Following an unfortunate incident where I drilled through a cable, I
am looking for a slightly better detector than the zircon stud
detector that I was using at the time (before you ask - I did have it
set to AC rather than wood and the cable was only just below the
I thought Zircons were supposed to be the best for stud detection but
IME it hasn't been very useful.
What do you recommend for voltage (domestic AC) detection and what
about metal detection for avoiding pipes? Are the brand names more
reliable than the no-names?
What about these no contact voltage pens? Are they any good for
finding wires in walls?
Probably as good as your Zircon = useless.
The cable has to be very close to the surface and with the live wire
nearest the voltstick (voltage pen). The larger the live surface area,
the further away it can be detected.
Despite the above, well worth having one in your tool box for their
intended use - get a Fluke voltstick, they are the best one I have
Back in the 60s, I used a converted old hearing aid with a coil on a bit of
wire to detect the hum from a mains cable as it wandered around a wall. it
worked better than I expected,indeed, better still if a load was on the
other end of the cable at the time. I don't know how these new fangled
devices work, but it may well be that if a load is on said cable, the
magnetic flux around the wire will be easier to detect.
Brian Gaff - firstname.lastname@example.org
Note:- In order to reduce spam, any email without 'Brian Gaff'
Just triued my Fluke voltstick. My cables are under 1/4"-3/4" plaster inside
oval conduit and some in round. I know exactly where they are because I put
them there. No foil lined plasterboard - just regular plaster on brick.
The Fluke has two indications - red=very strong and blue=near and the flush
pulsates with a frequency related to E-field strength.
1) 3/4" deep - zero indication.
2) 1/4-1/2" deep - some slow pulsating blue, flashing fastest dead center of
Conclusion - if it can see the cable at all, I would give it +/- 2" for
It is highly likely to miss deeper cables. Ifyou have plasterboard, or
worse, foil backed PB, forget it.
It's not what voltsticks ar edesogned for - they are for detecting very
short range E-fields through a bit of plastic.
Thanks for experimenting. They were just one thought I had. What about
other devices, such as these:
which has poor reviews, or
or any similar device?
I had one that was far too sensitive for use in a junction box, but
would have been excellent for finding buried cables. It would light up
at least 50mm from a live cable. It was replaced by a Fluke jobbie
that only lights within a couple of mmm of a cable.
I have one similar to this
2 but coloured yellow ... Excellent at checking if the mains is on at a
plug, socket or along a cable/wire .. I doubt I'd trust it on a cable
buried in the wall, though I've never tried .. might give it a test
Paul - xxx
"You know, all I wanna do is race .. and all I wanna do is win"
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.