You probably know someone who will test the limits of corny jokes by holding a stud finder and saying "beep!" to himself. Maybe you're the one…or maybe I'm the one. The Ryobi Whole Stud Detector won't cut down on bad (dad) jokes, but it will help you quickly find studs behind drywall. After using the Franklin Prosenser T6 and others like it, we wanted to see how the Ryobi ESF5002 stud finder compared to the best stud finders out there.
Ryobi Integral Stud Finder First Impressions
The Ryobi Whole Stud Detector (or Ryobi Stud Finder, as I believe some will call it) uses 7 green LED lights to indicate the entire width of a 2×4 stud. We've found this to be much more accurate than stud finders that offer a single LED. These tools leave a lot of ambiguity about exactly where the stud starts and ends. When you want to drill and drive a 1/4" fastener to secure a TV mount or wood storage shelf, you definitely don't want to end up at the edge of a 2×4.
Ryobi replaced their previous wide stud finder with this new finder. As light as it is, it's now ergonomically fitted in your hand with an upright orientation. The last stud finder felt like a two-handed tool – the Ryobi ESF5002 can definitely be used with one hand.
Using the Ryobi Stud Finder
A side-mounted button both calibrates and activates the stud finder. Place the stud finder on the wall, press the button, and slide it from left to right to find the nearest stud underneath the drywall. A green LED directs you and confirms the centering of the stud.
With this mod, Ryobi did a really cool thing. The center button lights up when you've found the exact center, while the top-mounted green LED indicates you've reached the stud left or right. With this feature, you never have to worry about swiping too far left or right. Ryobi's entire stallion department takes all the guesswork out of the process.
Reviewer's Note: Because these stud finders use capacitance, you'll want to keep your hands off the wall while probing. Also try to keep your hand on the tool so as not to interfere with the sensor.
Ryobi ESF5001 and ESF5002 Stud Finders
The Ryobi ESF5002 Full Stud Finder marks the company's second smart tool in this field. First, the horizontal model really requires two hands to operate. It also includes AC detection. While the newer model lacks AC detection, ergonomic improvements make it an even better tool. We also had little success with AC detection, since false positives would make the feature less useful (or inconsistent).
Mark studs when found
We need to hang our new Youtube Award – for over 100,000 subscribers on the Pro Tool Reviews Youtube channel. This is a great opportunity to test the Ryobi Whole Stud Detector. We can also easily measure the tool's accuracy because we know exactly where the studs are (recently did a drywall job for the entire shop).
Once you roll the Ryobi Integral Stud Finder across the wall, you will soon begin to see LEDs indicating you to continue or back up in one direction. It will navigate for you until the middle LED lights up and the side arrows turn off. At that time, the halo around the center marker button will also light up.
At this point, all you have to do is press the button. This pushes the sharp plastic point into the drywall, making a mark so you know where to drill holes and/or drive fasteners.
This Ryobi stud finder measures capacitance with almost any electronic stud finder. Since it uses this method, it can be difficult to get accurate results with wallpaper that has metal foil or fibers in it. Plaster with metal mesh is also problematic.
You should also note that Ryobi only mentions that the detector is able to find the studs behind the drywall. While they didn't explicitly rule out other materials, it was clearly designed with drywall in mind.
the bottom line
The Ryobi Whole Stud Detector (or Ryobi Whole Stud Finder, if you prefer) has a useful design, with seven green LEDs indicating the border and center of the stud. Many stud finders simply provide an audible alarm or obscure stud areas. This detector does not make any guesses. It shows you the left and right edges and lights up clearly when locating the exact center of the stud.
Press the center button to easily mark the center of the stud on the wall. The Ryobi ESF5002 Stud Finder makes it easy and quick to locate studs behind drywall. The felt pads help it glide easily over walls, though it can get bumpy on some rough textures. It's also lightweight and compact, and runs on two AAA batteries. For $30, we think you can get a really accurate and reliable stud finder.
- Detects entire studs behind drywall
- Automated deep scan technology accurately assesses drywall thickness
- Built-in stud markers
- Multiple LEDs to see entire stud
- Detection of materials behind walls (metal, wood)
- one-handed operation
- Center indicator LED ring lights up when stud center is found
- Includes: Entire Stud Finder, 2 AAA Batteries (Installed), and Owner's Manual
Ryobi Integral Stud Finder Specifications
- Model: Ryobi ESF5002
- Battery Type: 2 x AAA (included)
- Maximum Wall Thickness: 1.5 inches
- Wood and Metal Detection
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 7 x 1.25 inches
- Price: $29.97
- Warranty: 3 years