About a year ago we moved to a new place. After receiving the keys, one of the first things we did was test the outlets. This was done by walking around and plugging a small table lamp into each and every socket. The process wasn’t too complicated, but it could have been easier if we had a receptacle tester.
Testing the kitchen and bathroom GFCI outlets required a little more effort and work, especially when the test and reset buttons on one outlet controlled power to others not within arm’s reach.
If you’re a homeowner or DIYer, you can get away with using a small table lamp to test your outlets. But if you’re an electrician, handyman, or tradesman, you should have a receptacle tester in your tool bag.
Klein sent over their new RT600 GFCI receptacle tester for review. The RT600 is designed to detect the most common wiring problems in standard 120V 3-prong outlets. Their lower-priced RT500 tester is similar, but lacks the GFCI testing function.
A receptacle tester does exactly what the name suggests – it is used to test electrical outlets and verify that the wiring is correct.
- correct wiring
- open ground
- open neutral
- open hot
- hot and ground reversed (reverse polarity)
- hot and neutral reversed
- hot on neutral with hot opening
Does not test for:
- quality of ground
- multiple hot wires
- combination of defects
- reversal of grounded and grounding conductors
To use it, you simply plug it into an outlet, and read the lights. If the two outer bulbs light up, the outlet is wired correctly. If one of them is out or the center red bulb lights up, something’s wrong.
The legend on the front of the tester tells you what the light codes mean.
This is what you should see when plugging the tester into a correctly wired outlet.
Before use, or perhaps occasionally, you should plug the tester into an outlet that us known to be correctly wired to ensure that the tester itself is working properly.
To test a GFCI outlet, plug in the tester and press the test button. If the GFCI is working properly, power to the outlet will be disrupted and the tester’s lights should turn off. Pressing the GFCI reset button on the controlling outlet should reenergize the circuit.
Klein’s RT600 is an absolute pleasure to use. Its shape allows for quick and easy outlet insertion and removal, and the lamps are bright and effortless to read. Klein states that the prongs are reinforced for greater durability, and they do feel strong and stiff.
This is one of those tools so well executed that it just blends into the background.
The RT600 is made in the USA from domestic and imported parts.
More Info(via Klein)
The RT500 is similar to the RT600, and also made in the USA, but does not have a GFCI test function.
You could always test GFCI outlets manually, but in cases where the test and reset switches are in another room (as with some bathrooms) or out of arm’s reach, having a test button on the outlet tester will save you from having to make too many back-and-forth trips.
The RT600 tester is priced at about $33, and the RT500 without GFCI button is priced at about $21.
There are less expensive testers out there (search results via Amazon), but I would think that these new made-in-USA Klein models are made from better and more durable components and materials. The RT600 certainly feels like a robust piece of equipment.
Thank you to Klein for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.