Best Stud Finders in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update May 26, 2018
If you’re planning to hang a picture, shelf or a mirror on the wall, you want to know where the wall studs are located since driving screws or other mounting fixtures not in the studs will make the nails and screws far less capable of enduring loads. The best tool for detecting studs or metallic items in a wall is a stud finder. It will not only show you the exact location of the wall frame but will also prevent you from hitting electrical wires. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Scanned Objects
Extras
Weight
Power Source
Max Detection Depth
Warranty
 
PROS

You can adjust the brightness of the display and control the volume of a sound signal in order to increase the battery life.

CONS

The appliance might seem rather heavy.

OUR VERDICT

The stud finder from Bosch is a true must-have for both constructors and hobbyists as it shows every item behind the wall 4-3/4'' deep. Having detected a stud or wiring, the tool alerts a user about it via an illuminated ring, audible alert, and a picture on a display.

detailed parameters
Scanned Objects

Wood studs, Metal objects (rebar, studs and steel/copper pipes), Live AC wiring

Extras

Multi-mode detection, Illuminated ring shows detection status, Automatic centre finder, Illuminated graphical display, Three selection modes, Audible detection signal, Ergonomic soft-grip

Weight

~269 g

Power Source

1 x 9V (6LR61) battery

Max Detection Depth

up to 12 cm

Warranty

2 years

PROS

The stud finder comes equipped with four modes: stud mode, metal mode, AC mode, and deep mode. On top of that, you receive a low battery indicator and an auto-off feature that activates after 60 seconds of no use. 

CONS

The metal mode could use some improvement in terms of accuracy.

OUR VERDICT

Fetanten 4-in-1 Digital Multi-function stands by its name as one of the most versatile options on the market. On top of that, it is also incredibly easy to operate, making it an exceptional choice for a large variety of potential customers. 

detailed parameters
Scanned Objects

Wood studs, Metal objects, Live wiring

Extras

Deep-scan mode, Auto-Off, BI BI sound indication, Low battery indicator

Weight

~259 g

Power Source

1 x 9V (6LR61) (Not included)

Max Detection Depth

up to 4.5 cm

Warranty

1 year

PROS

Any user will appreciate a small weight and a compact size of this tool. Thus, it will snugly fit into a pocket of your shirt or trousers.

CONS

Detection depth is insufficient.

OUR VERDICT

Equipped with two rare earth magnets, the tool is the most durable model that copes with the task twice as fast as most of the other stud finders. Perfect for detecting hidden objects behind drywalls and locating vertical studs owing to the onboard level.

detailed parameters
Scanned Objects

Any metal items in a stud (fasteners, screws, nails) 

Extras

Strong rare earth magnets, Compact and lightweight, Clings to a wall via magnetic force when it detects metals, Has three anchor points on each side for easy levelling, Ergonomic shape for easy grabbing

Weight

~68 g

Power Source

No batteries required

Max Detection Depth

1.9 cm

Warranty

No warranty

PROS

Thanks to a bright green backlighting, you will always be able to see the reading on the display.

CONS

The backlight of the display cannot be turned off, thus the battery runs low pretty fast.

OUR VERDICT

Choose the appropriate detection depth and locate any material behind a wall for your construction needs using the FOLAI FY0920 stud finder. What's more, you will easily find live AC wires.

detailed parameters
Scanned Objects

Metal studs, Gas and water pipes, Rebar, Joint seams, Live AC wires

Extras

Quickly locates edges and centre of metal studs, Easy-to-read display, Three operation modes: Stud mode, Metal mode, AC mode

Weight

~204 g

Power Source

1 x 9V (6F22) battery

Max Detection Depth

up to 7.62 cm

Warranty

1 year

PROS

Switching between the available operating modes, you will always be able to find out the depth a stud is located at.

CONS

The display doesn't feature a backlight.

