Similar to this question, but I'm asking specifically about bare wires, with no socket. I don't want to flip a breaker switch, or blow a fuse.

How can I test for a current in the cable(s) without a dedicated meter?

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    What kind of current are you expecting? If you don't know, you really just shouldn't be doing this without proper equipment. – fredley Dec 10 '14 at 20:48
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    Yeah, don't do this. – fredley Dec 10 '14 at 21:11
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    You should include the situation in which the wires are found. Is it in your home? Outside? Do you have control over the breaker? – Zach Saucier Dec 12 '14 at 14:23
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because any hack is inherently unsafe. Go to the store and get the proper equipment. – Jon Mar 18 '15 at 1:39
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    @Jon This question was kinda meant as a test question in the early days of the site. It has already been closed, reopened, closed again, reopened, Deleted by Shog, undeleted, etc. Personally, I'd like to simply close/lock/delete it. – J. Musser Mar 18 '15 at 1:45

Maybe use this.


image source

It glows when current is present. That way you won't have to touch the wire.

However, as stated by everybody, be careful.

  • What is the name of this device? – Mooseman Mar 18 '15 at 14:13
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    Electric tester . ( as they call it in India, Asia). – Abhishek Tripathi Mar 18 '15 at 14:30

Theoretically, you could take a lightbulb (or nightlight, phone charger, etc.) and touch the wires to the bulb base or plug.


This would be EXTREMELY dangerous: you could die from the electrical shock. Even experienced electricians and crazy people don't do such a thing!

In conclusion

This is one reason there are breaker switches: so you can safely work on wiring, etc. without dying.

To answer your original question with a good and safe idea: Don't do it! Use the proper equipment.

  • This answer could be improved by explaining what exactly the danger is and why it's so dangerous. – starsplusplus Dec 10 '14 at 23:48
  • @starsplusplus I added : you could die from the electrical shock – Mooseman Dec 11 '14 at 1:28
  • Excuse my electrical ignorance, but how do you get electrocuted if you're holding the bulb and not touching the wire? – starsplusplus Dec 11 '14 at 8:44
  • Why do you ask that? The dangerous part is handling the live, uninsulated wires. – Mooseman Dec 11 '14 at 12:26
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    Rubber gloves do negate most of the danger though. Insulated tools help if you don't have gloves. However, given the sketchy question, this answer is probably spot on. – Mast Mar 17 '15 at 14:38

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