As someone who has rehabbed a lot of old houses over the years, I’ve seen lots of scary electrical “fixes” performed by clueless handymen and homeowners. Some of the perpetrators may even have survived! Even on homes that haven’t been butchered too badly, there’s frequently a need to add outlets or circuits. Sometimes this is for convenience, so you can run the five-gallon frothing Frappuccino maker simultaneously with the pasta maker and the color-changing mood lighting. Other times it’s for more mundane reasons, like meeting code requirements. Whatever the reason, being able to quickly verify that the power is OFF for the circuit you want to work on can be a huge time saver. Using a non-contact voltage tester (NCVT) is an easy way to make sure you really DID power down the right circuit. Klein makes a variety of NCVTs, including some multi-purpose models. They sent one of their latest models our way, so we could see how it measures up. Join us for a full-contact look at the Klein NCVT-6 with built-in laser distance measure.
Looking like a beefed-up version of its one-trick brother, the Klein NCVT-1, the Klein NCVT-6 is a bit longer and a bit thicker. It also has a more complex control setup than the single power button on the Klein NCVT-1. The main power button puts the tester into voltage testing mode, and two other buttons let you put the unit into laser measuring mode, or adjust the display options. We’ll explore further after a quick peek at the features and specs, and a soothing musical overview from Klein:
• Provides non-contact determination of AC voltage in cables, cords, circuit breakers, switches, outlets and wires, as well as AC voltage in security, entertainment, communications, environmental control, and irrigation systems
• Detects AC voltage from 12 to 1000V with visual and audible indicators
• Incorporates a 66-Foot (20 m) Laser Distance Meter that can measure in meters, inches with decimals, inches with fractions, feet with decimals, or feet with fractions
• High-visibility reverse contrast display for better viewing in low light conditions
• Laser Class II, 630 to 670nm, Max. Power <1mW
• Simple-to-use intuitive interface; easy single-button changes between laser distance measurements and voltage detection
• Delivers simultaneous visual and audible voltage indicators when AC voltage is detected
• Audible voltage indicator beeps at a greater frequency the higher the voltage that is sensed, or the closer to the voltage source
• Built to withstand a 6.6-Foot (2 m) drop
• Auto Power-Off conserves and extends battery life
• Screw-thread battery cap
• Lightweight tool with pocket clip for easy everyday carrying and storage
• CAT IV 1000V safety rating
• Ingress Protection IP40 Dust Resistant
• Application: Non-Contact Detection and Testing of AC Voltage with Integrated Laser Distance Meter
• Special Features: Full-Range Voltage Detection From 12-1000 VAC with Visual and Audible Indicators: Laser Distance Meter; High Visibility Reverse Contrast Display
• Frequency: 50 – 500 Hz
• Standard: CAT IV 1000V, Laser: Class II, 630nm to 670nm, Max. Power <1mW
• Included: 2 x Alkaline 1.5V AAA Batteries
• Overall Length: 6.45''(164 mm)
• Overall Height: 1.21'' (31 mm)
• Overall Width: 1.32'' (34 mm)
• Weight: 2.5 oz (72 g)
Navigating The Klein NCVT-6: Voltage Detection Mode
Operating the Klein NCVT-6 in voltage detection mode is pretty straightforward. Give the power button a quick press, and the tool beeps once and emits a soothing blue light. Move the tip toward the wires in question; if they’re hot, the light will turn red. The tester will also start beeping, with the beeps becoming more insistent as you get closer, or the voltage increases. It can detect A/C voltage from 12 – 1,000 volts; I’d like to see what it does when it comes across that 1,000 volt circuit!
If you’re operating the tester in measuring mode, a quick press of the power button switches you back to voltage testing mode. Got your testing finished? Hold the power button in for about two seconds to power down.
Along with the beeping and flashing red lights, the Klein NCVT-6 also displays a varying number of dashes on the LCD scale to indicate voltage strength. If the beeping bugs you, you can use the tester in silent mode. With the tester off, hold the power button in for five seconds, and when it powers up, all will be blissfully quiet. After it’s powered down, the tool will revert to normal indications next time it’s used.
Taking The Measure Of The Klein NCVT-6
Now let’s take a look at the sweet bonus feature of the Klein NCVT-6: The laser distance measure. I’ve been using a laser distance measure (LDM) for a few years now. While I first thought they were kind of gimmicky, I’m a convert. For getting fast rough or precision measurements, especially of large rooms or weird spaces, they’re a huge time saver.
