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This tool has been extremely helpful in mapping the wiring in my new home. It is the size and shape of a pen, and could not be simpler to use: Touch the plastic tip to a cable, switch, receptacle, or fixture where an AC potential in the range of 90 to 1000 volts is present, and the LED lights up.


It is “non-contact” in the sense that no electrical contact is made between the tester and the circuit, which is faster and safer than a traditional two-lead multimeter or circuit tester.


The tool includes a battery test button to verify that it is working in the negative test case, which is an essential safety feature if you’re actually going to fiddle with the wires. This model features an “always on” design, which is both more convenient, because you don’t have to fiddle with a power switch, and (arguably) safer because it eliminates the possibility of false negatives due to absentmindedly forgetting to turn it on (or accidentally turning it off) before taking a reading.


Advertising boasts of “special low power circuitry to sustain battery life.” I have only owned mine for a couple of weeks, so I can’t vouch for the battery life, but I note that it came packaged with two energizer AAA cells already installed, implying that Fluke is confident of battery performance over the unknown months or years the packaged tool might sit on a shelf or in a warehouse before purchase by the end user. The batteries are replaced by unscrewing the barrel at the tip.


The Fluke 2AC has performed flawlessly for me. The only “con” I can identify is the price. There are several of these non-contact voltage testers on the market, and comparing their prices among Prime-eligible Amazon items indicates that, as of this writing, the 2AC is on the high end of the distribution at $24.95, with the low-end tester coming it at $7.99. Personally, I don’t mind paying that premium for the Fluke name, but I imagine if you’re working carefully and paying attention (as you should be anytime you’re messing with building wiring) a less expensive model will probably serve your purpose just as well.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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Comments

  1. Joshua says:

    As an electrician for over 9 years I will strongly recommend that people utilizing this tool do not trust it too much.  This tool is great for checking to see if an outlet is hot or if a plug in device has power.  However, this tool is easily prone to failure and worse people trusting it too much.  The device is also only good for over 90v AC (alternating current).  It does not register on any level of DC (direct current) voltages or in AC voltages below 90 volts.  As another safety precaution you should test the device before and after on a known hot circuit.  This lets you know if the device is in working order.  Be safe!

  2. Anthony says:

    Had my foreman when I was an apprentice throw mine in the LA Aqueduct and tell me to always use proper tools.   Then when I had an apprentice we were having problem with a pipe threader.  He kept telling me its hot (checking with the non contact type tester)  I use my wiggy (Contact Solenoid) and it did not light up.  It was an open neutral.  The kid wasted a 1/2 hour.  I did not throw his tool away but understand why my foreman did what he did.

  3. Anthony says:

    Had my foreman when I was an apprentice throw mine in the LA Aqueduct and tell me to always use proper tools.   Then when I had an apprentice we were having problem with a pipe threader.  He kept telling me its hot (checking with the non contact type tester)  I use my wiggy (Contact Solenoid) and it did not light up.  It was an open neutral.  The kid wasted a 1/2 hour.  I did not throw his tool away but understand why my foreman did what he did.

  4. Anthony says:

    Had my foreman when I was an apprentice throw mine in the LA Aqueduct and tell me to always use proper tools.   Then when I had an apprentice we were having problem with a pipe threader.  He kept telling me its hot (checking with the non contact type tester)  I use my wiggy (Contact Solenoid) and it did not light up.  It was an open neutral.  The kid wasted a 1/2 hour.  I did not throw his tool away but understand why my foreman did what he did.

  5. newt says:

    As an Electrician of over 25 years I am in agreement with the other 2 commenters….These kind of testers are not reliable as I had bought one myself many years ago and found out………go straight to the horses mouth and do the job right.
    If you’re testing an outlet to see if there’s power…plug a lamp or radio into it if you do not want to or cannot afford a proper voltage tester. This is also helpful when trying to locate a specific circuit breaker or fuse if you are alone.
    Most of all if working on electrical items in your house or business is beyond your capabilities (and do not be embarrassed if it is) please call a trained and qualified professional.

  6. o4tuna says:

    the main objection to the non-contact voltage detectors given by electricians, is that you have no way of verifying whether or not your batteries are dead. try http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-Bender-GVD-3505-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004GFIZE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1306957259&sr=8-1 every time you use it, you rotate the thumb wheel, which gives you both an audio tone and a flashing light to verify that the batteries are good. You can also adjust the sensitivity, so you can hone in on one wire in a box – very useful. 

    1. The review you are replying to clearly indicates that the Fluke 2AC has a battery test button. The main concern indicated by electricians seems to be that indicating that there is voltage on a circuit tells you very little about its quality. I can rub the 2AC through my leg hair and it generates enough static voltage to light up the meter, but I’m not going to be able to plug my toaster into my leg.

