How do you check to see if a wire is energized or otherwise connected to a live AC power source? The quick and proper way is to use a non-contact voltage detector.
Voltage detectors, also commonly called voltage testers, are inexpensive and easy to find. I have a Milwaukee tester ($20 via Home Depot) that I definitely recommend, but Fluke, Extech, Klein, and Greenlee are other trusted brands.
In order to use a voltage tester, you must first find it. It’s no good to you if it’s buried at the bottom of your tool bag. This is why I find it kind of neat that Gardner Bender added voltage detector functionality to a number of their hand tools.
Gardner Bender’s Circuit Alert tools feature a removable voltage sensing module that can be used to quickly determine whether a wire is energized or not. GB’s Circuit Alert line includes a 10-in-1 multi-bit screwdriver, wire strippers, wire cutters, pliers, and a utility knife.
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Personally I’d rather have a spare voltage detector or two and my choice of hand tools, but I can definitely see the convenience in this design. The prices aren’t bad either, with many of the tools costing less than a couple of popular testers by themselves.