Top 8 Best Stud Finders – Magnetic & Electronic Models Compared
Best Stud Finders and Reviews
Whether your hanging a heavy mirror on the wall, putting up shelves or even hanging new lights on the ceiling, you have to rely on some kind of knowledge to ensure the fixtures/fasteners are firmly set in the studs, joists or beams.
If your house is covered in drywall, you want to be very careful so as not to screw into the wrong area and miss the studs, or worst, damage electrical wires, gas or water pipes or worst, cause injury to yourself.
To solve this problem you can employ the service of a little gadget called a stud finder. It will provide you with accurate positioning to ensure you hit the stud every time and miss anything you need to avoid.
The stud finder made its debut to the world around the 20 century. The first models were purely magnetic and relied on sensing fastenings within the studs. The first electric stud was introduced to the world in 1977. It worked through noticing different densities of material.
Modern stud finders by manufactures such as Bosch, CH Hanson, Zircon and Silverline can pick up different kinds of material and locate studs with more accuracy.
The problem is the market is flooded with different brands with a range of features which makes finding a suitable stud finder more difficult.
After over 30 hours of research and looking at over 25 models from different brands we have discovered what we think at the Top 8 Models worth considering, they range in price from a just under £10 for basic but reliable magnetic model to the latest electric stud finder for just under £100.
After our in depth research we came to the conclusion that the 'Zircon i700 Multi Scanner' was the best choice for most people, both home users and professionals. It has all the features of more expensive models such as Bosch but comes at a very affordable price and more importantly is fairly accurate and detects wood studs, metals studs and electrical wiring.
Stud Finder Buyer's Guide
Looking for a suitable stud finder can prove to be frustrating especially if you do not understand what they do. If you understand what function they are meant to fulfil, you will understand what to look for. A high-performance stud finder will detect studs through basic materials. These stud finders if used correctly are very reliable and accurate to ensure you find the stud everytime and avoid wires and pipes hidden in the wall.
Here are the characteristics that you need to look at and compare to pick out the best.
Type's of stud finder
There are two main forms of stud finders that are available on the market. The two major categories are magnetic stud finders and electric stud finders.
Magnetic finders are the originators of stud findings. Magnetic stud finders are still relied upon today as they can be very accurate. Magnetic stud finders work by detecting nearby metallic objects. They are disadvantaged when it comes to detecting studs that are made from non-metallic materials. These are very popular with the CH Hanson Stud Finder probably being one of the most popular stud finders sold in the UK.
Electric stud finders, on the other hand, work by sensing the notable differences in building material densities. In other words, they look for small changes in the stable dielectric constant. Under the electric stud finders, you find some more distinctions. We have centre finders, edge finders, and instant finders. Depending on what you are looking for, you can select accordingly. These electric stud finders rely on batteries while magnetic based finders do not need batteries.
There are more emergent stud finders that are defined by their special features. We have stud finders that rely on 3D and radar technology. There are brands in the market that have combined both the magnetic and electric functions. This, in turn, produces a more precise location.
When speaking of durability, we shall look at the general construct of the material and battery life for electronic stud finders. The general construct of the stud finder is crucial since they tend to be dropped often. The material and the component of the stud finder must be made of high-quality materials. Durable material can take a few falls without breaking or displacing any parts.
Battery life determines how long you can use this tool. If you are leaning on cheap batteries, I'm afraid you are setting up yourself for failure. Good quality materials make certain that you have enough running time to execute exactly what you wanted. Lithium ion batteries are the best, they are compact and they are easily rechargeable.
Materials to be scanned through
The material and thickness of the surface you want to scan will determine the stud finder you want to purchase. There are stud finders that can scan various materials and some that are specialised.
These stud finders also differ in range. There are those that can scan deeper into walls and those which scan for surface objects. If you are looking to avoid wires, it is important to be on the look out for models that can facilitate this. You can look for wires, studs, pipes and other things.
