A good electricians’ tape measure is an absolute pleasure to work with.
A portable and lightweight case, a long standout, and a reinforced steel tang (or magnetic, if you’re into that).
On the other hand, a poor-quality tape measure is a frustrating waste of time, with a short standout and a case that can’t stand a 2 foot fall.
To help you separate the good from the bad – we’ve reviewed the Top 5 Electricians Tape Measures of 2020.
Buy with the confidence that you’re buying one of the best electricians tape measures on the market.
Let’s dive straight into the reviews.
Best Tape Measures for Electricians
Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure
Milwaukee’s answer to drops, the most common cause of damage to tape measures on the work site, is a five-point reinforced frame design. Its main feature is this added strength and resistance to impact from falls. Moreover, like in the Klein Double Hook Magnetic Tape Measure, the blade has markings on both sides and has nylon bond blade protection, however, unlike the coating on the Klein, the coating on the Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure offers more protection comparatively, simply because of the process by which the coating is applied.
This 25-foot tape also comes with an architectural blueprint scale for aiding calculations and conversions. For the retraction brake mechanism, it merely provides a perforation at bottom of the frame where the measuring tape is exposed from and can be pressed on, to control retraction. Both the retraction and lock are considerably smooth.
It also takes a different approach to the belt clip, opting for a rigid wire clip making it difficult to clip on to your belt smoothly, in exchange for a stronger grip. However, falling within the same price range as the Klein Double Hook Magnetic Tape Measure, this product is also pricey, but it does justify its price to an extent.
- Five-point reinforced frame design and nylon bond blade protection offers superior strength and durability on the job site
- Double-sided markings on the tape increase readability
- Architectural blueprint scale provided on the backside of the tape for ease of reference
- Belt clip, when mounted, offers a secure grip
- Smooth lock and retraction mechanism make usage hassle-free and give an overall finesse to the product
- The belt clip is often too stiff and difficult to mount onto the belt
The Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure covers the bare essentials of what measuring tape needs to have, at an excellent price. Highly recommended as our number one electricians tape measure.
Stanley FATMAX Tape Measure
The Stanley FATMAX made for ease, efficiency, and durability on site. While it comes with a number of interesting features, two in particular set it apart from the rest; the Tru-Zero magnetic hook, and the quality of the blade. The Tru-Zero magnetic hook is strong enough to effortlessly hold up to four pounds. As a result, when attached to a metallic surface, the entire length of the tape can easily be extended without the magnet failing or getting displaced.
The blade is made to provide an astonishing 11-foot standout. Moreover, the first 4.5 inches, of Mylar Polyester coated blade, come with an additional Blade Armor coating and the 1-¼ inch width of the blade makes it easier to read as well.
The attention to detail here is admirable. It has ABS case with sufficient rubber over mold to make it resistant to impact from falls. The give between the Tru-Zero magnetic hook and the blade is the same as the width of the hook itself, ensuring consistency in inside and outside measurements.
Even the recoil speed, which might seem slow at first, has been tamed to prevent damage to the hook in case the blade is made to recoil from a large distance. While the FATMAX might be the pricier option in this list, at less than $25 it is definitely worth every penny.
- The hook provides strong magnetic hold
- Tru-Zero feature of the hook also ensures accuracy
- 11-foot blade standout allows for greater control on site
- Blade Armor coating on the first 4.5 inches ensures the protection of most used part of the tape
- Increased blade width and general resistance to abrasion makes it easier to read
- Ample rubber over mold provides durability
- Recoil can at times be too slow for user’s liking
- The lock may feel stiff to some users
This is perhaps the best tape measure for electricians. It offers quality features in all the areas that matter. The innovative blade and hook design combined with the build quality makes it both an effective as well as a durable tool for serious on-site work.
Klein Magnetic Tape Measure
The Klein Double Hook Magnetic Tape Measures brings an interesting blade design to the table. This particular feature is not as much about boasting a great build quality, as it is about enhancing user comfort. In this model, Klein went with an uncluttered marking system for the blade.