OUR VERDICT

The Zircon e50 is the best option for those who use a stud finder to detect hidden objects on a daily basis but don't want to spend a fortune on some super hi-tech tool. Just a couple of buttons and a stud is found!

detailed parameters
Scanned Objects

Wood stud edges and metal studs

Extras

DeepScan® mode, Easy-to-read LCD display, Updated SpotLite® Pointer, WireWarning® detection, Zircon's patented "over-the-stud", Patented TruCal® technology

Weight

~159 g

Power Source

1 x 9V battery

Max Detection Depth

up to 5 cm

Warranty

1 year

Bosch GMS120

Watch the Colour Prompts

The first item in our review is a stud finder by Bosch with its exterior being the first aspect examined. The device comes in the housing made of standard dark blue plastic, has an easy-to-read display and six control buttons on its front side. However, the first design element that drew our attention was a circular shape port with four LEDs on its perimeter placed right above the display. The purpose of the LEDs is to inform you about in-wall objects being in proximity to the finder and the port allowing you to put a mark on the wall. Though these LEDs double the device scale in indicating the presence of nearby objects inside the wall, they may come in handy for users suffering from a weak sight as the LEDs enable them to see the direction to a nearby object sought even without their glasses on. The only element on the Bosch GMS120 back is the battery compartment cover. Though the model uses a single 17R8H battery for its operation, it is comparatively bulky and on the heavy side, which is justified by the finder rich functionality.

Review of Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner

An Extremely Sensitive Finder

The Bosch GMS120 can be used for detecting wood and metal beams and columns as well as nonferrous metal elements and electric wiring. You can select a corresponding detection mode by pressing the dedicated button on the device. Please note that each mode has its own maximum scanning depth. For example, the GMS120 can detect ferrous metal at the depth of up to 4-3/4 inches, nonferrous metals – at up to 3-1/8 inches, the wiring - at 2 inches maximum, and the wood elements – at 1-1/2 inches. This Bosch stud finder will notify you about objects detected in two ways: by means of a sound signal and LED flashing. As the device approaches an in-wall object, its built-in LED changes its colour from green to yellow and eventually to red when the object gets close to the device. Thus, in addition to the visual indication of the scanning progress, you are notified about a nearby in-wall object by beeping signals. However, you can turn the beeping notification off any moment by pressing the key.

Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner in the use

Power Efficiency On top of Everything Else

Speaking of additional features, one of the things that seem especially convenient for us is a display of the tool, featuring a backlight that can be turned on and off any moment. We also found out that the Bosch GMS120 automatically turns off after about 5 minutes of inactivity, which also adds to its usability features and prolongs its battery life. For ease of use, the kit includes a hand strap that will allow you to carry the tool in a similar manner you normally wear a bundle of keys, and for safe transportation - the kit contains a carrying case. 

Considering all of this, such a detector can be advised to those who often use such kind of devices, in particular - for the duty of service. The Bosch GMS120 will be an excellent solution that will quickly find and maximally show objects hidden in walls.
Detailed review of Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner

Wouldn't Go Amiss for Sure!

When examining the device, we were a little surprised that its case is protected against dust and water splashes in conformance with the IP54 standard. But taking into account that the device can be used outdoors, the availability of such protection would surely not go amiss as it improves the device reliability and prolongs its service life.

Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Fetanten 4-in-1 Digital Multi-function

Speed and Precision

The company behind this device markets it as a 4-in-1 Wall Multi-Scanner Electronic Stud Sensor. So, naturally, with a name like that, the biggest emphasis has got to be put on the multifunctionality and versatility of this model. After all, regardless of how well your device is equipped against a certain kind of issue or towards a specific task, if it isn't capable of handling a large variety of assignments, you can't really, in good faith, call it a multifunctional stud finder. And, upon further inspection, we can tell that the model in question truly deserves this kind of title. First of all, before even discussing all of the modes this product is equipped with, we would like to point out that the aforementioned stud finder is one of the faster and more precise options on the market and it is more than capable of effortlessly and quickly locating edges and centre of stud finder metal studs, pipes, wooden beams, rebar, current behind walls, floors and ceilings, not to mention the fact that it can also indicate the presence of live AC wire. Although the device cannot be used for direct current, the possible number of applications is impressive nonetheless.

