How to Test a Light Socket: A Step-by-Step Guide

It’s always a good idea to know how to test a light socket in an emergency. You may learn how to achieve it by following this step-by-step manual! You can test your light sockets quickly and easily in a few minutes. So don’t wait; use these guidelines to test a light socket immediately!

What Is a Light Socket

The light socket is the portion of a lamp or light post that the lightbulb goes into. Metal and plastic were used to make it.

How Does a Light Socket Work

The light socket has two contact points. A metal component at the base of the socket connects the lamp’s power supply cables.

This is a metal tab or welding that you can bend. The lightbulb is also held in place by a metal shell on the inner side of the light socket. This shell has either a screw thread or pinhole (second contact).

A light socket has three parts: a metal piece that conducts electricity, a plastic part, and a metal screw. If any of these are broken, the light socket won’t work. A multimeter is an amazing device for testing light sockets and diagnosing other electrical problems.

How to Use a Multimeter to Test a Light Socket

Measure AC voltage at 200 volts by setting the multimeter to that range. It is recommended that the black probe be placed on the light socket’s outer metal shell (where the light bulb screws or hooks into it) and that its red counterpart be placed on the metal tab on the inner bottom of the light socket. If everything goes smoothly, your multimeter will display a reading between 110 and 130.

Further instructions on how to proceed will be supplied.

Take Safety Measures

To test if your light socket works, you need current flowing through its circuit. This means that you need to take precautionary measures against shock hazards.

The most important thing is to wear insulated rubber gloves and ensure your hands or other body parts are not wet.

Prepare For Light Socket Test

With the light socket test, you’ll either discover that your socket is already disconnected from the lighting fixture or is still in the ceiling. Suppose your socket is still connected to the electrical wiring in the ceiling. In that case, it’s preferable to unplug it rather than putting out the power supply and detaching it.

To connect the wires to the light socket, find a power source to plug them into. This can be a power source separate from your home electrical system, as this is safer.

The most important thing is that the light socket has enough current to determine whether it works.

Confirm There Is Power Supply

voltage detector is an excellent tool to have. Contact the metal tab at the inner bottom of the socket with the voltage detector. There is a current in the socket if the light goes on. You can now make use of the multimeter.

Set The Multimeter To AC Voltage

Home appliances, including light bulbs, use an alternating current (AC voltage). This means you must turn your multimeter dial to the AC voltage setting represented by either “VAC” or “V~.”

To get accurate readings, set the meter to the 200VAC range. This is because light bulbs usually run on 120VAC, lower than other appliances.

Place The Multimeter Probes On Contact Points

The red probe is now placed on the metal tab that receives current from the wires. Make certain that none of these are touching. Then, you place the black probe on the light bulb’s metal casing.

Evaluate Results

The ideal current from the light socket for this test is 120VAC. However, reading between 110VAC and 130VAC still means that the light socket is in good condition.

Your reading is too high or too low if it falls outside this range. To resolve this, you may need to replace your light socket or confirm that your power supply is providing the correct voltage.

Testing for Continuity Within Light Socket

Another way to test whether your light socket is good is a continuity test. This test can help you determine if there is a short or open loop in the circuit.

It also helps you determine whether the problem comes from the light socket or the power source.

Disconnect Light Socket From Power Supply

You don’t need power running through the lamp socket to do the continuity test. Remove the lamp socket from the ceiling cables or any other power source.

Set Multimeter To Continuity Mode or Ohms

The continuity mode on your multimeter is ideal for this stage. If your multimeter lacks a continuity mode, the Ohms setting will suffice.

Place Probes On Contact Points

Put the multimeter probes on the various contact points in the light socket. Attach the black probe to the metal tab that receives current and place the red probe on top.

Evaluate Results

If the multimeter beeps or displays a number close to zero, the light socket is in good condition.

If the light socket does not beep or the reading is extremely high, the light socket is defective and must be replaced. These measurements indicate an open loop in the circuit.


You may have discovered the issue after conducting these two tests. If the lightbulb does not turn on the light socket, the bulb may need to be replaced.

Examine the socket for rust on the metal components. Soak a cloth or toothbrush in isopropyl alcohol to clean them.

Read more: Seeing the Light: When to Use a Smart Bulb, Switch or Plug

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Test a Light Socket

How Do I Know if My Light Fixture Has Power?

To test if a light fixture has power, touch the sensor tip of a non-contact voltage tester to each of the circuit wires. The circuit still has power if the tester lights up when touching wires.

Why Would a Light Socket Stop Work?

The most typical issue is a faulty switch wire connection. This occurs due to the switch being turned on and off frequently. Less frequently, the light bulb socket may fail. If this occurs, the socket must be replaced.

How Do You Test a Wired Light Fixture?

Take a cheap extension cord and cut the female end off. Strip the insulation from the two wires. Connect the two wires to the fixture in question. Set it on the ground and plug it in (without touching it). If it all lights up, you’re good to go!

What Has Power to Light Socket but No Light?

If the problem persists, turn off the switch and remove the bulb. Replace the bulb, then check whether the circuit breaker or fuse controls that fixture has tripped or blown. This is common when a light bulb burns out as soon as it is turned on.

How Do You Test a Light Switch With a Power On?

Turn the switch lever on and off while touching the continuity tester to one of the screw terminals. When the switch lever is turned on, the tester should light up but not light up when it is turned off.

How Do You Know if Your Light Socket Is Bad?

It can be problematic if your sockets are discolored. The sockets should be checked first. If you screw the bulbs in too tightly and press the contact, the socket will fail. To avoid this, I always switch the light when replacing a bulb and spin it till it lights.

Can a Light Socket Burn Out?

The bulb socket can also have worn or corroded contacts, which can cause problems with the connection. In this instance, you can either replace the socket or the fixture. Loose connections, whether at the socket or with the wire connections, can also burn out bulbs quickly and cause flickering.

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