Best Circuit Tracer : best-selling picks of 2020
At the end of the day, the truth of the matter is that precision is always a priority when troubleshooting electronics. As it turns out, the best circuit tracer is one of the most resourceful tools you could have.
With one of these, you should be able to track whether your wiring is as it should be. This normally comes in handy when you are faced with a situation where several cables are tangled together.
The trick to getting the best out of one of these is to go for the one with a fast response. But then, like most tools for troubleshooting electrical problems, it's not easy to get such a circuit tracer. Because of this, we’ve put together a list of the top 10.
Let’s dive into it…
- 1 10 best circuit tracers- an expert’s review
- 2 Mid-range circuit tracers.
- 2.1 Amprobe CT-100 Current Tracer Kit
- 2.2 AT-6010 Advanced Wire Tracer Kit
- 2.3 Budget wire tracers
- 2.4 Triplett Fox & Hound HotWire Live Wire Tone and Probe Wire Tracing Kit
- 2.5 Power Probe PWP-PPECT3000 - ECT3000 Short/Open Electrical Circuit Tester
- 2.6 IDEAL INDUSTRIES INC. 61-534 Digital Circuit Breaker Finder with Digital Receiver and GFCI Circuit Tester
- 2.7 UCONTRO Underground Wire Locator Cable Tracker
- 2.8 Sperry Instruments CS61200 Sperry Circuit Breaker Finder/Locator and Gfci Tester
- 2.9 Extech CB10 Circuit Breaker Finder
- 3 Buying guide: everything you should know about choosing the best wire tracer
- 4 The working behind a circuit tracer
If you’re in a hurry, perhaps the comparison chart below will be resourceful. Do have a look at the top 3 picks you can get your hands in 2020.
Maximum voltage rating
10 best circuit tracers- an expert’s review
On to the main agenda, here are 10 of the best circuit tracers you can get for the money. Let’s start by looking at the best high-end options.
High-end circuit tracers
When budget is not a problem or you want to get the best of the best, I’d recommend getting either of these two circuit tracers.
When getting a bang for your buck is a priority, Idea Industries can totally be depended on. For starters, the accuracy is amazing. To add icing on the cake, the safety on the 61-955is just as good. Here’s more to look forward to on this circuit tracer.
First things first, it comes with adjustable viewing angles. Considering the display can be rotated, the results can easily be read even while in a vertical position. For the utmost convenience and the best results, it also has got 4 levels of sensitivity to make detection quite easy.
Speaking of convenience, it’s also worth mentioning that it’s got audible signals. This makes it quite easy to troubleshoot your wiring, right? Well, besides the audible signal, you’ll also find the display quite handy since it shows numeric values between 0 and 99.
When it comes to using this, you can easily recognize fuses and breakers. Additionally, it should be good enough to track wires behind walls and the same goes for any shorts or open circuits.
You should probably also know that you can use this to track circuits that are up to 600V AC/DC. The transmitter is also designed to work on both energized and un-energized circuits to give you amazing versatility.
- Features 4 levels of sensitivity
- It's easy to find shorts or open circuits with this.
- Comes with a display and audible signal
- Designed to track wires behind walls
- Ensure you follow the directions of use for best results
Amprobe is one of the most popular brands when it comes to electronics, right? Well, this being so, the AT-6020 will be yet another worthy addition to your set of electronic equipment. It’s quick, easy to use and accurate. Let’s check it out.
Starting with the design, it comes with a dip sensor. With this, you will find it easy to get into tight spots and as such, it should be good enough for residential or commercial use.
The receiver is also quite easy to use. It has got active and passive tracing methods. The latter allows you to use it with a transmitter whereas the former makes it easy to use without a transmitter.
For convenience and versatility, it features 4 tracing modes. The quick scan allows for long-distance wire detection. The precision mode detects faults behind walls the breaker identification, on the other hand, makes it easy to locate breakers. There's also the non-contact detection mode which uses passive tracing.
The breaker identification mode features an automatic sensitivity feature. This allows for both quick and easy breaker locations. You can also brace the breakers precisely without having to verify by turning them off.
- It has got 4 receiver tracing modes.
- It’s simple and easy to use
- Automatically identifies breakers.
- Works on energized and de-energized circuits
- Ensure you know how to use it first.
Mid-range circuit tracers.
On to the second section of our product reviews, let’s look at two amazing moderately-priced circuit tracers. You don’t always have to break the bank to get a decent performance.
As mentioned earlier, Amprobe is one of the best brands. Well, with the CT-100, you’ll get quite a lot in a small unit. Let’s dive into it.
With easy usage being a priority, you won’t have to interrupt power while using this. To add icing on the cake, the tracer features 3 different sensitivity settings. With these, it stands out to be one ofthe best electrical wire tracers for residential and commercial use.
Besides being easy to use, it’s also got an amazing level of precision. The tracer has got a digital filter which functions to reduce noise. Upon doing so, you’ll end up with cutting edge accuracy. As far as industrial use is concerned, you couldn’t go wrong with this bad boy.
For the usage, it traces live wires from 9 to 300V AC/DC and the same goes for the breakers. It can also be able to trace unenergized wires plus it can detect shorts and ground faults.
As for the alert system, the included LED lights makes it quite easy to detect faults in both breakers and wires.
- Traces energized and unenergized wires
- Has got an LED indicator
- Comes with 3 sensitivity settings
- Locates breakers without power interruptions
- It’s not ideal for low volt work
On to the second one, we’ve got the AT-6010 from Amprobe. You’ll find it quite convenient if you want to troubleshoot your wiring without having to interrupt the circuitry. Here’s every reason you should get yourself one of these.
First, it has got a range of functions. You can be able to trace both energized and de-energized wires. To add icing on the cake, the AT-6010 can be used to pinpoint exactly where the fault is. For convenience, it also features both a visual and audible indicator which makes it handy for both residential and industrial use.
Something else that makes this the best live wire tracer is the included large screen. The receiver’s 2.5-inch LCD display gives you a clear indication of the signal strength. It's a 2-digit readout and you can also see the sensitivity level on the screen.
Since safety is a priority with electrical appliances, this one boasts the CAT III 600V safety rating. It can also be connected to an energized line for easy usage.
Speaking of easy operation, it features a straightforward one-button operation. Additionally, it comes with 2 measuring modes- the wire tracing and the short finding mode. What blew my mind with these modes is that the tracer can automatically change the frequency used. This is done depending on the voltage that's selected.
- Rated at CAT III 600V for safety
- Features a visual and audible alert system
- It has got a simple one-button control
- Works on both energized and unenergized circuits
- The ground has to be connected to a separate circuit
Budget wire tracers
Looking for a good enough circuit tracer for home use? This section is meant for you. Either of these 6 options should work well enough.
If you’re on a budget and looking to get a bang for your buck, this is the tracer for you. It comes with adjustable sensitivity, has an amazing alert system and you can use it on more than just live wires. Let’s have a closer look, shallwe?
Starting with the feature that I really enjoyed, this tracer has got visual and audible alert systems. To give you the utmost versatility, it is designed to generate either a pulse or a warble tone. Additionally, you will also have a visual continuity test.
One can be able to adjust the volume of the tone based on your surroundings. Additionally, you could also wear earphones for minimal disruption to those around you.
Something else that makes this the best wire tracer is the fast connections. You can be able to test a variety of cables using the included pointed, flat or alligator clip probes. It’s also worth mentioning that the unit was designed to test up to 250V AC/DC. This makes it eligible for use in your household.
Being one of the best fox and hound wire tracers in the market, it allows you to adjust the sensitivity. This can simply be done with the use of a thumbwheel. This makes it easy to locate wires behind drywall, plaster, wood, etc.
