By Mike Sokol
Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM.
I have one of the voltage testers you’ve previously recommended and it works great plugged into an outlet inside of my RV as a quick reminder of the voltage, as well as being a pretty nifty night light. But I also carry around a 3-light tester for basic outlet checking. Is there anything small and economical you can recommend that does both? —Doug
Yes, I do have a new test product that I like that functions both as a 3-light tester, as well as being a plug-in digital voltage tester. And since this one was originally designed for testing European power (240 volts), it should be just fine if it accidentally tangles with a miswired 30-amp outlet (while using an appropriate dog-bone adapter, of course).
I found this nifty tester online a few months ago and have been using it in a variety of voltage checking situations – and it looks really solid so far. Named the HT106B Socket Tester Pro from Kaiweets, it performs all of the 3-light tests for outlet polarity, open ground, open neutral, etc., as well as being a 3-digit digital voltage indicator.
In addition, it performs a standard 5 mA GFCI safety test – which you should be performing on all of your GFCI outlets once a month (or at least once a camping season). I’m showing it plugged in next to a standard 3-light outlet tester on my bench for size comparison. While it’s not something you’ll want to carry around in your pocket, this gadget is certainly a reasonable size when compared to a traditional digital meter.
Its only real drawback that I can find is that the ground pin is designed for an outlet oriented in traditional “ground-down” configuration. And as we all know, receptacles (outlets) on campground pedestals are required to be mounted with a “ground-up” configuration. So you may need to stand on your head to read the voltage numbers, or just use a short (1 ft.) extension cord which allows you to reorient the display.
Also, for quick voltage and polarity testing of the 30-amp outlet on a campsite pedestal I use one of these 30-amp to 15-amp dog-bone adapters in my RVelectricity seminars and it works great.
Where to get one? Well, as usual you can purchase it HERE on Amazon, and possibly from a few more places if you look around. However, I’ve not seen it in any of the standard big-box stores we all know and love (Big Blue and Big Orange). If you know of other places to get it locally please let me know in the comments below and I’ll update the post.
OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com.