Review of Fetanten 4-in-1 Digital Multi-function Electronic Stud Finder Detector

A Mode for Every Issue

Now, as one could rather easily infer from the name of the device or, more specifically, from the part of that name that says "4-in-1", the model is equipped with four modes: stud mode, metal mode, AC mode, and deep mode. Without going into too many details, we would like to briefly touch upon every single one of them, including their purposes and capabilities. The stud mode is there in order to find the edges and the centre of a wood beam in walls up to 1.2 inches (3 centimetres) deep. The metal mode doesn't stray too far away from its name and is included in the model with the purpose of detecting metal, such as pipe, rebar, copper, and aluminum in walls up to 1.57 inches (4 cm). The AC mode, also known as a Current mode, does a perfectly acceptable job when it comes to locating live AC wire lines up to 2.36 inches (6 cm) deep. And, last but not least, there's the Deep mode that is put there in order to identify and determine the depth of the wall. The said mode is capable of doing so in walls up to 1.77 inches (4.5cm) deep.

Fetanten 4-in-1 Digital Multi-function Electronic Stud Finder Detector in the use

Easy to Operate

If you're not familiar with these kinds of devices, you might think that operating and utilising it could prove to be a bit of a challenge. While we won't be able to deny this sort of allegation when it comes to every single stud finder out there, this particular one is as user-friendly as it gets. The mode comes equipped with no more than three buttons and the first thing you will have to do is select the probe type, then you should press and hold the push button until it starts making sounds, and all that is left to do is scan horizontally across the object surface. A graphical liquid-crystal display and continuous beeping sounds are there in order to help you find out the stud's location. If you are completely sure that there are lines in a specific location, but don't seem to be able to find them with the sensor in "AC" mode, then you ought to simply switch to the metal mode since electrical lines are often shielded by metal cladding. Add to that the fact that the device is equipped with an auto-off function that turns it off after 60 seconds of no use and we would be unwise not to recommend this device to those customers that are looking for a versatile and convenient stud finder.

Detailed review of Fetanten 4-in-1 Digital Multi-function Electronic Stud Finder Detector

 

CH Hanson 03040

So Small That You Can Forget You Put It in Your Pocket

Now we want to bring to your attention a stud finder that uses magnets. The CH Hanson 03040 device has a rather simplistic design with no display or buttons and all it's got is a bubble tube in the centre which also doubles as a levelling gauge. The 03040 finder is very compact and weighs as little as 2.4 ounces. Thanks to this, you can carry it easily in a pocket of your shirt or trousers, unlike many competing products that require proper fixation to the hand wrist or a belt. However, small dimensions aren't the only advantage of the tool. One of the other benefits of the CH Hanson 03040 stud finder is that it features a power independent design. Let's see into its operation a bit closer.

Review of CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder

Easy as ABC

The finder uses two rare-earth magnets to locate hidden objects in walls. Indeed, the CH Hanson stud finder is a rather easy-to-use and straightforward tool with a simple design. Just place the finder on a wall surface and sweep it across the wall in an S-shaped pattern until you feel the device magnet attract to a hidden object, which indicates you’ve found the object location. What's more, you can leave the CH Hanson 03040 hanging on the wall until you ready a marker or a pencil to mark the metal object location. However, you can start drilling or driving self-tapping screws in some place under or above the located object as the beam it is attached to goes vertically across the wall. Moreover, this tool is equipped with a levelling gauge, thus after finding metal objects you can use the tool to draw horizontal lines across the objects detected and mark the positions of horizontal beams. As for the downsides of this model, it offers a comparatively small detection depth, which is 3/4 inches. Though using the finder you will have no problems in finding a structural iron in a drywall.

CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder in the use

Use the Built-In Leveling Gauge

Now let's consider in detail the additional convenience feature of the device, which we mentioned above. To get the most out of the free space available in the detector case, the manufacturer decided to build in yet another, quite useful device - a two-direction bulb level. Using the magnets and the level, you can locate metal objects in the wall and mark the horizontals and verticals on which the objects are positioned right away. Thus, the device will be of a great use when you locate in-wall metal profiles because once you get the finder attracted the wall just follow the level and mark the necessary points. By the way, we found out that due to the simplicity of its design, this device is not covered by manufacturer's warranty, so do not be surprised if the seller does not provide you with any as the CH Hanson 03040 has simply nothing to break.

