Stud finders vary a lot in features, as well as price. We tested out 4 different stud finders, all at different price points, to see which ones stood out. Nils built a demonstration wall with studs, PVC pipe, cast iron pipe, and wires behind it. This was a fun project to test out what the stud finders would actually find.
CH Hanson Magnet Stud Finder: $7.49 USD
Our overall rating: 1 Star
The CH Hanson Magnetic Stud Finder is the smallest and simplest stud finder we tested. This magnetic stud finder will pick up on drywall screws. You can just hang it on the stud you need to work on. It’s not the quickest to use, and it won’t find anything except metal screws. Overall, this is a good little tool to have around, especially for the price.
Pros: Inexpensive, works pretty well on metal screws (when magnet goes directly on the screw).
Cons: Won’t find pipes, electrical conduits, etc.
Zircon StudSensor e50: $24.99 USD
Our overall rating: 3 Stars
This is more of a standard stud finder. It does a pretty good job of finding what’s behind the wall. It does a great job at finding the studs, and it did detect the cast iron pipe- it knew something was there, but also knew it wasn’t a stud. It was also able to detect electrical wire pretty well, and it sensed some speaker wire as well. It did not find PVC pipes, which might be dangerous if you’ve got water running through them. Overall, it’s great at finding studs, and a little hit and miss with everything else, but not bad for the cost. The deep scan option is cool as it “lights up” when it’s approaching a stud or metal pipe.
Franklin Sensors FS710PRO Prosensor
Overall Rating: 2 Stars
This stud finder is horizontal, and has a level, which comes in handy. It lights up horizontally, which I like, since you typically move in that direction along the wall to look for studs.
It did a good job at detecting the studs, lighting up as it approached them. One important thing: it detected a metal conduit- which was located in between two studs- but acted as if the conduit was a stud. That can be risky if you drill into an electrical conduit, thinking it’s a stud. Remember that studs are 16″ apart, so if your stud finder is lighting up before that distance, it’s likely something else it’s finding. We like that it’s easy to use and that you don’t have to set anything up. Overall, this is a good stud finder that gets used pretty often at our house.
Walabot DIY: 74.99 USD
Our Rating: 4 Stars
This wall scanner/stud finder works with Android phones, and it works on drywall and concrete walls. It takes a minute to calibrate, but it shows a general image of what is behind the wall. It counts inches at it goes, and then can tell the difference between studs and pipes/wires (has a hard time telling the difference between wires and pipes).
One of the best things about the Walabot DIY is that it’s software. That means they will upgrade it, and as they hone in on the technology, the product can get better and you don’t have to pay anymore for it.
So which one is best?
Depends on what your project is! Is that vague enough? They all have their pros and cons as far as features and price. The Walabot is the stand out winner for finding everything behind the wall, and the fact that it works through both drywall and concrete- but it’s also pretty pricey and requires an Android phone to work with it. The Zircon and Franklin ones both did great and finding studs, and both had their strengths and struggles with finding pipes/wires, etc. Depending on your price point, you’ll likely be happy with either of those if the Walabot is out of your price range. As for the humble CH Hanson, for 8 bucks, it certainly is convenient to have around.
Hope this information is helpful. Let us know if there’s a stud finder you swear by!
Here is the video on YouTube if you’d like to see a the stud finders in action: