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Old 05-24-2011, 10:47 PM   #1
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Default Neon Tester Findings

Been using neon tester for many years for following. To find hot in box, grounded conductors, 240, 120, etc...Just by the intensity of light I could figure out what was what without a meter.

To find the hot in the box i've always touched the neon to conductors and other end to fingertip with thick rubber boots on. Faint glow meant the hot.

Question: How do get the faint glow with basically no return path and very high resistance? Same with neutral, except faint would mean bad neutral, but why faint and not just no glow?? For some reason I thought you had to have a full return path to get a glow.

I know it's all ohm's law so some other analogy would help.
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cletis View Post
Been using neon tester for many years for following. To find hot in box, grounded conductors, 240, 120, etc...Just by the intensity of light I could figure out what was what without a meter.

To find the hot in the box i've always touched the neon to conductors and other end to fingertip with thick rubber boots on. Faint glow meant the hot.

Question: How do get the faint glow with basically no return path and very high resistance? Same with neutral, except faint would mean bad neutral, but why faint and not just no glow?? For some reason I thought you had to have a full return path to get a glow.

I know it's all ohm's law so some other analogy would help.
The first job I was on the JW called it an "idiot" light. Never used it again.
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:08 PM   #3
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Once again, Cletis comes up with a great story.
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:14 PM   #4
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How is explaining neon tracers and ohm's law a story??
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:41 PM   #5
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I've never used a neon tester like that, but I think it's just a case of your insulated boots not being quite as insulated as you prefer and your body is conducting a tiny bit of current.

Have you ever noticed if the light glows a different brightness when you try this trick standing in a concrete basement versus a plywood attic?

I think you're opening yourself up to the possibility of a nasty shock, but other than that, try standing on a couple ceramic tiles the next time you do it, and see if it still works.

-John
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:46 PM   #6
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Yeah. I did that accidently once. I'm guessing it glowed very bright cause I jumped backwards a few feet. I would have thought that with thick dry socks and very thick rubber redwing electrician shoes my resistance would be infinity to the ground ?
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:50 PM   #7
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I use a Ideal Test-Glo at work because I work with 125 VDC controls.
The neon voltage test lights draw a extremely small amount of current Maybe down in the micro or picro amp range.
with that being said they can tolerate extremely high resistance in the circuit.
When I started in this game I carried a small neon test screwdriver it had a metal clip and a large resister in the handle between the neon lamp and the clip.I would touch the screwdriver tip to a conductor and the circuit would be completed through my body. That was many years before we had non contact capacitance coupled voltage testers.
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Old 05-24-2011, 11:52 PM   #8
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...I would have thought that with thick dry socks and very thick rubber redwing electrician shoes my resistance would be infinity to the ground ?
Unless the boots where brand-spanking-new bone-dry EH rated, I wouldn't count on that stuff to be a great insulator.

A little bit of sweat, a little bit of dirt, a little bit of water is all it takes to ruin an insulation rating. I've gotten a little buzz from 120V in my boots that are supposed to be rated to withstand something like 10,000V.

-John
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:06 AM   #9
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The path of current IS indead thru your body to ground,
But neons need very little current to operate,
Typically around 500ua,
So you dont feel it.
No need for ohms law to explain this one.
I dont have to tell you that letting ANY current
flow thru your body is RISKY.
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:02 AM   #10
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Even if you're completely insulated from any return path, the capacitance of your body will be enough to cause the light to glow some.
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:50 AM   #11
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Capacitance.
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