Best Wire Tracers: Easily Detect Wires Behind Walls
Quickly locate hidden wires and electrical issues with these top wire tracers
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BY Suzana Mijatovic / LAST UPDATED ON June 25, 2021
Every once in awhile, wires used in house construction or in other electrical installations can malfunction. Tracing wires behind walls or underground can be a real hassle. Without a proper wire tracer, you won't be able to locate them and replace them. To help you find the perfect wire tracer for the job, we have picked the top options on the market.
This device traces all kinds of hidden wires, including pet fence wires, electrical wires, and metal pipes. If you want reliability and speed in resolving electrical and other wiring issues, Kolsol might be just the thing you need.
- Offers an impressive range of up to three feet in depth and 1,000 feet in length
- Compact, lightweight, and easy to maneuver
- Reliable and quick in tracing wires buried underground and behind walls
- Can also locate a specific circuit breaker
- Fragile outer shell is prone to damage, which can make the tracer unsuitable for daily use
- Works only on single or double-strand wires and not on multi-stranded wires
The Meterk Wire Tracker is a powerful and reliable device that traces a wide range of wires, those located both behind walls and those buried underground. It also checks the status of network and telephone lines. Thanks to the user-friendly design, everyone can use it.
- Wire tracker is powerful enough to locate wires in a matter of seconds
- Intuitive design makes it easy to use and maneuver
- Device produces a loud signal sound and has an indicator light
- Comes with a pair of earplugs and a storage bag
- Not designed for professional use
- Button on the probe is too loose
- Tracer can accidentally turn itself on in the toolbox
- Earplugs are fragile and get damaged easily
This is a handy electrical troubleshooting kit that includes a circuit breaker finder, a wire tracer, an AC voltage detector, and more. It’s highly efficient and ideal for discovering malfunctions around the house.
- Tracker quickly locates wires and circuit breakers
- Comes with a LED light, an audible alarm, and a sensitivity adjustment button
- Easy to use, carry around, and store
- Sensitivity wheel doesn't have increment markings and might be difficult to adjust
- Outer shell is not of the best quality and requires careful handling
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Wire Tracers
- Efficient. Wire tracers are specially designed to locate wires in hard-to-reach areas. These days, wires run underground or through the walls, which makes them harder to trace. With a proper tracker, you can locate wires with ease, whether you're in a home or commercial environment.
- Time-saving. A wire tracer also saves you a lot of time you would otherwise spend trying to figure out there the wires go. It can locate wires both underground and in walls within a few minutes, allowing you to perform any repair rather quickly.
- Easy on the budget. Wire tracers are smart investments because they last for a long time. They allow you to trace wires, network cables, and open circuits for years, saving you a lot of money on electricians and other related expenses. Wire tracers are not expensive, so you won't have to spend a fortune to get one in the first place.
Types of Wire Tracers
There are two methods of checking for wires and cables with wire tracers. The first one regards active locating, which is convenient for those who need to locate specific lines, pipes, and more. A wire tracer charges a specific line with electricity and uses a receiver to pick up the generated signal. It does that by using a direct connection or by emitting a signal. Some devices require direct attachment to the line, while others only have to be well positioned on the ground above the particular line.
The second method is called passive wire locating. It is used when a targeted line is already charged with electricity. The tracer picks up the signal without the help of the receiver. This method, however, won’t help you find a specific wire in wire pairs or groups. It will detect power in a specific area and help you secure the place prior to drilling or other activities.
Extech was founded in 1971 and is located in Boston, Mass. The company produces all kinds of tools for preventing, identifying, and resolving mechanical, electrical, and other issues. Its main goal is to equip both professionals and DIYers with reliable and high-quality gear. Extech covers a whole array of tools, from electronics to lab instruments, and the Extech Electrical Troubleshooting Kit is one of its most popular products.
Amprobe is one of the most popular companies when it comes to tools for electricians and HVAC technicians. It was founded in 1948 and is located in Long Island, N.Y. For more than 70 years, Amprobe has been a company trusted by both professionals and handypersons. It stands behind the first clamp meter and the first wire tracer, and it always brings new and innovative tools on the market. An example of this is the Amprobe AT-6020 Advanced Wire Tracer with 8 Sensitivity Modes.