The numbers are large bold and easy-to-read, while every successive 1/8 inch marking is also represented with bolder longer lines, improving the readability of the scale. The markings are also double-sided so that readings can be taken even at difficult angles.
The magnetic hook also works on both angles to go with that and can be attached to conduits and steel studs. Conduits bending tables have also been printed on the backside of the blade to for quick calculations on the go.
The blade, which comes with a heavy-duty protective nylon coating, can also be controlled during retraction using a retraction speed brake provided on the underside. However, Klein does not give the kind of build quality you would expect from the priciest entry on this list.
- Double-sided tape with large marking makes it easily readable
- Hook design allows it to be used from the front, back and even the side in some cases
- Retraction break allows you to control retraction
- Almost 10 feet of standout
- Economical option
- Build quality is not very impressive. The rubber over-molding seems insufficient for site conditions and markings can fade despite nylon coating
- The magnetic strength of the hook tends to get weak over time
When it comes to ease of usage and price effective, this might be the best tape measure. The design decisions are taken in this model certainly show a consciousness of the user’s needs. The build quality is definitely a problem but in cases where tape usage is not too rough or frequent, this is might just be the best tape measure for electricians.
Greenlee Power Return Tape Measure
The Greenlee Power Return Tape Measure comes to you with perhaps the strongest and most reliable tape return mechanism on this list. Interestingly, it manages this level of mechanical performance despite also being the most compact tape measure on the list as well.
It seems that every decision Greenlee took regarding this tape was aimed setting it apart. The tape uses a click clock instead of a sliding one. The hook, though double-sided, is not magnetic, but is complemented by a nylon coated double-sided scale.
Considering that it considerably cheaper than our other contenders, it is also important to note the aesthetic prowess of this product. With its black rubber over-molded ABS casing and brushed metal sides, etched in the tastefully composed typeface depicting the length of the tape measure, the Greenlee Power Return Tape Measure is certainly meant to attract the viewer. But that does not mean that it compromises on strength.
However, one area where strength is comparatively less is the blade. At 1 inch thick, the blade fails to allow for the kind of standout that its counterpart manages, and thus, is too thin to qualify as the best tape measure for electricians.
- High performing and reliable spring return mechanism
- Double hook and double-sided scale increases functionality
- The compact body makes it easy to carry and store
- Click-lock design to reduce the effort of having slide the lock while taking measurements
- Visually appealing
- Blade width is too thin limiting the blade standout
- Metal side tend to get lose and give the impression flimsiness compromising on the feel of the product
The Greenlee Power Return Tape Measure is the decent product for the price it comes at. Despite having one very reliable feature, that is, the strong recoil, it lacks functionality in other areas, which are essential when looking for a worthy construction tape measure, such as robustness and blade quality.
Southwire Tape Measure
In the same price range as the Greenlee Power Return Tape Measure, the ETAPE Tape Measure comes with some more features as compared to the Greenlee tape measure. The unique feature that the ETAPE brings to the table is a special v-notched bottom that allows for stability on the various kinds of surfaces, reducing the need for there to be a flat smooth surface for accurate readings.
It also has a conduit hook, bold large markings for easy reading and a heat-treated spring for reliable retraction performance. In addition to that, you also get other standard features such double-sided hook and scale, and an extra-wide nylon coated blade.
However, the quality of the blade seems to be subpar. It is too thin and flimsy, with a meager 6 feet of standout, which severely limits its chances of success on a professional grade job, and thus being labeled the best tape measure for electricians.
- The v-notched shape allows for the possibility for measurements of various surfaces
- Conduit hook can make on-site work more efficient
- Heat-treated spring makes recoil action longer lasting
- Bold and double-sided markings on the blade increase readability
- The blade is too thin and flimsy
- Blade standout is 6 feet or less
Despite making an admirable attempt at incorporating all the features that more expensive tape measure can offer, the Southwire Tools & Equipment ETAPE Tape Measure just does not provide that kind of build quality that is required of an electrician tape measure, in order to sustain the abuse of the job site.