Consider the size and weight
There are models that can fit in your pocket and models that are for commercial use. The size differs due to different features and functions. Most of the stud finders are lightweight. They can easily be moved and used whenever needed. The bigger models have more features and cost a bit more than the others. The wider the range the more likely the size will also be big. DIY lovers often use the smaller pocket size versions. They are least complicated and can do the job just fine.
Ease of use
The ease of use of a product is related to how simple it is to use. The feature has to be flexible and uncomplicated. Most stud finders have LED supported screen for better visibility. There are models that have fewer buttons and a simpler interface. This is just to make them easy for everyone to use. Backlit screens offer information that you need. It displays the possible location, signal strength, battery charge, among other things.
There are models that have additional audio settings to notify you when you find a stud or something alarming. Colour coordinated indicators also come conveniently in models that lack displays. This small thing makes a huge difference so be careful.
Price of stud finder
The price you pay for a stud finder will depend on the function you are going to accomplish and your budget. if you are looking for one that will take care of light weight duties and are magnetic, they will not cost you much. The lower priced stud finders offer you basic features. Remember the more the features, the more the likelihood that the price will be considerably more expensive. Commercial stud finders are more reliable but cost upwards of £60 to £100.
TOP 8 STUD FINDER REVIEWS
Zircon i700 Multi-Scanner Review
**OUR BEST PICK**
- Effectively finds wooden or metal studs up to 38mm (1.5") deep
- It can detect wood studs, metal studs, and AC wiring.
- Can detect the edges and centre of studs.
- It has a bright display with an inbuilt marker for better directions.
- It comes with a signal strength indicator and an audio supported indicator for better accuracy.
- Comes complete with a DVD on how to operate the stud finder.
The Zircon i700 Multi-scanner is a high-quality reliable stud finder designed for both professional and home use.
It can identify different materials such as metal, wood, AC wiring hidden behind ceilings, walls and floors. Since your house is made up of different components, you want a stud finder that can sense various materials.
The Zircon i700 is such device and is very easy to calibrate and use.
The model also comes with a display that displays all the important information. It will tell you where the centre of the stud is as well as the edges, it also has an audio feature and visual feature. The Zircon i700 Multi-scanner has a backlit screen that can display the relevant information even in dimly lit areas.
It also comes with an inbuilt marker, this is sufficient support when you do not have a marker at hand. The marker is accurate and can be erased whenever needed. You can sense when you have found what you are looking for through the indicators. The signal indicator will be full when you are on target and will notify you of the centre. The audio indicators will also go off. Instead of a lengthy manual, they decided to use a DVD and simple instructions. This way we can get the information quicker and often its easier to learn to use a tool watching someone else using it rather than reading complicated manuals.
- They can prove challenging to provide accurate results in textured and uneven surfaces. It also lacks a storage box or bag to protect it when not in use.
Would we recommend - The Zircon i700 Multi-scanner can scan stud walls, coppers pipes, electrical wires and even plastic pipes making it a very effective stud finder.
Overall this model is one of the best model we have ever reivewed and at under £80 it;s not the cheapest model on the market but it is a fantastic piece of kit.
We like the incorporated pencil marker idea which is useful, the only downside it that all though it fairly robust, we would not want it getting knocked about the tool box so a case would be a nice addition.
Overall this model was faultless and had all the features a professional tradesmen would need, because of its overall performance, reliability and and affordability, this model was awarded our 'Best Pick' and is a real gem.
CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder Review
**BEST MAGNETIC MODEL AND LOW COST OPTION**
- Compact size so will easily fit in a pocket on the job.
- Very strong magnets locate stud so you can work hands-free.
- It comes ergonomically designed for comfortable grip.
- It comes with a two-step marking mechanism and bubble level.
The CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder is a super easy to use small sized magnetic stud finder. As magnetic stud finders go, they can only identify magnetic materials, this means it locates nails or screws in the wall so you can locate the stud which they are obviously screwed into.
The fact that it can fit in the pocket makes it very convenient for those who do not want to spend a lot of money. They are adequate for small DIY jobs around the home.
It employs the use of strong magnets to sense where the metal studs or metal fastenings are. They are limited to the kind of material that they can scan for.
