Need help with a service panel question

Working my way through the course to get certified…Hello all from Fl! Anyway, working on my residential electric course section, I went out to my panel and touched it with my arc pen as suggested. I then just wanted to check other things on started touching each breaker with the pen. As I worked my way through them they all tested neg (-) until I touched the top two on the right side of the panel which lit up (+). Thinking may be an issue with my pen just kept testing things but each time those two breakers lit up. So, I decided to take the panel cover off and make sure I didn’t find anything unusual. All the wiring looked fine, no double taps or anything and I checked each connection with the pen which was fine. Again, put the pen on top two. Thinking the breaker wasn’t connected well pulled it and pushed it back on. I then rechecked and still lit up but now all the breakers on the right side lit up when touched with the pen. What would cause this, I’m just curious? Could the right side bus be loose and maybe not bonded to the panel all that well ?

Thanks, Tom

Tom, often those voltage testers will give a false positive which could be your issue.

Oh, and welcome to our forum, Tom!..Enjoy! :smile:

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Forgot to mention, went to my neighbors and borrowed their pens thinking mine may be malfunctioning and did the same with theirs.

Get a better multi-tester. Not a pen to verify with.


Will do!


Higher electric field. Look up how those noncontact “voltage” detectors work. BTW, why do you call it an arc pen? where is the arc’ing? Knowing how a tool works makes all the difference. Anyone can buy one, not everyone will learn how to use it properly.

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Here’s a good thread on voltage ‘sniffers’. fourth post I put a link to understanding how they work.

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Sorry, old habit. AC voltage detector.