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Place Name Characteristic in the rating
The best hidden wire tester detectors
one Mastech MS8902B Best quality
2 Phase GK51 The simplest device
3 STAYER Master Top Electro Deep scan
four LA-1013 CEM Instruments Professional instrument with amplifier
5 NWS 819-4 The widest range of detectable currents
The best hidden wire detectors with positioning
one Bosch GMS 120 Professional The best choice
2 Mastech MS6818 Maximum information content
3 Multi Stud Finder A simple device without unnecessary options
four ADA instruments Wall Scanner 80 Best Tree Detector
5 Practice Expert DU-100 M Informative display

A hidden wire detector is a tool that can find wires and other elements in the wall. There are two types of detectors:

  1. tester, that is, reacting to the presence of a phase in the network at a distance;
  2. and pinpointers, that is, metal detectors that detect the presence of wires, regardless of whether they have voltage or not.

Detectors from the second category are, in fact, metal detectors, but with a limited range. They determine the location of metal elements, and are also able to determine their type. Some tools can also detect wood. Unlike full-fledged metal detectors, detectors have a small search depth. Most often, it is limited to five centimeters, but they are able to determine the location of the wire with an accuracy of up to a centimeter.

Test indicators have the same characteristics as conventional indicators, with the only difference being that they find their phase at depth. They cannot determine the location of the wire with accuracy, but they are much cheaper than pinpointers. Also, testers do not distinguish between the type of metal, and if voltage is not applied to the wire, then it will not be detected at all. When choosing a wire detector, you should pay attention first of all to the search depth and positioning accuracy. But manufacturers often overestimate this parameter, and in order to find the really best device at the most attractive price, you need to carefully study our rating, which includes the 10 most interesting options.

The best hidden wire tester detectors

Tester detectors determine the hidden wiring in the wall by the presence of a current phase in it. If the wire goes to ground, the indicator will not detect it, as in the case of no current. This tool is used more often not to search for wires in the wall, but to determine the location of wiring damage. If the current starts to be lost, the signal of the tool will become weaker and completely disappears in the absence of a phase. Thanks to this device, you do not have to completely pull the wiring out of the wall in search of a fault.

Kraftool GMS 120

Kraftool GMS 120 is a universal detector for detecting hidden wiring, ferrous and non-ferrous metals and wood in walls. And this device copes with its task perfectly, very accurately determining the location of hidden objects in the walls. The maximum depth of detection of ferrous metals reaches 12 cm, non-ferrous – 8 cm, wiring – 5 cm, and wood – 2 cm.

The functionality of the device provides an option for automatic calibration and an automatic shutdown function to save battery power.

Management is extremely simple and is carried out using 3 buttons. The device will notify you about the detection of hidden objects by sound and digital indication, as well as a message on the screen.

By itself, the Kraftool GMS 120 is quite compact and assembled with high quality. Included with it you will receive a case for easy storage and transportation, as well as a cord that is attached to the case for easy carrying of the device on your hand.

Those who have already tested this detector in action speak positively about it, noting the high detection accuracy and low cost. So that. If you need an inexpensive detector that can find wires, metals and wood at great depths, then you should pay attention to this model.

  • Magnetic metals: up to 120 mm.
  • Non-magnetic metals: up to 80 mm.
  • Electric wire: up to 50 mm.
  • Wood in drywall: up to 20 mm.
  • Power supply: batteries.
  • Auto power off.

The best hidden wire detectors with positioning

Not always, the wiring that needs to be found in the wall is energized. A tester indicator is not suitable in this case, and only a positioning tool can cope with the task, which not only finds metals in the wall, but distinguishes them from each other. It is impossible to confuse a nail and a cable with such a device, moreover, they often have a tree search function, which is very convenient if you need to find a bar under the finish to hammer any fasteners into it. Such devices are more expensive than testers, but there are also quite budget models, albeit with limited functionality.