Since you might be holding this product for a while, you do not want any edges sticking out and poking you. You want a shape and design that can easily be handled by any size of a hand.
To mark the surface that you are working with, the CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder has a two-system for marking your surface. This makes sure that the aim is accurate. These magnetic stud finders have no need for batteries which keeps them simple and low maintenance.
It is a little small so handle with care as you can easily step on it and break it.
- It is limited only to sensing metallic studs. It is unable to pick up on other materials or pick up on hot wires. It lacks a display monitor to a more precise location. Overall though it does a great job, would be better with a small case for a little protection.
Would we recommend - The CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder is a neat magnetic finder which overall does a fantastic job.
What we love about this product are its portability and affordable price. It is more than sufficient for for most home owners putting up shelves, hanging mirrors, fitting a new flat screen tv to the wall, amongst many other similar jobs.
It does have its limitations, however it does do a great job if used correctly, it lacks the advanced features of more expensive models, however it is only a studd finder, now a locator for finding wires, pipes etc.
If you got a few jobs around the house to do, this is probably all you need and at less than a tenner, won't break the bank. Great value.
Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner Review
**BEST FOR SCANNING MULTI TYPES - WOOD, METAL, LIVE WIRES**
- Features multi-modes that can detect different kinds of materials with ease.
- Locates wood studs, AC wiring, metal including rebar, copper and steel pipes.
- Powered by a 9V batteries that give adequate longer running times.
- It comes with automatic re-calibration for ease of use and accurate results and has a audibly supported signal search.
- Colour coded system to indicate how far you are from the stud.
- It comes with an automatic centre positioning and comes with an ergonomic design for comfort.
The Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner can detect studs made from various materials making it perfect for a range of tasks. It can sense wood studs, metal, copper pipes, live wiring and even rebar up to 4-3/4-Inch (120mm) deep into concrete . This is a true professional multi-purpose stud.
It can be used in different modes depending on the material that you are working with. As stated before, there are stud finders that are more adapted to specific materials. And others that can pick up different materials. The ones that can pick up many different materials will serve more value for your money if you get to use the different functions as most professionals probably would. This will also save you the time and frustration of purchasing different stud finders for different materials.
This stud finder operates on a 9v battery and will provide you with adequate energy to scan for hours if needed.
The Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner can recalibrate on its own which is an added bonus as it makes working accurately much easier. You can use this on any surface without the fear of inaccurate results. Inaccurate results can amount to unforeseen injuries and unprecedented bills which we all want to avoid.
We like the fact that apart from automatic calibration, it has an audible search support. This audio will indicate if you are getting closer to a stud or a live wires. In the case that you have poor eyesight, the audio support will help you locate where the stud is.
To aid you in locating a stud, the Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner employs a colour coded system. This colour coding will vary according to the distance away from the stud. This is a feature that is handy especially in regard to those with poor eyesight. It can also automatically locate the centre of a stud. This central positioning is an added bonus. The display will show you the status of the stud finder and the location of the stud.
- It can be difficult to get an accurate reading since it can easily be affected by other electronic signals. Our advice is to turn off wifi as they has been known to effect its use.
Would we recommend - The Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner is a top end product that can be noted by its price.
We love the fact that they have included different mechanisms to indicate when you are in the right place for better accuracy, something cheaper models don't have which makes them less reliable.
It has a compact design, it can scan through 120mm of concrete and 80mm in copper which is also pretty impressive when compared to cheaper models.
Overall a great model from a brand we have come to trust, the Illuminated graphical LCD display? is also very well designed and is easy to read.
A great product that it worth considering if your'e looking for a more advanced multi-purpose model.
Zircon Stud Sensor e50 Electronic Stud Finder Review
**GREAT VALUE AT UNDER £30**
- Scans walls, floors and ceiling and locates the edge of wood and metal studs..
- Locates different types of studs made of metal or wood up to 19 mm thick and 38 mm deep using DeepScan mode.
- Features WireWarning detection to detect live wires up to 51mm deep.
- It comes with an easy to display area for easy reading and an indicator to tell you when you find a stud.
- Uses SpotLite Pointer to indicate the marker on the wall using a arrow light on the wall.
- Easy to calibrate and it indicates when the calibration is done.
- Powered by a 9V batteries (not included).
- Lightweight and ergonomically designed with a pinch-grip.
The Zircon Stud Sensor e50 Electronic Stud Finder is a lightweight affordable electric stud finder with live wire detection.
It can be put in any storage compartment thanks to its compact size, like most of the electronic stud finders in this review, it can detect both metal and wood studs, it is also also warn of hidden live electrical wires up to 51mm deep.
It has a well-lit display screen where all the relevant information is displayed. When you find a stud or joist you can easily work around it or drill into the right place.
It has two modes that you can select from, deep scan which can scan up to 38 mm and standard stud scan which works to a depth of 19mm. You can quickly switch between the two depending on what you are scanning and how deep you need to go.
This stud finder has a compact and attractive design. Since it is small, it can easily get lost easly. For this reason It also has a bright yellow colour and comfortable handling thanks to Zircons patent-pending pinch grip design.
All these features come at a pocket-friendly price. If it is well managed, it can serve you in your home. Just to recap It can scan through 19mm of material as stud finder and 38mm when in DeepScan mode. When you hit those live wires, you will be notified by the indicator to avoid any unforeseen problems.
- After hours research we found numerous reviews and comments in regards to its accuracy being hit and miss. However we also noted lots of reviews stating the accuracy was fine and it worked as expected.
Would we recommend - The Zircon Stud Sensor e50 Electronic Stud Finder is an okay stud finder that would be find for home use.
We love the fact that it is economically priced compared to some models in this review being less than half price of Bosch model we have reviewed. It offers you the basic functions of a stud finder without too many complexities making it ideal for non professionals..
The indicator is very accurate once the right calibration is undertaken. It does not take up too much space and its reach is limited. Compared to the Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner, its reach leaves more room for improvement.
Overall not a bad product for home use and does get he job done without to much effort thanks to it red marker and easy to read screen display.
If you have the budget we would recommend spending more and investing in our 'Best Pick' the Zircon i700 from the same company as its far better and more reliable. However this is the next best alternative at under £30 making it a great budget pick.
Bosch PMD 10 Multi –Detector Review
**ALSO GREAT, SIMPLE DESIGN**
- It can detect different materials namely wood, AC wires, non-ferrous metal and steel.
- It has a colour coded LED indicator and audio warning to show you if it is safe to drill, drill at your own risk or do not drill metal or AC wires detected.
- It comes with an automatic calibration for precise readings on different materials.
- The screen is well lit so that you can access the relevant information with ease even in dimly lit areas.
- Maxium scan depth of 100mm for steel, 80mm for non ferrous metal, 25mm for wood and 50mm for AC wires.
The Bosch PMD 10 Multi-Detector can scan through various materials like some of the best models in the market. It can scan through 80mm of non-ferrous materials,10mm through steel reinforcements, 25mm through wood and 50mm through live wires. This range is acceptable and can cover the thickness of most surfaces.
To make sure that you are aware of where to drill or not, the stud finder has a colour coded indicator system which uses 3 coloured LED. It shows different colours depending on the stud location. We see the trend of using colour coded indicators in tools. This is for better visibility and timely actions.it saves on time since it is accurate. Green means safe to drill, amber means drill at own risk if your sure its safe to do so and red means do not drill.
The fact that some brands lack displays can be unbelievable at times. The Bosch PMD 10 Multi-Detector made sure that you had access to a screen. The screen displays all the information you would need to successfully access a stud. You have information that would save you from potentially drilling in the wrong place.
The risk of running into live wires should not be overlooked. That is why such measures were employed to manage the situation. This model has the ability to self-calibrate. This automatic calibration saves you time, frustrations and ensures accuracy at all times.
This model uses a 9v battery, so make sure that you have a spare on hand just in case. Finally it has a comfortable handle so you do not have to worry about straining your hand.