Do I need a tape measure?
If you are a carpenter, contractor, electrician, plumber, or associated with any kind of work that is hands-on, and requires you to take precise measurements and come up with solutions, designs, or proposal based on those measurements, chances are, that you do need a high-quality tape measure in your toolbox.
For electrical work, in particular, owning a tape measure is one of the essential prerequisites to being able to practice your craft. Owning well-made, reliable tools can be the difference between a comfortable an enjoyable work experience, and a tedious one.
Budget vs. Quality
Finding the balance between budget and quality is always a tricky balance to strike. In some case, it is good to try and reconcile the two, right down the middle, whereas sometimes, sacrificing on the quality to remain in your budget is the wise thing to do. However, when it comes to investing in tools, it is always a good idea to prefer quality over budget.
Tools are assets to your work, and the right tool can last you decades. Quality never comes cheap, but in the long run, the benefits outweigh the costs.
What features should I look for in a tape measure?
When looking for the best tape measure for electricians, the first and foremost thing to look for is build quality, since that is the greatest indicator of durability, which is what we are always aiming for with these investments. In order to assess quality, there are a few features we can look out for
· Recoil speed
Look at how the tape recoils. Is it smooth? Is it sporadic and uncontrolled? It is ideal to go for a tape measure that has a smooth but steady retraction. It can be appealing to witness a measuring tape retract the blade at lightning speed, however, it is crucial to remember that if recoil is too fast, it will damage the tape measure when retracting over a long distance. So even though fast recoil might work for shorter distances, overall balanced but smooth recoil is the way to go.
· Blade treatment
Some background research may be required for this one. But the simple principle is here. The marking of the blade of measuring tapes, fading is the most common failures in tape measures.
Since some fading is bound to happen eventually even in the best tape measure for electricians, any coating that is abrasion resistant and helps to prevent fading and prolong the lifespan of the markings is what you need to get if you are in search of the best tape measure for electricians.
· Magnetic strength
Since we are looking magnetic tape measures, one other important feature should be a magnetic strength. The basic purpose of a magnet is to eliminate the need for there to be another person to assist in taking measurements by holding the hook down.
Therefore it stands to reason that the magnet should be able to hold its position even when the entire length of the tape measure is extended. A good magnet can help in predicting the most accurate tape measure on site.
One other important feature for electricians is the blade standout, which basically means how far the blade can extend without buckling. A blade with a longer standout gives you more control and versatility.
One of the more neglected parameters, when people generally chose tape measures, is just the sheer amount of rough usage they will have to sustain on the site. Falls, abrasion, dirt, and dust are some of the very common trials that tape measures have to withstand. As such, you will need to find a tape measure that not only has a blade that is abrasion resistant but also comes with a body that is well equipped to take the beating of on-site work.
· Ergonomic; the comfort of usage
One last thing that you may have to think about is how the product behaves in your hands. Does it feel comfortable? Does it assist your way of working or do you have to struggle with it? The best tape measures for electricians will ideally, feel effortless to use. It is generally advisable to opt for one that is of a medium size and weight; not too large, not too small.
The former will be might difficult to carry in a pouch or hook onto your belt while the latter may compromise on the robustness required of such tools.
How often should you spend?
As mentioned earlier, the right tool can last for decades. But ultimately it depends on the product you got for. If you do not compromise on quality and choose a quality tape measure by a reliable manufacturer, you should not have to spend on a new one any time soon.
Considering all the pros and cons of all the tape measures reviewed, in relations to the nature of electrical work and needs of the electrician on site, as well as the characteristics to look for in an ideal tape measure, it is clear that the Stanley FATMAX 25’ Magnetic Tape is the best tape measure for electricians. It comes from a reliable manufacturer, offers the most features and the best quality and will prove to be the most successful investment out of all.
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