The 5 Best Tone and Probe Tracing Kits

Tone and Probe Tracing Kits

Tone and probe tracing kits provide exceptional tracing capabilities for a variety of low-voltage scenarios like data, telephone and wiring security alarms.

An internal wiring technician will find this equipment essential to his daily tasks. A quality tone and probe tracing kit will enable him or her to check wire pair voltages as well as to generate tagging tones along wires, which the tracing probes are then equipped to detect.

A high-quality tone and probe tracing kit will include high-quality amplifiers and tone generators, equipping technicians to trace and identify the single conductors and or cables within bundles no matter whether they are at the remote end or the midpoint.

There are a variety of tone and tracing programs on the market today providing exceptional tracing performance, and they have become safer and faster as well as easier to operate than ever before.

Let's take a look at five of the top tone and tracing probe kits on the market today and see how they compare.  

Comparing The Options

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

​The Fluke Networks Pro 3000 probe and tone generating kit is our top choice. This 1lb, analog tone and probe includes angled bed-of-nails clips as well as an RJ11 plug to connect to inactive networks, effectively locating and tracing wires, cables and wire pairs by transmitting loud tones up to 10 miles or 16 km.

It will provide 5 totally distinct cadences designed to isolate the individual wire pairs. In addition, it will also assess polarity and continuity by indicating red continuity and green and red for polarity in the case of a DC-powered wire pair.


One Fluke tone and probe user writes that he has used this particular kit in industrial environments extensively in order to trace the control circuits of equipment and machinery.


He describes it as essential to his daily work, writing that it is even better than more standard continuity testers because it possesses the ability to trace circuits over several conduits, meaning he doesn't have to open up a bunch of different junction boxes to discover whether the circuit he is searching for is actually there. 


Another thing he enjoys about this particular unit is that it enables him to trace circuits without any assistance- this is definitely a quicker method than having to use two people at a time.


The only problem he has with this tool is his coworkers 'borrowing' it. Another user who works in the computer and telecommunications industry says that it is an easy way to find wires in walls, writing that as long as the wires you are looking for aren't shorted together you'll be able to find the wire pretty quickly. 


He says that to ensure that you have located the correct wires, all you have to do is touch them together and you will hear the tone change, which will verify that they are indeed the correct pair. Definitely a quality tool at a reasonable price that you'll get a lot of use out of, whether in commercial or home-repair environments. 

Fluke Pro 3000 unboxing

Pros

  • Great user feedback
  • Easily finds wires behind walls
  • Eliminates need for two man teams when searching for circuits,
  • Quality case

Cons

  • Not the cheapest option

How to use a tone generator and probe to locate cables

WHAT ARE CUSTOMERS SAYING?

  • One user describes how easy it is to find wires located behind drywall.
  • His only qualm with the Fluke unit that he selected was that if there is a box with a bunch of electrical lines running into it, even if you separate out all of the different lines within the box to ensure that there is zero continuity between the separate lines, there's a tendency for the signal to overlap onto all the other lines.
  • For example, a box with three lines will get a signal on all three of them even though the tone generator was actually only attached to one of them. This tends to happen when all the lines are really bunched up together, which is the case inside of a box.
  • That said, with a little bit of patience and ingenuity he is generally able to detect the individual runs without too much trouble.
  • He has also determined that the greater the distance from the box the signal will drop off faster on non-connected lines than on connected lines.
  • Another user has written that he purchased a wire and cable tracing kit to locate an open circuit in his house- he was able to apply the tone to an outlet's wire that doesn't have any voltage and then trace the tone throughout the ceiling and into a spare room where they located burned wiring terminals.

How do tone and tracing probe kits work?

The way it works is that the tone generator will insert either an alternating or constant tone into the cable- the tone and probe will enable modification of that particular tone to one of the 5 cadences designed to isolate and individual wire pair within a multi-pair cable.

The probe will be able to identify this tone so that the cable location can be determined- that is when the speaker will amplify the tone so if you are tracing through a wooden barrier or drywall you will be able to detect it.

Final thoughts

If you are looking to purchase a tone and tracing kit, check out our comparison table above to get a sense of the best options on the market today.

 They are essential tools for electricians, network administrators, security installation professionals and a variety of other types of utility workers. The quality of the different tone & probe tracing kits is really good, we have seen, and the return on investment is pretty high with many users writing that their tone and probe tools are indispensable to them.

They also can save the home repairman a lot of money- rather than calling in a professional to do the job for them, they're able to use these tools to diagnose electrical problems and deal with them themselves.

Some of the common features of a tone and probe kit include three different methods of conductivity, a cordless phone interface, signal strength indicators, adjustable sensitivity and loudness controls, cadence shifting and selection tones, adjustable speakers, a carrying case and lanyard.


The Top 5 Team
 

We are a team of product researchers that specializes in assembling comprehensive buying guides. Our team has a variety of backgrounds, with a mixture of soft and hard sciences represented. Check out our About page to read more about our reviews and editorial process.

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