What to look for when choosing

Before reading this rating, you should clarify which criteria should be paid closer attention to. From a wide list of device characteristics, you should be primarily interested in the following:

  • discovered materials. Most of the models presented in the rating are able to detect electrical wiring, metal fittings, a wooden beam of a crate or other frame. Some can “find” plastic (water and sewer pipes).
  • Depth. In this case, everything is extremely simple – the technical characteristics of each model indicate the limit values ​​within which it can detect certain materials. In this case, it is recommended to purchase a device with a so-called “deep” margin.
  • Autocalibration. This implies automatic adjustment of the sensor for certain operating conditions. Detectors belonging to the budget and average price range require mandatory auto-calibration. For professional options, such actions are not performed, since their principle of operation is completely different.

Checking work

In order to accurately locate hidden wires, you should first learn how to use the indicator. To do this, you need to try to work with it on open wires, pipes, and other elements. This will help you understand when and to what objects the device sends a signal.

Before making a purchase, you should test the indicator in the store. Any electrical appliance will work for this. You can use its wire for testing. You need to test the device at different distances. The wire can be covered with a board, some plastic object. If the detection was successful, then you can safely buy the indicator you like.

Summary table of technical characteristics of wiring scanners

For clarity, I picked up those performance characteristics that are more important for the operation of the home master and summarized them in a table.

I understand that the choice is still influenced by the cost of the device and the conditions for its acquisition. However, price is a variable. You can find it if you enter the name of the device and the word buy into Google or Yandex.

The search engine will give you many options from which you can choose the best option.

Concealed wire detector brand BOn3 SCH GMS 120 Professional MASTECH MS6906 UNI-T UT387B Woodpecker E121 Floureon hidden wiring detector Skil detector 550 ADA Wall Scanner 80
Weight, kg 0.27 0.25 0.195 0.12
Detects materials Wood, metal, wiring Wood, metal, wiring Wood, metal, wiring Wood, metal, wiring Metal, wiring Wood, metal, wiring
Calibration Auto Manual Auto Manual Auto Auto
Metal search depth, cm 12 3-5 eight 7.6 8.0 8.0
Search depth of wiring, cm 5 Up to 7.5 eight 7.6 5.0 5.0
Color search depth metal, cm eight eight 7.6 6.0 6.0
Tree search depth, cm 3.8 3-5 2 3.8 2.0
Max. search depth, cm 12
Food Battery 9 V Battery 9V Battery 9V Battery 9V Battery 9V Battery 9V Battery 9V

The performance summary table has empty cells. I just took all the data from the technical data sheets published by the manufacturers, but I didn’t find any parameters.

If you have such devices, you can supplement this information through the comments section.

In general, while collecting information from manufacturers’ websites, I noticed one strange feature: no plant gives a 100% guarantee for the accuracy of determining the final result.

Even Bosch specifically stipulates in his passport that many related factors affect the accuracy of the device, which must be taken into account at the measurement site.

These include:

  • strong magnetic and electric fields;
  • the presence of foreign metal objects of different sizes;
  • wall moisture and its conductive properties;
  • other hidden wires laid nearby;
  • voltage pickups;
  • other random events.

Therefore, it is necessary to additionally look at the design and executive construction documentation, check it during work. It’s just that it’s very difficult for us to implement these Boch recommendations in practice. It remains for us to take into account all these factors, to study and follow the requirements of the instructions for calibrating and measuring the detector, and to take into account the possibility of its error.

By the way, the measurements of the same wall with hidden wiring carried out by different detectors showed slightly different results.

Individuals are wondering how to steal electricity and how to deceive a hidden wiring detector when the Energy Supervision Authority begins to check their household. I want to warn you right away that this is a very bad idea, which is almost immediately doomed to failure. An experienced craftsman, and even very financially interested, easily solves such problems.

In general, devices for finding hidden wiring greatly facilitate the work of a home, and even a professional electrician. Their results should be approached creatively, given that the greater the load on the wiring, the less error the scanner can make.

The main disadvantage of their design is that in the event of a malfunction, the manufacturer recommends refusing to repair and advises simply to purchase another device. This should also be taken into account when buying. I remind you that now it is convenient for you to share your experience of operating such detectors with other readers of the site in the comments section. It will be useful to many people.

Scope of indicators

The scope of application of IPS depends on the configuration of the device and its sensitivity.