To put the Klein NCVT-6 into LDM mode, give the LDM button (the red button with the DANGER – RADIATION! symbol) a quick press. The tool will beep, and the measurement will show in the LCD display.
To enter continuous measurement mode, press and hold the LDM button for several seconds. Every time you take a new measurement (by giving the button a quick press), you’ll get another beep and the display will update. To shut ‘er down, hold the button in for about two seconds.
For your measuring convenience, the Klein NCVT-6 can take its measurements from either the front tip of the tool or the back end. This is handy, as it allows you to place it against a wall or floor and get a full measurement. To switch modes, give the Change Option button (the middle button) a quick press. Each press toggles between front and rear reference points.
Having trouble figuring out exactly how the hell long 12.287’ is? Or maybe you live in one of those countries that use that new-fangled “metric system?” Never fear – the Klein NCVT-6 makes it easy to get your measurements in a format YOU like.
The LDM can display your measurements in any of five formats: Meters, inches with decimals, inches with fractions, feet with decimals, and feet with fractions. To toggle through, just give the Change Option button a long press, repeating until your favorite format shows up. Once it’s set, it will stay until you change it.
The Klein NCVT-6: Testing The Tester
The Klein NCVT-6 got put to work on a couple of “current” projects. Both involved updates to older homes, as we attempted to sort out existing wiring, while doing some updates. Note: There’s an excellent habit you should get into, which might save you from waking up on the floor with smoldering fingertips. ALWAYS verify that your NCVT is working properly by testing it on a known live circuit. I have had NCVTs go bad in the past, glowing green and failing to give any indication of a hot circuit. BE SAFE!
I used the NCVT in several locations, including on wall outlets, Romex cable in wall cavities, and in various electrical device boxes. In every case, the Klein NCVT-6 detected the live wiring, with red light and lots of beeping. In one instance, it discovered live wires in a box that had been buried in a wall. That’s not the first time I’ve made that particular discovery.
One minor complaint on this tester is that due to the inclusion of the LDM, the business end is fairly large and stubby. On the dedicated NCVTs, there is generally a pointed end that can be placed on specific wires or terminals, for a more accurate reading of what is actually hot. The relatively large and un-pointy tip of the Klein NCVT-6 makes it tougher to pinpoint a specific wire in a crowded box.
The 411 On The NCVT-6 LDM
And now it’s on to the Laser Distance Measure, the “cool” feature of the Klein NCVT-6. Although I guess you could consider not getting electrocuted pretty cool, too…We used the LDM feature to check the ceiling height in a room where we were adding a ceiling fan. Not getting decapitated is also pretty cool.
The LDM was very handy getting rough measurements on a room filled with covered furniture and other obstacles. I also used it to calculate square footage on a small addition we were working on, to get our insulation ordered. With the capability to measure distances from 2” to almost 66’, the LDM feature would be handy to electricians for close-up work, like marking out heights for receptacle or switch boxes.
I checked several measurements against a tape measure, and they were all spot on. The red dot that the laser puts out is pretty small, as is typical for LDMs. It was easy to spot indoors, much tougher outside in bright sunlight, which is also typical.
While using the LDM feature on the tester, it automatically powers down after 15 seconds of inactivity. This is likely a power-saving feature, as well as a way to assure the beam isn’t randomly shining out for several minutes. For slow old guys like me, though, it was a bit of an annoyance having to constantly turn it back on between writing down measurements. Other users, who can probably remember more than one measurement at a time, might not have this issue.
Does The Klein NCVT-6 Deserve To Make Contact With Your Toolbox?
If you’re looking to add an NCVT and an LDM to your tool collection, the Klein NCVT-6 Non-Contact Voltage Tester with Laser Distance Measure would be a good “kill two birds with one stone” solution. Note: We at HomeFixated are NOT advocating violence against birds. Except possibly seagulls. Just kidding.
The Klein NCVT-6 would be a handy item to have in your tool belt, whether you’re an electrician who occasionally needs to take a measurement, or a DIYer or other tradesperson who occasionally needs to see if a circuit is hot. The tool functions well in both voltage detection and measuring modes, and seems well built.
Priced around fifty bucks, getting the combo tool is likely cheaper than buying an NCVT and a comparable LDM separately. Klein backs the Klein NCVT-6 with a two-year warranty. If you buy it from the Home Depot, you get 90 days risk-free to make sure your electrical work is risk-free. Try one out, and experience the thrill of waking up without smoldering fingertips.
Buy the Klein NCVT-6 Non-Contact Voltage Tester with Laser Distance Measure for around $50 from the Home Depot or Amazon: