Wall Tie Detectors - The comparison test

I wrote a blog a few weeks back about the VA2 Wall Tie Locator, but I noted that the review was done in isolation and was not carried out as a direct comparison to the other longstanding (albeit no longer available) brands and models on the market.

To right this wrong, we were issued a wide range of other wall tie detectors (big thank you to PCA member Mike Thomas, although you were not alone in the offer) to give a true comparison of how they all stack up against one another. So which ones did we compare…

What devices did we compare?

The products/devices we compared included the following:

  • VA2
  • Hilti PS20 detector
  • Protovale: Imp Wall Tie Locator
  • White’s AF350
  • Whites – What I would consider a conventional wall tie locator, but exact model not known

The ‘Test’

This was about as simplistic as we could go. We had access to a 1950s semi-detached house and tested each device on a section of the gable wall, to see if they could establish the pattern of the ties. In conjunction with this, it was a bit of a personal test of ease of use.

Determining wall tie locations

This experiment didn’t really provide any major surprises. The vast majority of machines worked well and did exactly what they were meant to. Both the Whites, Protovale Imp and the VA2 were able to accurately find all the same ties. The exception to this was the Hilti which, to be honest, was a bit of a disaster. Maybe the device was too sensitive but ultimately, it inferred that there was twice as many ties as the others.

Ease of use

I have previously used the Whites machine so perhaps it had a slightly unfair advantage, but it was very easy to use. The large Whites device (AF350) was a bit cumbersome and looks like it would be more at home on a beach scanning for hidden treasure, but was simple enough to use and actually pretty well balanced. The handle extension was quite handy, giving the ability to check a larger area without the need for access equipment – always a bonus from an Health & Safety perspective.

I will confess, I had previously never used the Protovale Imp device, but was very pleasantly surprised. As the head of the product is separate from the rest of the device, it was very easy to use and quickly scanned the wall. Ergonomically I would say this was probably the best unit. From an aesthetic point of view, the older devices do very much look old and archaic, but they work…and work well. In fact, perhaps their greatest asset was simplicity.

If you read the previous review of the VA2 Wall Tie Locator, you will know I had a few issues with the temperament of the device. We did have a bit of a repeat incident, but again it did sort itself out and when working, did so well. I have since been advised that there is a reset button at the end of the device which should get you round this issue.


As previously alluded to, the majority of the machines did their job very well. However, the reality is that only two of the machines are realistically still available and the Hilti was awful.

This isn’t meant to be a sales pitch…it is just a simple truth. The VA2 doesn’t really give you any additional functionality over the older models and if you have either the Protovale Imp or Whites machines, then keep hold of them.

If you need to replace your device, or just have a love for new gadgets, then there is really only one option at present….

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