Detailed review of CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder

The Device You Won't Have to Look for Long

For your convenience, this CH Hanson model is equipped with a plastic loop, which allows you to hang the device on the wall in your workshop. This small feature is very useful as the compact size of the finder makes it easy to get lost among other tools. Thus, hanging it on the wall you will always know where to find it.

CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

FOLAI FY0920421

A Large and Instructive Display

Examining the electronic stud finder by the FOLAI company, we realized how convenient-to-use and multifunctional the device was in a very short time. However, before we go deep into detail, let's briefly overview the tool appearance as we usually do. The tool comes packed in a plastic housing, has a large display and three control buttons which are ON/OFF, Mode and Scan Button. The location of the Scan button on the left side of the tool is typical of the majority of stud finders out there which has proved convenient for many users. As for the FY0920's display, we were very pleased not only with its big size but also with its capability to display various icons, which makes it quite convenient and instructive. Moving to the upper part of the tool you can see a small notch in the centre, which allows you to mark the centre of the object found. On the back of the FY0920, there is a battery compartment for a 9V battery which is used to provide power for the finder operation. Generally speaking, the design of this FOLAI model is quite comfortable, mostly due to the narrow lower part of the device case, which fits perfectly in the palm of a hand and makes it easy to hold the tool for a long time.

If you need to drill holes in metal, opt for a power drill. Armed with a stud finder, you will never hit the wiring.

Review of FOLAI FY0920421 Wall Stud Finder

Capable of Finding Any Wires

Since this model is of an electronic type, it can detect various materials in walls, such as wooden structures, metal profiles, various kinds of metalware, as well as concealed electrical wiring. As a useful feature, the device offers an additional mode for detecting live wires (Trace hot AC). Speaking of metal objects detection, the finder is capable of locating them at 1/2, 1 and 1-1 / 2 inches depths. If you need to locate wood racks and wires, the device will detect them at the depth of up to 3 inches. Please, keep in mind that it is recommended to calibrate the sensors before each scan in order to obtain the most accurate results. To do this, you need to put the device against the wall and hold the Scan button until the device beeps.

FOLAI FY0920421 Wall Stud Finder in the use

Operable in the Dark

One of the advantages of this model is its backlit display, which is often a feature of more expensive models. Thus, if you need to use the device in a poorly lit room or you find yourself in a blackout during your work, you can continue working with the backlight. However, the backlight implementation is not optimal as it is constantly on and can't be turned off manually, which results in battery power wasting when working in the daylight or good lighting. Fortunately, the display shows the battery charge level, which allows you to replace the battery in time. By the way, the battery is included in the supply package, so after unpacking, you can immediately start using the FOLAI FY0920.This stud finder model will allow you to locate multiple objects, with that you will be able to find both live and dead wires.

This stud finder model will allow you to locate multiple objects, with that you will be able to find both live and dead wires.

Detailed review of FOLAI FY0920421 Wall Stud Finder

Determine an Object Width Easily

An important device feature is the Stud mode, in which the tool makes it possible to detect both edges of wood structures and their center. To do this, select this mode and perform the scanning when sweeping the device near an object the display shows an arrow icon that points to a nearby detectable object edge. When moving the device closer to the object center you will be displayed the Center icon. Thus, the stud finder allows an accurate width of wood beams and racks.

FOLAI FY0920421 Wall Stud Finder application

 

Zircon e50

Won't Damage the Wall Finish

The next entry in our review is a finder by the Zircon company, which was founded back in 1975. The company started as a digital watches manufacturer and decided to apply its experience in high-precision products making to stud finders production. That led to the emergence of the StudSensor™ finders line, one the models from which we examine today. The Zircon е50 model uses electric sensors and a nine-volt battery as a power source. The e50 has a plastic case with two soft cloth inserts at the bottom that ensure its smooth sweeping across the wall and prevent any damage to the wall finish. There is also an ergonomic rubber insert over the molded grip on the lower end of the device case for more convenience. As for the controls, the finder face has only one two-position switch and the power on button on the left.