- The model is over sensitive. This may cause it to pick up on wrong readings at times.
Would we recommend - The Bosch PMD 10 Multi-Detector is a heavy one compared to the others. Clearly, the size of the stud finder contributes to its price.
This tool has range and reach. It can scan deeper than some of the stud finders featured in this review. The screen is sizeable enough. We just wish that the sensor did not pick up false readings. Otherwise, it is a good product to have around and overall is not to expensive, specially when compared to some models.
A great Multi Detector at a great price.
Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector Review
**PERFECT FOR FINDING PIPES & WIRES BUT NOT FOR FINDING STUDS**
- ?Perfect for home use and DIY enthusiast to find out where it would not be advised to drill because of the risk if hitting pipes or wires.
- For ease of use, it comes with a one-button operation system.
- It comes with a fluctuating audio indicator to indicate when indicates the presence of copper pipes, steel or live wires.
- Powered by 3 x 1.5V for maximum performance
- It can detect live wires and metal objects in your walls and ceilings
- It has automated calibration and an ergonomic design for better handling
The Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector is about as simple as they get but it used to decided where not to drill rather than finding wooden studs.
The interface is so simple to use that a child can manoeuvre with it with ease. The one-button operation system lets you access different functions from one button.
You use this button to facilitate scanning. This scanning will indicate the results by audio and a LED traffic light system when it locates metal, copper pipes or live wires.
It is designed to offer different levels of sound depending on how close you are to the item. That fluctuating noise is the indication you will have to go by since it does not have a display except for the traffic light system.
What lets this model down is that it cannot scan wood. It can only pick up on live wires and metal objects. What this means is that is that it is designed to alert you of where not to drill.
It can scan up to 70mm to detect steel, 60mm for copper, and 50mm for live wires. This is inconvenient if you are looking to specifically locate the wooden studs in your building. Like we said before, the more functions there are, the more value for money you get. It does quickly calibrates itself when you switch the device on.
- It cannot scan and locate wood studs and lacks a LCD screen.
Would we recommend - The Bosch Truvo Digital Multi-Detector is a unique one. It solely relies on sound and a LED traffic light system to locate any metals or live wiring in the wall.
It has a lower running time compared to the rest but it is usable. It can be used in houses where piping may be hard to find, this would come in handy when drilling into tiles.
It is some what limited since it cannot scan and find wood. Otherwise, it is a perfectly good product for all types of jobs.
It cannot really be compared to the Bosch PMD 10 Multi-Detector or the Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner but it would suffice for home use and comes at a pocket-friendly price. If your trying to locate wood studs, this will not be suitable, other than this does a fairly good job and avoiding pipes and wires etc.
Silverline 288659 3-in-1 Detector Review
**A GREAT DETECTOR AT UNDER £15**
- It can detect various materials namely metal, live wires and timber.
- For accurate positioning, it comes designed with audio and light indicators.
- It comes with a compact and durable design.
- It relies on 9V battery for maximum performance.
The Silverline 288659 3-in-1 Detector can scan through the three basic materials that have been in mention since the beginning of this review. These materials are namely wood, metal, joists and a live wires. This is to make sure that you do not damage any wires or cause unnecessary damages to your walls.
Its design is so compact that you might forget it as you go about your jobs. However, this size is convenient for out of the house work situations. It is portable. To indicate that you have found the right stud or live wire, the Silver line 288659 3-in-1 Detector uses audio identification and a LED guide. This audio identification gets louder the closer you move towards the target. We prefer models with detailed displays, but sometimes you have to work with what you have.
It are not weather resistant so treat it with care. The design will give you an easy time handling it. It doesn't cost much which can be reflected by the number of features available. It comes with its own calibration mechanism.
- It lacks a LED display for accurate positioning.
Would we recommend - The Silverline 288659 3-in-1 Detector is among the simplest to use. Its interface does not provide you with all the relevant information that you need.
