Stud finders are invaluable when you need to locate a wooden beam behind drywall or other material, and there are lots and lots of options when it comes to stud finders. It’s important to consider all of your options and think about exactly what you’re going to be using the stud finder for. Here are the 9 best stud finders (magnetic And electric) in 2021.
There is also a LOT of difference in price between various stud finders, so it’s essential to know what you need it for and what sort of budget you have for this piece of equipment.
If you are in a hurry, here are our Top 5 Picks for the best stud finders, with our full review further down.
How Do Stud Finders Work?
Stud finders work by sensing the different densities of materials behind other materials. Because there is such a variety of products usually linked to their price, you can find stud finders that can detect all sorts of things.
Some of them can just detect metal a little way behind a wooden wall using a magnet while others can detect electrical current behind a foot of concrete.
Materials like wood are very POOR electrical conductors, they are in fact ‘insulators’ meaning they don’t conduct electricity at all. What they are good at, is supporting what’s called an ‘Electrostatic field’. So it’s good to understand what the best stud finder is to locate a wooden beam.
This is a type of electrical/static energy that the stud finder detects with a ‘Capacitor plate’. This detects changes in an electrostatic field, in this instance, the difference in density between plasterboard and a thicker and more dense wood (The stud).
What To Think About When Buying A Stud Finder
When buying a stud finder you need to consider what you’re going to be using it for. Specifically, think about whether you need it for precision work on important walls, or whether you’re just trying to hang a picture or drill a shelf into the wall.
Different jobs require different levels of precision. For example, if you’re going to be cutting a big hole in a wall in a commercial building that has electrical wires running all throughout the walls, you NEED to know where those wires are.
Why The Price Varies So Much
The reason the price varies so wildly with stud finders is that there are various levels of accuracy that you pay for. You get what you pay for in most things, stud finders are no different. If you want to be able to detect live wires at certain depths you’ll pay more for that feature.
Depth is another big factor here, the more you pay generally the further into a wall you can scan. You can also scan through more complicated or dense materials if you pay slightly more for better technology.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can get a super cheap magnetic stud finder that just uses magnets to locate screws or nails just below the surface of the wall.
The Best 10 Stud Finders In 2021
In no particular order here are the absolute best stud finders in 2021. The reason they’re not in order is that this is a list of the BEST stud finders for various different budgets and purposes. Make sure to read the pros and cons and think about what you need the stud finder for before making a decision.
The CH Hanson 03040 stud finder is a very good entry-level stud finder, it’s magnetic, meaning you don’t need to buy batteries for it or charge it, but on the other hand it can be a bit limited when locating studs through any significant or dense material.
Pros Of The CH Hanson
- It’s very cheap
- It’s effective at locating nails or screws
- It’s good value for money if you just need to find a screw or a nail behind a stud wall
- It’s very compact and lightweight
- Easily fits in your pocket
Cons Of The CH Hanson
- It can’t locate wooden beams
- It can’t locate live wires
- It’s limited in depth because there are no electrical sensors
This stud finder is a little more pricey but it can do that bit more. We’ve spoken about how as you increase the price of the stud finder you also increase the benefits and it’s the ability to sense things underneath more dense materials. This is a prime example of that.
The ProSensor can locate studs up to over a foot in depth. This makes it a very useful stud finder to have in your toolbox and it’s very affordable compared to the other models.
Pros Of The ProSensor
- Very affordable and easy to use
- Can scan several areas of the wall at the same time
- Can fit in a standard toolbox
- Identifies the width of objects as well as the location
Cons Of The ProSensor
- There have been reports of accuracy problems from some users
- It’s quite big compared to some other smaller models
- It requires batteries but they’re not included
This Zircon stud finder is a great middle-ground and it’s got some great features but at a fairly good cost. This makes it a perfect addition to your toolbox and it’s also more accurate than others in its price range. It can detect live wires as well as other metal and things like that making it a professional solution.
Pros Of The Zircon
- It can detect live wires and current using its WireWarning technology
- It can detect the edges of studs and the direction with great accuracy
- It can scan for types of metal and wood
Cons Of The Zircon
- Batteries aren’t included but are required
- Doesn’t have a very good LCD screen if you’re working outside in the sun
This particular Zircon stud finder seems to be very good as a middle-market product meaning it’s good and accurate but not AS accurate as other stud finders that are slightly more pricy. It can detect studs and perform its job well but it’s not going to give you as accurate a reading as a more pricey but more sensitive Zircon or other stud finders.
Pros Of This Zircon
- It has ‘Over The Stud’ technology to light up different colored bars to let you know exactly where the stud is and when you’re exactly over it
- Very affordable for the features it offers
Cons Of This Zircon
- Some comments about it not working according to the instructions (but still working overall)
- The battery isn’t included
This is actually a really nice product from Bosch. It feels more accurate after a few uses compared to the other stud finders we’ve spoken about so far and seems to be a good tool for finding studs and items below difficult to scan materials such as dense metals and strange wood combinations.
Pros Of The Bosch
- Lovely LCD display shows you exactly where the stud is and how deep
- It has an auto self-calibrating feature to help it detect things with greater accuracy
- Very nice size (small yet big enough to get a good grip on)
Cons Of The Bosch
- Slightly higher on the price range compare to similar models
This Franklin stud finder brings in a very superior level of accuracy and power. It has 13 sensors all working at the same time to give the most accurate reading and can visually display LED lights along the strip to show where the stud is.
This makes it much easier to use and visually very effective at showing where the stud is instant. This saves time as well because instead of moving your small stud finder across the wall you just lay this across the wall and cover more space in less time.
Pros Of The Franklin
- Can cover more space in less time
- 13 sensors give higher accuracy
- Can detect live wires
- Has a built-in bubble level
Cons Of The Franklin
- Slightly higher on the price range
- Can’t detect live wires (although the wires still light up as if they were studs, but it can’t tell the difference between a stud and a live wire)
This is a confident bit of kit. Their sales page explains how it can’t be calibrated because it never needs to be. It’s just accurate all of the time, right from the moment you get it out of the box and it can be used for years and years without issues.
It not only shows you where objects are but it can light up arrows on the screen and directions of nearby objects as well.
Pros Of The Bosch D-TECT 120
- Can detect a wide range of objects and shows the direction of nearby objects
- Very accurate and durable (useful if you keep all of your tools in the same toolbox)
- They claim you can ‘detect anything in anything’ (metal, concrete, wood, etc)
Cons Of The Bosch D-TECT 120
- Slightly expensive
The Bosch D-Tect 150 is perhaps the highest tech stud finder out there. It’s a jack of all trades, detecting any materials you could possibly imagine behind surfaces, including plastic and AC current, as well as distinguishing between them and giving a permitted drilling depth.
Pros Of The Bosch D-TECT 150
- Lets you know how deep you can drill before hitting something
- Accurate and durable
- Reads through concrete
Cons Of The Bosch D-TECT 150
- On the highest end of the pricing range for stud finders
Can You Find A Stud Without A Stud Finder?
You can find a stud without a stud finder but it won’t be anywhere near as accurate. For example, you can attach a magnet to a bit of string and swing it over the wall, where it ‘sticks’ is where there are metal nails or screws drilled into the ‘stud’ but it’s not as accurate as actually detecting where the wood is and where the edges are.
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