Receptacles Not Getting Full Power


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Why Do I Have 70 Volts on a 120 Volt Receptacle? How to Troubleshoot and Repair Outlet Problems, The Most Common Problem with Electric Outlets and How to Repair Them.


Problem with Outlet Receptacle

Electrical Question: Why Do I Have 70 Volts on a 120 Volt Receptacle?

I have receptacles that are not receiving full 120 Volts, they are averaging around 70 volts, and the neutral side is reading hot on these receptacles.

Background: Paul, a Student from Bremerton, Washington.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Paul.

How to Troubleshoot and Repair Outlet Problems

Application: Troubleshooting Outlets that Do Not Work.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Testers and Meters.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any wiring or inspections.
Important: Electrical troubleshooting is best performed by a qualified licensed electrical contractor.

The Most Common Problem with Electric Outlets and How to Repair Them

Troubleshooting Guidelines and Examples:
When Wall Outlets and Receptacles Do Not Work, or They Do Not Have Full Power and the Voltage is Not Normal:

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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

11 Responses to “Receptacles Not Getting Full Power”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi John,
    If the reading of 203 volts is correct then the electrical system at your location may be 120/208volts, 3 phase. The electrical system voltage information may be identified by observing the equipment label on the electrical breaker panel which is supplying the outlet circuit power. If it is found that the circuit voltage is different than the voltage requirements for the machine then it may be necessary to have a transformer installed to correct the voltage. Make sure to check the equipment voltage on the machine because in many cases the machine wiring configuration may be adjusted for different voltages, however this will depend on the specific machine that you have. Consulting the installation and owners manual will provide specific information which will assist you as well.
    Dave

  2. John says:

    We have a bakery machine that requires a 20amp 240 volt circuit. We checked the outlet with a meter and it reads that it only gets 203volts. Is this going to translate as a loss of power to the machine?

    Thanks,
    John Chambers

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Darren,
    We need to understand what the normal voltage should be so we know how far off the voltage is. It would be essential to have the electrical utility provider verify that the voltage on there side is within tolerance.
    Because you have mentioned that this is happening at work, then this could be a commercial or industrial facility that may have voltages other than 120/240. If the circuit breaker is reading 198 volts then the panel voltage should be tested, and if the panel voltage is low then the power source for the panel needs to be tested. If there is a transformer supplying power to the panel then the transformer may need to be tapped differently to provide more voltage.
    I hope this helps,
    Dave

  4. Darren Kolb says:

    Our oven at work is only getting 198volts. The oven takes forever to heat up. The power at the breaker also reads 198volts. It is a 50amp breaker. Can you give me some tips.

  5. Josh says:

    No Neutral connection.

  6. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Cory,
    Yes, 122.6 volts from a wall receptacle is within the USA tolerance levels for a 120 volt circuit.

  7. cory says:

    I get 122.6 volts out of my wall socket, is that normal?

  8. robert says:

    Here’s a hint about low power at recepticle or doing any DIY electrical work: Write down on paper everything you move, remove, or adjust at the breaker box. I (apparently) removed the white wire from the ‘ground’ in a circuit to my garage outlets. I kept focusing on the breakers which I thought may have gone bad and in the process disconnected the white wire. There was a GFI that was no longer being used and I disconnected it and the good white wire. The was no way I could blame my wife but I took a few minutes to at least try.
    This site saved me from having to pay someone which is admitting defeat which means I can go to my wife and look up into the sky and simply say: “Genius”.
    Thank You

  9. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Jim,
    It appears that the outlet circuit may have lost connection with the neutral, so the circuit wiring and connections will need to be examined to identify the problem. typically this involves turning the circuit OFF and inspecting each outlet for a burnt wiring splice or a faulty connection. This will require proper repairs and in many cases replacing an outlet that may be affected due to a burnt wire connection.
    Dave

  10. jim says:

    When I test outlets in a room that has no power I put both tester probes in the outlet and I get a reading of 1.7 – 1.3 volts. When I test with one probe in the outlet and one on the ground it reads 122- 124 volts. All the outlets in the room are out. Where should I look to find the problem?

Thanks for Visiting

I hope this helps you with your Home Electrical Wiring!