Also, besides just using it for live wires, you can use this to tone cable TV/COAX cables or any other kind of copper cables.
- Includes a thumbwheel sensitivity adjustment
- Features a visual and audible continuity test
- Can be used with earphones
- Features a rugged and durable design
- It receives AM radio signals at times.
Yet another tracer designed to give you a bang for your buck is the PWP-PPECT3000. Despite being a budget tracer, it is fast, accurate and can be used to work on more than just household appliances. Here’s what it packs under the hood.
First off, to save energy, it comes with an auto shut off feature. This is triggered after 10 minutes of inactivity. Since it runs on a pair of AA batteries, this feature should be really resourceful.
Standing out as one of the best automotive wire tracers, it can easily determine short circuits in your wiring. Once you have the transmitter connected to an isolated circuit, the tracer will determine if the circuit is open or shorted by receiving the signal emitted from the transmitter.
You can also be able to know the distance and direction and it has an adjustable height sensitivity too. Something else that blew my mind on this bad boy is the auto-locking signal distance indication from the source wire. There is also a directional indication of the short to make things easier for you.
- Has got an auto shit off feature
- Includes autolocking signal distance indication
- Feature adjustable height sensitivity.
- Easily detects shorted or open circuits
- The probe tips are a little too broad
It comes with the auto power-off feature, automatic circuit identifier plus it is designed to be as safe as a budget circuit tracer can get. Take a look at what it packs under the hood.
The included non-contact voltage sensor is from 80-300VAC. This allows for the automatic and quick detection of breakers for efficient breaker correction. The transmitter is also designed to work on 120VAC circuits.
For the auto power-off, the receiver turns off automatically when left unused for 10 minutes. To make this more convenient to use, it comes with a low battery indication. This way, you can always ensure that your tracer Is charged at all times.
To ensure safety and performance, it includes an automatic circuit identifier. This ensures that you always have proper wiring in your circuitry. At the end of the day, you'll be well protected from shock hazards and fires that could occur due to poor installation.
Something else that makes this the best electrical wire tracer s the branch circuit analysis. Designed to make it easy to analyze branch circuits, you’ll find this really resourceful when handling routine measurements, testing installed devices or the integrity of branch circuits.
Last but not least, it features a non-contact voltage sensor from 80-300VAC automatically. It’s also designed to detect breakers quickly.
- Has got an automatic circuit identifier
- Features auto power-off feature
- The transmitter works on 120VAC
- Designed to safely identify and analyze branch circuits
- The on/of switch is a little too easy to rigger
Want the best underground wire tracer? This ought to do the trick. The fact that it can be used with earphones makes this quite a resourceful tracer to use anywhere you’d want.
The first feature that I really appreciated on this bad boy is the thumbwheel switch. This will be really efficient for turning the unit on and also adjusting the output level on the front of the unit. Whereas this allows you to use it with the alligator clips, you can also switch the switch to choose a cable scan or battery test.
As far as durability s concerned, this bad boy is constructed with high impact plastic which makes it quite convenient to use both indoors and outdoors.
Regarding the alert system, not only does this allow for audible signal detection, but it also has a visual LED indicator. It's also worth mentioning that the receiver is also designed to filter AC power-related noise.
- It’s compatible with earphones
- Has got a visual LED indicator
- Filters out AC power-related noise
- Built of the high impact plastic
- It doesn't have a sensitivity to locate partial breaks
Coming up second last on our reviews is the CS61200 from Sperry Instruments. Considering this bad boy features a UL listing which makes your work safer. It also features a convenient signal detection system and amazing fuse protection. Here's every reason you should check it out.
For the alerts, you’ll have a visual LED visual indication and to add icing on the cake, it also features an audible alert. With the combination of these two, troubleshooting your circuitry should be easy and fast at all times.
Yet another feature that I really appreciated on this is the smart meter technology. With this, there'll be no need for adjustment dials. At the end of the day, this should be a good enough circuit tracer even if you're using one for the first time.