Remember that the features are directly proportional to the price. If you need a better model, you can settle for the Bosch PMD 10 Multi-Detector but at an extra cost. If the function suites you just fine, you can settle for this.
A great affordable option but a limited in terms of features.
FOLAI Electronic Stud Sensor Review
**AMAZING BUDGET PICK AT UNDER £20**
- It comes with a compact design supported by a LCD lit screen display that indicates all the relevant information as well as audio indicators.
- It also comes able to scan and locate the edge and centre of metal studs and joist, metal, live wires and wood materials.
- It has the capability of providing varied edge positions.
- It comes with a 30 day money back guarantee and a 1-year warranty with lifetime support.
- Ergonomic design for ease of use.
The FOLAI Electronic Stud Sensor comes in a compact design that can be handled by any size of hands. To indicate the immediate direction that you are working with, this model uses two systems. It uses the display to indicate the position of the stud. The other system that has been employed is the audio system.
The functions of this product can sense metal, hot wires and wood. It can effectively scan through 38mm of metal, 76mm of steel rebar and 76mm of AC wiring. This is enough reach to get accurate readings in different housing situations.
The Electronic Stud Sensor by FOLAI also has a well illuminated and sizable display. This display is simply arranged so that you can locate everything accurately. It is ergonomically designed, this means that whether you have small or large hands, you are able to effectively handle it.
To calibrate this stud finder involves a flat surface. Once it has received calibration which only takes a couple of seconds, it is ready to use.
It comes with eye catching colours which make them hard to lose.
The one year warranty will come in handy if the stud finder develops faults.
- It is vulnerable to signal interruption which may be the reason for the inaccurate readings.
Would we recommend - The FOLAI Electronic Stud Sensor is a good choice for those who are looking for lots of features for a low price, usually this is hard to find but Folai seem to have pulled this off.
The design is attractive and comfortable to handle and use. This is always an advantage. For its price range, it offers proficient features without expecting too much.
Scanning depth is also a little restricted but it more than adequate for most home domestic use.
At under £20 you will struggle to find better value for money, not a name we have heard of before but the 1 year warranty gives us some confidence in its reliability.
Finals thoughts and conclusion
As we have established, stud finders can be tricky to purchase as there features can vary from finding wooden studs to just locating objects such as copper pipe and AC wiring which you need to avoid, one that does everything is going to be he best option and we have discovered there is plenty of choice in nearly every price range possible.
Their differences are little but they make all the difference depending on what job you plan on purchasing it for. To select the right stud finder
it is crucial that the methods of indication be clear and the functions to be diverse.
Our Best Pick
After intensive introspection into the different stud finders available. We came to the ultimate conclusion that the Zircon i700 Multi-scanner was our best stuf finder.
It comes with an affordable price and a multi-purpose range of features. These features make working with this model a breeze. It can manage accurate readings and comes with a watchable manual which no other model does.
We think that it will satisfy most of your needs and would be the best choice for most people both home users and professionals.
Hands down one of the best models we have ever seen.
Our Best Magnetic Stud Finder
We decided that this title should go to The CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder. The reason for this is that it is inexpensive yet still very reliable and pocket-sized.
You can carry it wherever you want to go. The design is eye catching and it is hard to lose them. The magnets are strong and sufficient to provide wide reach. It is a product worth having around for locating studs.
Our Best Multi Purpose Electric Stud Finder
This title goes to the Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner. This top end product can efficiently satisfy all your stud finding needs.
It offers auditory and visual assistance. You can rely on this product to scan through concrete up to 120mm which mot other models are simply not capable of doing.
We love the fact that it has a compact design and that it is durable.
If your looking for a top of the line model to do everything from scanning to locate studs to locating coppers pipes or AC wires, this is the most for you.
Overall a great product that any professional should consider.?
We hope that this has been a very enlightening session for you. We hope that the selection of finding the best stud finder does not seem so daunting.
There are the basic characteristics that you need to look out for. Other than that, you are good to go. If we have left out valuable information you are welcome to leave us a comment below. Thank you for reading and we hope we have helped you make a better buying decision.