  7. o4tuna says:

    the main objection to the non-contact voltage detectors given by electricians, is that you have no way of verifying whether or not your batteries are dead. try http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-Bender-GVD-3505-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004GFIZE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1306957259&sr=8-1 every time you use it, you rotate the thumb wheel, which gives you both an audio tone and a flashing light to verify that the batteries are good. You can also adjust the sensitivity, so you can hone in on one wire in a box – very useful. 

  8. o4tuna says:

    the main objection to the non-contact voltage detectors given by electricians, is that you have no way of verifying whether or not your batteries are dead. try http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-Bender-GVD-3505-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004GFIZE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1306957259&sr=8-1 every time you use it, you rotate the thumb wheel, which gives you both an audio tone and a flashing light to verify that the batteries are good. You can also adjust the sensitivity, so you can hone in on one wire in a box – very useful. 

  9. o4tuna says:

    the main objection to the non-contact voltage detectors given by electricians, is that you have no way of verifying whether or not your batteries are dead. try http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-Bender-GVD-3505-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004GFIZE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1306957259&sr=8-1 every time you use it, you rotate the thumb wheel, which gives you both an audio tone and a flashing light to verify that the batteries are good. You can also adjust the sensitivity, so you can hone in on one wire in a box – very useful. 

  10. o4tuna says:

    the main objection to the non-contact voltage detectors given by electricians, is that you have no way of verifying whether or not your batteries are dead. try http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-Bender-GVD-3505-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004GFIZE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1306957259&sr=8-1 every time you use it, you rotate the thumb wheel, which gives you both an audio tone and a flashing light to verify that the batteries are good. You can also adjust the sensitivity, so you can hone in on one wire in a box – very useful. 

  11. o4tuna says:

    the main objection to the non-contact voltage detectors given by electricians, is that you have no way of verifying whether or not your batteries are dead. try http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-Bender-GVD-3505-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004GFIZE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1306957259&sr=8-1 every time you use it, you rotate the thumb wheel, which gives you both an audio tone and a flashing light to verify that the batteries are good. You can also adjust the sensitivity, so you can hone in on one wire in a box – very useful. 

  12. o4tuna says:

    the main objection to the non-contact voltage detectors given by electricians, is that you have no way of verifying whether or not your batteries are dead. try http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-Bender-GVD-3505-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004GFIZE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1306957259&sr=8-1 every time you use it, you rotate the thumb wheel, which gives you both an audio tone and a flashing light to verify that the batteries are good. You can also adjust the sensitivity, so you can hone in on one wire in a box – very useful. 

  13. I to am an electrician, and must say that I agree with the other comments. Also, if you are going to buy one of these, go for the expensive one, in this case Fluke, which is a quality brand. The cheaper ones are often even more unreliable..

  14. I to am an electrician, and must say that I agree with the other comments. Also, if you are going to buy one of these, go for the expensive one, in this case Fluke, which is a quality brand. The cheaper ones are often even more unreliable..

  15. Wanted to thank all the professionals for taking the time to comment on this post.  I should have emphasized in this review (and can at least do so, now), the importance of verifying the negative test case when using this or a similar tool, and in a more general sense, not to trust a non-contact tool when  any electrocution hazard is present.

  16. Wanted to thank all the professionals for taking the time to comment on this post.  I should have emphasized in this review (and can at least do so, now), the importance of verifying the negative test case when using this or a similar tool, and in a more general sense, not to trust a non-contact tool when  any electrocution hazard is present.

  17. If I need to verify the presence of voltage, it will be done with a meter. A 120vac rated devices will not run properly – if at all- on 90vac. All the non-contact testers will do is show there is sufficient voltage to meet the devices detection threshhold.

    And that’s with 25+ years in the field.

  18. John Biggs says:

    The tester by Klein Tools lights a greenlight when it is on. The light turns red and an audible beep is heard in the presence of an AC current. The nice thing about that is you don’t have to push a battery test button and you will know if the thing suddenly dies or goes to sleep on you. Range of the Klein is 50-1000V~. Though I’ve had it pick up much lower (19v DC off a transformer).

  19. John Biggs says:

    The tester by Klein Tools lights a greenlight when it is on. The light turns red and an audible beep is heard in the presence of an AC current. The nice thing about that is you don’t have to push a battery test button and you will know if the thing suddenly dies or goes to sleep on you. Range of the Klein is 50-1000V~. Though I’ve had it pick up much lower (19v DC off a transformer).

    1. It is impossible for your tester to have registered 19v DC off a transformer. Transformers by their very nature do not pass DC. Perhaps you meant AC?

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