For easy placement and operation, there are magnets located on the tester. The nested design of the tone generator also means that the units will not be separated during transport or storage.
- Includes audible and visual indications
- Includes a magnetic back for easy attachment
- Designed to operate at 120V AC.
- Includes the smart meter technology
- Ensure you read the directions for best use
Finishing up our reviews is the Extech CB10. It features convenient signal indications, includes a safety rating, allows for easy storage and plenty more. Here's what there is to look forward to…
First things first, the transmitter and receiver can easily snap together. With this being possible you can then be able to transport it with ease.
To make this good enough for professional use, you don’t have to flip the breakers to other circuits. Instead, you will easily locate branch circuit breakers and confirm proper wiring during electrical wiring installation or repair.
As far as safety is concerned, the Extech CB10 is both UL listed and CE approved. Besides the amazing safety rating, it also features an easy to read CFGI test indicator. The bright red and green LED lights basically indicate whether the receptacle is correctly wired or indicate one of the six fault conditions.
Last but not least, the sensitivity can be adjusted with ease. This makes it quite convenient in pinpointing correct circuit breakers.
- Includes red and green LED indicators.
- Features an easily portable design
- The sensitivity level is adjustable.
- It is UL listed and CE approved
- The sensitivity button is a little too sensitive
Buying guide: everything you should know about choosing the best wire tracer
To complement the review of the best wire tracer on the market above, here’s what you should narrow down on when choosing a circuit tracer.
An indication system
First things first, it's important that you get the state of the circuit with the utmost ease. The best way to do this would be with an audible beep or an LED indication system. Even better, you could choose one that has both indication systems just to be on the safe side.
The testing capabilities.
Alongside the LED indication, you should keep in mind that there are set standard testing capabilities of circuit tracers. For instance, with the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GCFI) is a standard of wire connecting systems. With this considered in the design of a circuit tracer, you should conveniently be able to test for faults.
The build quality and design
Yet another important feature to watch out for is the material from which the circuit tracer is made. Since this is among the few tools you’ll be using at all times, go for the best build quality you can find. The trick here is to go for one with as much endurance as possible.
I’d recommend one with a rugged design and shock absorption feature built into it as well. This will really come in handy especially if you want the best automotive wire tracer. Additionally, you should also make it a priority to pick the ones with high-quality prongs.
Ratings and certifications.
As expected, this is a feature that most of the best live wire tracers have. Like most electrical tools, it should be a priority to go for one that has ideal standards of certification needed for testing. These alone should be good enough to guarantee accuracy and safety when troubleshooting electrical circuits.
The working behind a circuit tracer
I like to think of mine as a blessing since it’s really easy to use. For starters, the alert system is amazing and like the most top of the line circuit tracers, it is dependent on 3 different aspects.
What this does is quite self-explanatory. The transmitter transmits a signal which is obtained from the circuit. The sole purpose of a transmitter is telling the user whether or not the state of the circuit is okay.
Once the signal is picked up by the transmitter, it is then received by the receiver. This is also where the indicator is from which you should get the results of what you have been testing. The receiver needs a battery and is quite easy to operate when need be. If you're lucky, you could get a receiver with a buzzer that will make working with one of these easy.
You do know what detects and indicates a fault in your system. Now, let’s look at what links the transmitter and receiver. The probe houses a sensor that handles the communication between the transmitter and the receiver.
Within the probe are an electrical sensor, a differential field sensor, and an inductive sensor among others. All of these work together to determine whether or not the circuitry is as it should be.
I believe that by now, you have everything you need at your fingertips to get the best circuit tracer. Besides just having the best, I'd also like to emphasize the importance of knowing how to use one well enough.
Also, be sure to adhere to all the safety guidelines of use as recommended by the manufacturer. Additionally, depending on how you’ll be using it, weigh out your options and consider the best electrical wire tracer to go for- we’ve got it all.