Wire Tracers Pricing
- $30-$40: There are a lot of reliable and quality wire tracers in this price range. Although they might be specifically designed for some situations such as underground or wall tracing, they are very effective and accurate.
- $50 and up: Pricier wire tracers come with more durable cases and a lot of extra features. They are designed to last and give more accuracy when used for professional and demanding tasks. For some extra cash, you can also find electrical troubleshooting kits with many accessories and versatile devices that can trace wires, cables, circuits, and more.
Consider what type of wire tracer you need in the first place. Some of them are specifically designed for certain conditions and environments and might not work for all purposes. Along with the two main types of wire tracers (active or passive tracing), there are also several other models. There's an underground wire tracer that can help you with finding wires buried deep under the ground or circuit breakers for locating power issues. Determine which type works best for your specific issues and pick a model accordingly.
Along with choosing between an active or passive wire tracing, you can also opt for a particular attachment type. Some wire trackers need to be attached to the network directly, and only then they can send the signal and detect specific lines, power issues, and more. Others, however, use clamps or alligator clips to send the signal when there's no direct access to the line.
Whether you're a professional or a DIYer, you'll need an adjustable receiver. It will allow you to pick up the signal of a different range, and consequently, detect and locate wires faster and more accurately. The best wire tracers have adjustable sensitivity modes, and users can set them up according to the situation and environment.
- Range. Not all line finders have the same range. Although most of them detect the signal at around three feet deep and 100 feet length, that can vary a lot depending on the model. These standard wire tracers work just fine for home purposes, but you might need the one with a higher range for professional purposes.
- Construction. It's also important to look for a device that comes with a rugged case for more durability. Home inspectors can go with a less durable wire tracer, but professionals might want to get a sturdier model. They are likely to use the device frequently and store it with other tools, which can cause damage and shorten the lifespan of a wire tracer.
- Additional Accessories. Consider what extra features and accessories you might need in the future. You might need the extra range at some point, as well as signal clamps and other accessories. If you have the means, you could invest in an all-purpose tracer that would work on all kinds of cabling and last for many years.
Best Wire Tracers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- The price of wire trackers could vary a lot depending on its purpose. You can find an excellent cheap tracker for home purposes and detecting wires occasionally. If you need a professional-grade tool, however, you'll need the best tracker that money can buy.
- Check the voltage power of a wire tracer before you use it. Not all devices are made to withstand the same amount of power. If the voltage of the source is higher than what the tracer can endure, the results won't be accurate. This can also cause a short circuit.
- Perform the necessary tests to see whether a wire tracer works well. It's important to know that the probe and the transmitter are at their peak power before you start tracing. Once you set the probe's sensitivity to a maximum level, move it towards the transmitter. It will allow you to check the connectivity and alert you about possible issues.
Q: What is a wire tracer?
It's a device that tracks wires and cables located deep inside walls, underground, or in water. It also identifies specific wires in a set or groups of other wires in the same connection. A wire tracer is perfect for detecting wiring issues and malfunctions in houses. It is also helpful in professional electrical tasks.
Q: How do wire tracers work?
Every wire tracer has a transmitter, a receiver, and a probe. The probe itself has three sensors. They are meant to locate a wire and determine in which direction the current goes. The probe points to a particular area, and the sensor catches the signal. The transmitter produces a unique signal that is detected by the receiver. Lastly, a receiver provides a numeric value that will depend on the signal strength.
Q: What are the most common types of wire tracers?
The main difference between wire tracers is each one’s ability to locate energized or non-energized wires. Some of them can locate both wire types, but most models are specialized for only one of them. There's also a type of circuit tracer that detects the circuit and its voltage.
The Kolsol Wire Locator is our top pick when it comes to wire tracers. It’s reliable, quick, and easy to use. If stored properly, the device can be used for DIY purposes and some professional applications.
For those who are on a tight budget, we recommend the Meterk Wire Tracker. It’s an inexpensive wire tracer that can tackle most electrical jobs around the house.