loop impedance simply refers to the measure of the effectiveness of the protective earthing. An advanced socket-outlet tester displays either a range of numerical values into which the earth fault loop impedance falls. An electrician then interprets the range to determine if the socket outlet is grounded for safety. RCD check involves testing the functionality of an RCD installed in the premises. It sends a tripping current to safely trip an RCD in order to ensure that it will operate as required should there be an accident. For the US standard sockets, the RCD test current is 5mA and 30mA for the UK sockets. The polarity check feature enables checking of the possibility of there being a neutral/live(hot) swap at the mains supply where the supply enters the premises. An advanced socket tester is meant to be used by a skilled electrician who can interpret the outcomes of each test.

Sperry Instruments GFI6302 GFCI Outlet Tester

If you are looking for an outlet tester that combines a unique compact ergonomic design with both basic and advanced features, then look no further than the Sperry Instruments GFCI6320 outlet tester. It is a little handy advanced socket tester designed to test for 7 different wiring conditions. It also has a GFCI button for testing GFCI protected outlets. The tool is designed with the user’s safety in mind because its sturdy plastic casing offers double insulation that adds a layer of protection to the user. The sperry instruments GFI6302 receptacle tester also provides comfort to the user with its rubber over-moulded grips. The socket tester is also made of tough and durable material that makes it ideal for use in any environment with CAT III 300V rating. In fact, the unit is cULus listed, meaning that it has been tested to meet the US and Canadian requirements. It is also CE approved which simply means that the unit meets the EU health, safety and environmental requirements that ensure consumer and workplace safety.

    Advantages
  • The wiring legend printed in both sides makes ideal for use on upright and inverted sockets
  • The rubber over-molded grips offer a comfortable grip
  • It is durable and reliable
  • Ideal for testing exterior outlets with covers
  • Has a limited lifetime warranty
    Disadvantages
  • The test button is so sensitive that the slightest stroke will cause it to test the GFCI
  • The incandescent lights makes it difficult to tell if the light are on in a well lit room
  • Only has visual indicators
  • Contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.
  • Will not detect 2 hot wires in circuit

sperry_instruments_user_manualSperry Instrument Manual


Meterk GFCI MK16US Electric Socket Tester

If you like installing your wall socket upside down then the Meterk GFCI socket tester is the tool for you. It is quarely built nicely with strong, stiff, impact resistant and flame retardant ABS material for durability and versatility. The unit is ideal for checking checking the wiring in the house and the polarity of the socket connection. Meterk GFCI receptacle tester, like the other advanced socket testers, has a GFCI button for tripping the GFI electrical sockets. It also features three bright LEDs for indicating 7 possible wiring statuses of an socket. The front has graphic to explain the LED patterns.

    Advantages
  • Has 3 Bright LEDs are visible in a lit room
  • The case has a reverse taper that makes this tool easier to plug in and out
  • The front of unit has a graphic to explain the LEDs patterns
    Disadvantages
  • User manual is not easy to read
  • Will not detect 2 hot wires in circuit


Amprobe ST-102B Receptacle Tester with GFCI

The armprobe ST-102B socket tester is red in color with a black GFCI test button for testing the GFCI sockets. It has three vertical US standard prongs on one end and three incandescent lamps on the other. The unit also has a legend that explains six wiring conditions. Regarding user’s safety, the armprobe ST-102B socket tester is listed for safety by UL and cULus safety agencies and is designed to test 110 to 125V AC outlets.

    Advantages
  • Meets safety regulations
  • Has a manual written in English and Spanish
  • Engineered to perform in a tough and professional environment
    Disadvantages
  • User manual is not easy to read
  • The incandescent lights makes it difficult to tell if the light are on in a well lit room
  • Only has visual indicators
  • Will not indicate quality of ground resistance
  • Will not detect 2 hot wires in circuit
  • Will not detect a combination of defects
  • Will not indicate reversal of grounded and grounding
    conductors

armprobe-ST-102B-Receptacle-user-manualArmprobe ST-102B Receptacle Manual


Tacklife EST01 Advanced GFCI Outlet Tester Power

In case you are searching for versatile advanced socket tester that combines horizontal prongs and LEDs instead of incandescent lights, then the Tacklife EST01 Advanced GFCI Outlet Tester is what you need. The unit has two green LEDs and a red LED which indicate 7 different wiring statuses of your power receptacle. It also has an easy to read faults chart printed on the front that explains the seven possible LEDs patterns which include correct wiring, hot neutral reverse, hot ground reverse, missing neutral, missing hot, and missing ground. Like the Sperry Instruments GFCI6320 tester, Tacklife EST01 features a GFCI test button that sends a 5mA tripping current to the GFCI socket to ensure electrical safety. The contrast, however, is that unlike the Sperry instruments unit that has a lifetime warranty, this unit only has 2 years of cover. Tacklife EST01 is CE rated and approved for use in CAT. II 600V rated environments such as schools, laboratories, and other social fields.

    Advantages
  • 3 Bright LEDs that can be seen well in both a dark and a lit room
  • Has a 2 year warranty cover
    Disadvantages
  • Not ideal for wall sockets with a ground at the bottom
  • Only has visual indicators
  • Its square shape makes it hard to test exterior outlets with exterior covers.
  • The ground prong tends to come lose when a lot of force is used to push it into a socket outlet
  • Will not detect 2 hot wires in circuit

4 Best Advanced UK Standard Socket Testers

Professional Socket Testers

This socket outlet test device is more complex than advanced devices because it uses additional components and technology to indicate loop impedance more accurately; either in numerical values or shorter ranges. It has all the normal checks of an advanced socket tester. The device conforms to the BS EN 61557-3 standards and therefore it can be used to certify or report on an electrical installation. Similar to the advanced device, a professional tester is also meant to be used by skilled technician.

What is a socket tester?

A socket tester is a plug-in electronic device designed to give a quick and easy indication of the condition of the socket outlet circuit. It is used by both skilled and unskilled persons to detect basic electrical faults on a wall socket or an extension lead. There are many proprietary socket testers in the market, some which vary in design while others vary in functionality. Based on their functionalities, receptacle testers can be classified into three main categories: Simple, Advanced, and Professional. They can be further classified according to the type of electrical outlet plug they are designed for. There are about 15 types of electrical socket plugs in use today in the world, each of which is assigned a letter by the US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration from A to O. However, the most common power outlet standards in the market are the UK and US standards, which are types A&B and type G respectively.

Types of Power Socket Outlets and Plugs by Country Standard

1. US Power Socket (Types A and B)

Features of Type A power plug and socket
  • Class II ungrounded plug
  • Plug 2 flat parallel prongs.
  • Prongs are polarised
  • Plugs are polarised and can only be inserted one way.
  • Rated 100V – 127V
  • A socket has only two flat slots.
  • Common standard in North and Central America
Features of Type B power plug and socket
  • Class I grounded plug
  • Plug 2 flat parallel prongs and a round or U-shaped earth pin.
  • Earth pin is longer than the flat pins
  • Plugs are polarised and can only be inserted one way.
  • A socket has two flat slots and a round slot.
  • For 100V – 127V ~AC
  • Designated American standard.

2. UK Power outlet (Type G)

Features of Type G power socket and plug
  • Plug has 3 rectangular prongs that form an isosceles triangle.
  • Plug fitted with a 13A fuse.
  • Receptacle has three rectangular holes
  • For 220V – 240V ~AC

How to use an AC outlet tester

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