low voltage


Old 06-30-08, 02:02 PM
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low voltage

I Have an elecrical outlet that only shows 80 volts. The plug has 2 brown wires on one side and 2 white on the other side. I checked it 3 times and checked other plugs that read 110.
Any Ideas?
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Old 06-30-08, 02:11 PM
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Plug a lamp into that receptacle, switch it on and test the voltage again. I bet that you will find the bulb does not light and the actual voltage is zero. Search for "phantom voltage" for an explanation.

Your likely problem is a loose or broken wire at this receptacle or at a device upstream in the circuit. The remedy is to open up all of the receptacles, switches and light fixtures on this circuit until you find the weak connection. Move any backstabbed wires to the adjacent screw terminals. The problem is usually at the first non-working receptacle or last working receptacle.
Old 06-30-08, 02:59 PM
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120v is the maximum into a high-impedance meter for phantom voltages due to Romex interconductor capacitance, 60v if one of the Romex leads is grounded, something in the middle if you're using a 1000 ohms/volt analog meter.

This line might also be in series with some load, somewhere. See if this voltage stays when using a hair dryer. Pulling 10A should drop you about 3v.
A bad neutral connection can give you above and below 120v depending on what else in the house is switched on.
Old 06-30-08, 09:24 PM
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Digital voltmeters are very misleading when used for checking voltages for house-wiring. Electricians use what's called a "wiggy". HD sells them for about 14 bucks.

Last edited by sidecutter; 06-30-08 at 09:26 PM. Reason: typing error
Old 06-30-08, 09:37 PM
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Inflation hits everywhere, they're about $20.

Old 07-01-08, 07:21 AM
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The specs on the Wigglesworth says "up to" 5 mA input current, so it may trip an upstream GFI.

I kinda' prefer my 4-1/2 digit DVM along with several load resistors.

A 100 ohm 100w rheostat comes in handy when you don't know if you're looking into a short circuit or 600w worth of incandescent lamps, but a 100 w bulb works almost as well. Most meters have trouble resolving milliohms.

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