Review of Zircon e50 Edge Finding Stud Finder with Live AC WireWarning Detection

A Blind Detection of In-Wall Objects

To help you figure out whether the device is that simple to use we will describe our experience with it. In regard to the finder functionality, we can say that the model can pinpoint the location of wooden racks and structures, metal profiles, as well as wiring and metalware. This detector operates in the Stud Scan and Deepscan modes. When used in the first mode, the device detects wood and metal objects at the maximum depth of 3/4 inches, which is actually needed for the search for profiles and racks. Switching to the second mode enables the detection of the same objects at the depth of up to 1-1/2 inches. With that, live wires in walls are detected automatically in both modes at a depth of 2 inches. On live wire detection, the Zircon e50 notifies you about that by flashing the corresponding indicator on its display. In addition, any detection of the above objects is accompanied by an audible signal, which is very convenient as you won't need to constantly look at the display and will be able to focus on the layout of the objects in the wall instead. So after selecting the suitable mode and taking the device in your hands, you can start to operate the device in a blind mode right away as the scan initiation button is easy to find and push. Easy and convenient, isn't it?

Zircon e50 Edge Finding Stud Finder with Live AC WireWarning Detection in the use

A Button Placed Where You Need It

Among the noticeable features the device offers, we want to write about the finderability to accurately pinpoint objects edges location. That is, when sweepingthe e50 across the wall from right to left, you can first locate the right edge of an object and after sweeping in reverse direction the device pinpoints the left edge of the object. Having marked the edges, you will easily find the center of the object, where you can drive the screw or drill a hole in. For your convenience, the stud finder handle is made with ergonomic finger indents to fit snugly in your palm. Now, a few words about the scan button positioning. As we mentioned earlier, the manufacturer placed the button on the device left, just where you put your thumb when you take the Zircon e50 in your right hand. Thus, after a short use, you will already be able to start objects detectionwithout even looking at the device.

In general, the e50 model is a nice choice for those who want to always have a reliable device at their fingertips that can quickly and accurately detect not only wooden and metal parts and structures but also concealed wiring.

Detailed review of Zircon e50 Edge Finding Stud Finder with Live AC WireWarning Detection

Right in the Cross Hairs

By sweeping the finder across the wall, you can quickly locate in-wall objects. After the device’s detected an object all you need to do is to mark its location on the wall, which is very easy with the special mark on the device top that the manufacturer providently provided for.

Zircon e50 Edge Finding Stud Finder with Live AC WireWarning Detection application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Infographics

Comparison of Stud Finders

What Is a Stud Finder?

Nowadays, you can find a lot of tools for home renovations that simplify this work dramatically. One of them is a stud finder and its main purpose is to detect the framing studs located behind a wall surface. That's why a stud finder is an indispensable tool for those who need to drill holes in dry walls or particleboards and hammer nails or drive screws directly into a vertical metal or timber stud. Of course, if you are a seasoned builder, you can detect hollows in a wall by simply tapping on it. However, we think that finding studs with a specialized device is much easier. What's more, it will help you detect the electrical wires behind the walls and thus, avoid electric shocks and short circuits.

You can choose one of two different types of stud finders for home or professional use: electronic and magnetic. Both of them will help you find studs each in its own way, though. As the name suggests, a magnetic tool uses magnets to locate metal in the walling material (screws and nails) while an electric one measures the wall density in order to detect studs. The finders can be equipped with a display that shows a frame layout or LEDs that light up, indicating studs. The choice of a stud finder depends on your preferences only, so read our review on 5 best models available in the market and make the right choice.

If you are renovating your home now it is high-time to level up your toolbox with new instruments for extra convenience. First of all, consider a laser level to align and balance every item in your house and then get rid of your old measuring tape since laser meters are more convenient and feature the whooping measuring distance up to 300 ft!

What Features to Compare

Type

Finders for detecting hidden objects in walls can be both electronic and mechanical. In case of mechanical finders, their type implies a complete absence of electronic parts and availability of one or more magnets as operating components in their design. As for electronic models, they are equipped with special sensors that detect changes of dielectric permeability or dielectric capacitivity of a wall, as well as electric field intensity changes. The information about objects located in such a way is displayed on the screen, and for the stud finder models with a simpler design, it will be displayed using conventional LEDs. Thus, you can not only determine an object location but also determine its width. Naturally, the operation of these electronic detecting devices requires an electric power, for which an AA or nine-volt battery, as a rule, is used.

