Best Wire Tracer – 2023 Buying Guide

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

If you need to locate and track the position of wires, then a wire tracer is the tool for you. The problem is it can be hard to compare the wide variety of options.

This article includes everything you need to know about the various factors when weighing your options. It also contains a list of the six best wire tracers in 2023.

Table of Contents

Top Three

Klein Tools Cable Tracer
  • Includes a professional-grade analog tone generator and tracing probe for open-ended, non-energized wiring.
  • Toner-Pro features 5 distinct tone cadences and transmits 1,000+ feet.
  • Rugged Angled Bed of Nails (ABN) clips securely attach to wires.
  • RJ11 plug easily connects to the telephone, and RJ45 data jacks to tone wire pair.
Wire Tracer Electrical Circuit Tracer
  • Quick & Accurate Network Cable Collation: The cable tracer can search for wires in various applications, including buried wires, single-stranded wires, broken wires, etc. 
  • Flexible Tone Generator Wire Tracer: The wire toner tracer receiver is equipped with an adjustable sensitivity dial, allowing you to trace a wire in congested places accurately. 
Sperry Instruments ET64220 Wire Tracker
  • Adapter plugs include: RJ-45, RJ-11, coax, automotive fuse blade and insulated clamps
  • Audible and visual indication
  • Adjustable sensitivity and positively identifies a single wire when multiple wires are routed in close proximity
  • Operates from (2) AAA batteries for the transmitter and (4) LR44 batteries for the receiver (included)

Factors to Consider When Buying

Wire Tracing Method

There are two types of methods that wire tracers can use. The first is ‘active,’ which transmits an electrical signal into the wire you intend to trace. The other method is  ‘passive,’ which also tracks an electrical signal but does not transmit its own. Instead, it tracks an electrical signal that already exists within the wire.

Voltage Ratings

Voltage ratings measure how much energy can pass through a tracer before it becomes at risk of damage or operationally inaccurate. Think about what voltages you may need to trace with your new tool, and with that in mind, come up with the maximum voltage you will require. Then, choose a wire tracer with a voltage rating higher than your maximum.

Probe Size

Probes are the long, skinny object on the tip of a wire tracing tool. They come in varying lengths, with longer probes generally more accurate and easier to use. Seven inches is the standard length, but cheaper models can have shorter probes, and more premium models may have longer probes. 

Tracing Range

This factor is important if you are looking for an active wire tracer. The tracing range is the strength of a tracer’s transmitted signal. Stronger signals have a higher trading range. The tracing range doesn’t matter as much if your needs revolve mostly around in-home work. You should probably look for a strong tracing range when you move up to commercial operations with extremely long cables.

Depth Estimation

Depth estimation is a feature of some cable tracers, but it is not in all of them. This feature lets you see how far a wire is underground into a wall or ceiling space. Whether or not this feature to you depends entirely on whether you will need to know the depth estimation of the cables you are tracing.

Additional Features

There is also a range of other additional features that may come with a wire tracer. Whether they provide more information, have better usability, or are for unique needs, they will save you time.

Cost

When buying any product, the cost is a major consideration. It’s important to remember that spending more will often yield better results, so try to consider how accurate your readings need to be and how often you’ll be using the device. A budget or mid-range model will likely be sufficient if it’s mainly simple DIY projects. If you run a large commercial operation, it would be worth spending more money for better quality.

Warranty Period

Many wire tracers will come with a warranty attached to them. It could be for a short period (3-6 months) or as long as a lifetime guarantee. Normally longer warranties will cost you more, so consider the importance of being guaranteed a refund or replacement.

Best Wire Tracers

1. Klein Tools Cable Tracer

Klein Tools Cable Tracer

Features & Benefits

  • Firstly, it includes a tone generator, which alerts you to potential objects in the way of a wire.
  • Additionally, it features a 3.5mm headphone jack for use in noisy locations.

Downsides

  • It is not overly accurate and detects a lot of static.

Customer Reviews

Worked well for electrical installations in a new home.

How to Use

The product has angled bed of nails (ABN) clips, which work similarly to alligator clips. Simply squeeze the top of the clip, and it will open. Then, slide the wire into the opening and release pressure.

2. Wire Tracer Electrical Circuit Tracer

2. Wire Tracer Electrical Circuit Tracer

Features & Benefits 

  • Firstly, the tone generator has a sensitivity dial for improved usability.
  • Secondly, the product has a one-year warranty.

Downsides

  • The warranty doesn’t promise a refund or replacement. It merely says they will try to fix your problem.

Customer Reviews

Works well for a budget model.

How to Use

To control the mode of operation, locate the three-position switch and rotate it into the desired setting. Adjust the volume of tones with the dial on the side.

3. Sperry Instruments Wire Tracker

Sperry Instruments Wire Tracker

Features & Benefits

  • Firstly, it runs on just two triple-A batteries.
  • Furthermore, there are both audible and visual indications, providing flexibility.

Downsides

  • The batteries can be a challenge to replace due to a difficult-to-open compartment.

Customer Reviews

Does the job well and is great to take from job to job.

How to Use

This tracer automatically turns off after a short period of no use. Simply turn it back on if this happens. To adjust sensitivity, use the dial on top of the device.

4. PTE™ Wire Tracer & Circuit Tester

PTE™ Wire Tracer & Circuit Tester

Features & Benefits

  • Firstly, it contains a variable sensitivity dial for increased usability.
  • Also, the product includes a 12-month warranty.

Downsides

  • It does not operate reliably and can sometimes stop working suddenly.

Customer Reviews

Perfect for DIY projects around the house.

How to Use

There are a few different modes. Use Tone Mode to detect the location of wires. Use CONT mode to find short and open circuits.

5. Underground Wire Tracer

Underground Wire Tracer

Features & Benefits

  • Firstly, the audio tones have an adjustable volume knob.
  • Furthermore, an LED torch helps in dark environments.

Downsides

  • It cannot detect live cables.

Customer Reviews

Helped find a break in a 1-acre buried dog fence.

How to Use

With this device, you can enhance the signal strength by using screw knives or metal rods to create a ground stud.

6. Extech TG20 Wire Tracer

Extech TG20 Wire Tracer

Features & Benefits

  • Firstly, it works from 20 degrees up to 550 degrees.
  • Furthermore, there are adjustable sensitivity controls to prevent errors.

Downsides

  •  Has a low trading range.

Customer Reviews

Perfect for converting my internet to a cable-based setup.

How to Use

This product is very easy to use. Wire identification occurs automatically, and you can control sensitivity using a simple dial.

Conclusion

When choosing your next wire tracer, there are a few factors to consider. You need to decide whether you prefer an active or passive method. You also need to determine the voltage rating you require. Other factors to consider include tracing range, probe length, and more.

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