Basic models of combined detectors can be used for the following purposes:

  • determination of hidden electrical wiring in ceilings, walls, floors;
  • detection of breaks in electrical cables;
  • correct connection of the phases of electric meters;
  • determination of the phase wire;
  • detection of ungrounded equipment;
  • checking the health of fuses and fuses;
  • detection of locations of metal fittings in the wall,

Bosch D-tect 150 Professional

The next hero of our TOP is Bosch D-tect 150 Professional.

This device allows you to identify objects hidden in walls and floors with an accuracy of 1 mm. At the same time, its maximum detection depth is 15 cm. At this distance, it is able to find ferrous and non-ferrous metals. In addition, the detector can detect wooden structures, plastic pipes, electrical wiring, as well as floor and wall heating pipes.

With simple controls and various operating modes, the detector can be easily configured to suit the task at hand. When objects are detected, an audible signal sounds and the screen displays the depth at which the object is located. This detector is comfortable to hold in your hands due to the presence of a handle with an embossed coating. Its housing is splash and dust resistant, so it can be used outdoors and construction sites. It is also worth noting that for ease of storage and transportation, the Bosch D-tect 150 Professional comes with a case.

Well, as for the power supply of the device, it is carried out from 3 AA batteries.

In general, if you need a detector that can detect objects with high accuracy even at great depths, then this model is best suited for this business.

  • Magnetic metals: up to 150 mm.
  • Non-magnetic metals: up to 150 mm.
  • Electric wire: up to 60 mm.
  • Wood in drywall: up to 40 mm.
  • Power supply: batteries.
  • Auto power off.
  • Dimensions: 97 x 200 mm.
  • Weight: 650 g.

ELITECH D 80

Our TOP continues – ELITECH D 80.

This is an inexpensive household detector that can recognize the presence of wiring, wood, as well as non-ferrous and ferrous metals. The device recognizes objects quite accurately, the main thing is not to forget to calibrate before each measurement. And, about the detected objects, the device notifies the user with a sound signal and the corresponding indication on the body and screen.

The detector is able to detect ferrous metals at a depth of up to 8 cm, non-ferrous metals – up to 6 cm, electrical wiring – up to 5 cm, and wooden floors at a depth of up to 2 cm.

The device itself is quite light and compact. It is easy to use and understand the management is not difficult. It is powered by a Krona-type battery, the charge of which is enough for 6 hours of use. And, to save battery power in case you forget to turn off the device, it has an auto-off function.

As for the reviews, most of the owners speak positively about it, noting that this is one of the best universal detectors in its price segment. It well defines metal in brick walls, wires under current and wood under drywall.

  • Magnetic metals: up to 80 mm.
  • Non-magnetic metals: up to 60 mm.
  • Electric wire: up to 50 mm.
  • Wood in drywall: up to 20 mm.
  • Power supply: battery.
  • Auto power off.
  • Dimensions: 147 x 68 x 27 mm.
  • Weight: 120 g.

How is it used


Using the detector is not difficult. On its panel there is a signaling device (usually an LED, but there may also be a telephone speaker for sounding).
The antenna of the device is carried along the wall and the indicator is observed (or listened to if the signal is sound). When the instrument detects wiring or structural elements, the indicator flashes or beeps. It remains only to determine the routing and the direction of laying the wires.

Depending on the design, the device may have different capabilities.

Using the same usage techniques, you can use different functions:

  • indication of hidden objects of various types (wiring connected to a power source, magnetic and non-magnetic metal, non-metal);
  • determining the accuracy of the indication of the object as a percentage;
  • temperature measurement;
  • determination of the central point of metal objects;
  • search for wooden inserts.

Expert opinion

Makhinov Vladimir Konstantinovich

Electrical communications specialist

The number of functionalities is determined at the time of purchase of the device. It should be noted that additional options significantly increase the cost of the device. Therefore, you need to know exactly which features will be used in order to pay only for the features you need.

Types of indicators

Detectors are divided into several different types. They are classified according to the principle of operation, the mechanism used to alert the user when wires are detected, and so on. Each device has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s look at them below:

  1. An electrostatic hidden wire indicator is used to find the electric field generated by the voltage on the wires. Among the advantages, we highlight the simplicity of the circuit and the ability to detect current at large distances. Cons – the ability to work only in a dry environment, as well as the presence of voltage in the network to register the wiring.
  2. An electromagnetic device captures the electromagnetic field created by the current moving through the wires. The detector scheme is as simple as possible, allows you to achieve high accuracy. The disadvantage is similar to the electrostatic counterpart: the wiring must be energized, while the connected load is at least 1 kW.
  3. An inductive indicator is, in fact, an ordinary metal detector. Such a device independently creates an electromagnetic field, and then fixes its changes. The main advantage is that there is no need for tension. Among the shortcomings is a complex circuit and the possibility of false positives, since the detector will detect any metal products.
  4. Combined indicator – factory models that have different operating principles. Against the background of high accuracy, sensitivity and efficiency, the only drawback is the high cost.

Hidden wiring indicator

Electrostatic devices

Searchers of this type register the presence of an electromagnetic field emanating from wires to which voltage is connected. This is a fairly simple device that is easy to assemble with your own hands (the device diagram will be given in the final section). Note that almost all inexpensive detectors operate on this principle.

Detector E121
Detector E121

Features of electrostatic type detectors:

  • given that the device responds to electromagnetic radiation, detection of the wiring requires that it is not de-energized;
  • when working with the detector, it is necessary to choose the optimal sensitivity level. If it is low, it may be difficult to detect deeply located wiring; at the maximum level, there is a high probability of a false alarm;
  • damp walls or the presence of metal structures in them make it almost impossible to find wiring.

Given the low price, simplicity and efficiency (with the exception of small restrictions), devices with an electrostatic principle of operation are popular even with professional electricians.

Electromagnetic finders

This type of signaling devices allows you to detect electromagnetic excitation emanating from the wires if a load is connected to them. The accuracy and efficiency of electromagnetic wiring finders is much higher than electrostatic ones.

Electromagnetic signaling device
Electromagnetic signaling device

These devices have a characteristic feature, which consists in the fact that in order to guarantee the determination of the wiring route, it is necessary to connect a load to it, the power of which is at least one kilowatt, which in most cases does not cause difficulty. For example, this can be done by connecting an electric kettle to the appropriate power line (remembering to fill it with water).

metal detectors

In cases where it is not possible to connect voltage to the wiring or load to it, metal detectors are used. The principle of operation of these devices is based on the fact that the metal, falling into an electromagnetic field, causes disturbances in it, which are recorded by the device.

Model PMD 7 from Bosch
Model PMD 7 from Bosch

The peculiarities of this class of devices include the fact that they react to any metal in the walls. That is, in addition to wiring, the detectors will be triggered when fittings, screws, nails, etc. are detected.

Passive detectors (radiation receivers)

Such wire detectors respond to the electric or magnetic field of the wire. They are insensitive to de-energized wiring. It is also useless to look for DC wiring with their help.

Hidden wiring indicator - which is better, an electrical wiring indicator in the form of a screwdriver

Combined finders

Devices of this type are multifunctional devices – multidetectors. They can combine several principles of searching for wiring hidden in the wall, which significantly expands the scope and increases efficiency.

An example is the TS-75 model shown in the photo below. This device combines the functions of a metal detector and an electrostatic detector.

TS-75 - reliable and inexpensive multi-wiring detector
Photo: TS-75 – reliable and inexpensive multi-wiring detector

How to choose

The choice of a suitable device is based on a comparison of your needs and the capabilities of the model. Here it is necessary to take into account the amount of work to be done, the features of the search, the conditions and the degree of accuracy in detecting hidden elements. If you have to survey large areas and search for small elements, thin or broken wiring, you will need a fairly accurate professional tool.

The optimal one is a combined type that can not only find an object, but also determine its material and configuration in the wall.

To search for ordinary wiring (for example, to eliminate the risk of short circuit when drilling holes), an inexpensive household detector will do. The price of the device plays a significant role – professional and multifunctional models are much more expensive than simple household appliances. It is not advisable to spend a lot of money for a one-time procedure, but for permanent work it is a necessity.

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