Detectable Objects

Depending on the finder type types of objects that you can find with it may also be different. For example, mechanical models can easily detect metal objects in walls, with that these finders are not capable of detecting objects at the depth of more than 3/4 inches, as a rule. At this point, the possibilities of mechanical detectors are exhausted, thus if you need a device with wider possibilities then electronic models are the option.Some models with built-in sensors and scanners can easily detect not only metalware and metal profiles inside walls but also hidden wiring (live and dead) and even gas or water pipes - at the depth of 4 inches or more.

Features and Ease of Use

It is natural that each manufacturer tries to make its product easier to use by implementing certain features. For example, some models can not only show information about the object found on the display but also notify the user with a sound signal. Other models may feature special pointers to the location of a hidden object, which make it easier for you to mark the object location with a pencil or a marker pen. It is also worth noting that most electronic models have several modes for detecting specific types of objects with each type displayed on the screen as a corresponding icon. Such indication greatly simplifies the use of the detector. 

If you have to work in low light conditions often we recommend choosing a model with a backlight that will make reading the info on the display much more convenient. When considering an electronic detector model, it is advisable to learn what kind of batteries and how many are used for the device operation. From or experience, replacing a set of four AA batteries is easier and cheaper than replacing the same number of nine-volt batteries. Eventually, do not forget to check the detector weight as you may have to carry it in the pocket of your shirt or pants, in which case every extra ounce will bring discomfort.

FAQ:

Q: What is the difference between various stud finders that are available for purchase? 

A: With various stud finders available today, most of them refer to two main types: magnetic and electric stud finders. While magnetic finders use stationary or moving magnets to detect metal objects, the electric or electronic ones use special sensors that detect changes in the dielectric constant of the wall. Based on this principle, electric stud finders determine changes in dielectric constant when you sweep the sensor over a fastener or a stud. With that, lower dielectric constant readings indicate the presence of a stud or other metal object in the wall. Some finder devices combine both magnetic and electric technologies. However, there are newer technologies implemented in some finders, such as the use of RF radars with 3D imaging technology.

Q: Do magnetic stud finders differ from each other?
A: While all magnetic finders share the same principle of operation, which is the attraction of the magnet or magnets to metal objects in the wall, the implementations differ. There are magnetic finders that have secured magnets that do not move inside the finder and there are models with a magnet suspended in an enclosure inside the device case and is free to move in response to in-wall metal objects.

Q: Is there a difference between the electric finders?
A: The electric stud finders can be divided into three main categories: edge finders, centre finders, instant finders. Being the most basic internal capacitor detectors, edge finders detect edges of a stud or other materials. Center stud finders usually use two sensors for registering separate readings of a dielectric constant of the wall to detect the stud centre. The most cutting-edge devices, instant stud finders, are equipped with multiple sensor plates and special algorithms for processing the sensor readings, which eliminate the need for the user to sweep them across the wall.

Q: What objects can I locate using a stud finder?
A: As we mentioned, the primary function of a stud finder is to detect studs, fasteners and metalware in the wall. Though magnetic stud finders are designed to locate such object, electric finders may offer a wider range of detectable objects. Depending on the type of sensors used, electric finders are capable of locating wood beams and structures as well as live AC wires in the wall.

Q: Do I need to have any special skills to use a stud finder?
A: No, using a stud finder does not require any special skills. However, using magnetic models may require more effort in determining the location of in-wall objects due to its simple principle and comparatively small range of operation.

Sources:

1. Stud Finder Buying Guide, eBay. September 16, 2013.

2. How to Use a Stud Finder to Find Stud Joists Through Carpet, DoItYourself.

3. How to Find a Stud, wikiHow.

4. Stud finder, Wikipedia. February 20, 2017.

5. Bob Formisano Stud Finders: What You Need to Know, The Spruce. May 26, 2016.

6. Steffani Cameron How To: Use a Stud Finder, bob vila.

7. Stud Finder, HowStuffWorks.

8. Lee Wallender Six Ways Find a Stud in a Wall, The Spruce. March 1, 2017.

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Publish Date: 2018-01-09 09:23:57