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I don't have one of those simple voltage detectors but I do have a Klein CL1000 meter and I need to identify the live and neutral wires from a plug in a socket.

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It's a two prong socket in Central America, 120 Vac 60 Hz.

How can I identify the live or neutral wire of a CL1000 with only a clamp meter?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, it is an electrician style VOM/clamp-meter. Do you have voltage probes for your Klein meter? \$\endgroup\$ – mkeith Sep 15 '17 at 2:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ And yes it has probes and alligator clips and a clamp \$\endgroup\$ – marciokoko Sep 15 '17 at 2:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it is like the sockets in the US, and if it is wired correctly, the wider prong is neutral. You cannot verify that with a meter unless you have a ground conductor somewhere. Neutral will be the prong whose voltage is within a couple of volts of Ground. The hot wire will be 120V with respect to neutral and 120V with respect to ground. Note that "120" may not be exactly 120. But it will probably be between 100 and 130V. \$\endgroup\$ – mkeith Sep 15 '17 at 3:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mkeith I think this is the answer. However, if there isn't a ground then any earthed surface (like a water pipe or sewer) would work. Neutral may be more volts than expected, maybe enough to be dangerous, but it should have no significant AC component \$\endgroup\$ – crasic Sep 15 '17 at 3:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @crasic: "Neutral ... should have no significant AC component." This isn't quite right. If there is voltage on the neutral it will most likely be AC. If it's dangerous then it will be significant. What were you trying to say? \$\endgroup\$ – Transistor Sep 15 '17 at 10:54
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Ground is Earth is the best reference for Vac(~), but not the only way to measure.

On this old socket it should be the metal housing and screw attached.

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Neutral ought to be < 5% of line voltage wrt. earth gnd.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah thanks, but the socket doesn't have a screw. It's like a new plastic type. I'm also wondering that even if I do find out which is live in this socket I'll have to figure it out for each socket I try it on. I need to power a "Power Unit" that will produce 24vdc from the 120Vac and it takes loose wire connections. So testing each socket is the only way, right? \$\endgroup\$ – marciokoko Sep 15 '17 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Line is the smaller slot in socket but normally it wont matter. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Sep 15 '17 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah if it's a normally wired socket but I would always want to double check. I guess that contact voltage detector is the best option \$\endgroup\$ – marciokoko Sep 15 '17 at 22:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ normally it wont matter for an AC transformer input. But it matters for offline non isolated types. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Sep 15 '17 at 22:40

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