Harbor Freight has launched a new Franklin Sensors stud finder model. Wait, what?!
The new Franklin ProSensor M150 looks to be be an evolution of their recognizable stud finder design, but with a new sensor arrangement that puts the indicator LEDs closer together for greater resolution.
And, there are “lightning bolt” indicators that illuminate amber when the stud finder detects live AC wires.
The M150 stud finder is 5″ long and has a sensing depth of 1.5″. The closer LED positioning should show the edges and centers of studs with greater precision than their earlier models.
Franklin Sensors’ website says this model is coming soon. I can’t find the same model for sale at other retailers yet. Franklin Sensors has had retailer exclusives before, but usually under private label brands such as at Costco.
Harbor Freight is also now carrying two other Franklin Sensors stud finders, the M10 at $13 and M50 at $25. The M150 shown above is priced at $35.
Now, I believe I’ve seen one or two 3rd party brands at Harbor Freight before, but in the form of small supplies or hardware. Since when did Harbor Freight start carrying and selling brand-name tools??
Is this new and unexpected, or something that’s been going on for a while without my noticing?
What makes things even more surprising is that this is a new and upgraded model, with higher resolution LED positioning, AC circuit detection, and a much lower price than Franklin Sensors’ popular ProSensor 710+ stud finder tool.
We reached out to Harbor Freight, asking to talk about what this means, but have not heard back.
Buy Now via Harbor Freight
Compare: Older Model via Amazon
Oh, things are getting even more interesting.
Harbor Freight’s 2 Pittsburgh models of stud finders, with weak user reviews, are said to be on clearance.
Does this mean Goodbye Harbor Freight Pittsburgh-branded stud finders, hello Franklin Sensors?” And, would this be a good move in other tool categories?
With so very many Harbor Freight stores, and more opening all the time, they have incredible buying and negotiating power.
As I said before, do not underestimate Harbor Freight!
With the Franklin Sensors M150, they now have an upgraded stud finder, and it’s lower priced too, compared to what you can find at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Amazon. At the time of this posting, I could only find the M150 listed at Harbor Freight.
Yes, the M150 is said to be available in-store only, but it’s still a new tool that Harbor Freight looks to have gotten their hands on before industry giants such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Oh, and one more thing – early user reviews are saying that the stud finder is Made in the USA.
I’m glad to see this – this style of stud sensor is my favorite, and I regularly give them as gifts to friends and family who either need one, or who would appreciate the upgrade. These are far superior to traditional stud sensor designs from a usability perspective in my experience. If they’re making choices that put better tools on the shelf, I’m all for it.
This could be a placeholder until either Harbor Freight can rank up production on their own Private Label brand or they are gauging interest.
Sears used to do this all the time with certain tools. They would have something with the brand name out then later when they would do a Plan-O-Gram reset you would see the exact same thing only with a Craftsman Label.
Will the 20% off coupon apply? That would be the tipping point for me to get one.
Yes, the 20% off will work. Apparently the coming soon is wrong. I bought the m150 for my dad about 3 weeks ago in store. I had seen it there a couple of weeks before. I dont think he has tested it out yet, but if it works like the previous models, then its well worth the money, even at full price.
interesting choice of item but I like seeing them move to better stuff. Doesn’t really feel like a good fit though.
Nothing against the item but I go to HF to get knock offs of other things.
Put another way – say they started selling Lennox blades tomorrow. If I saw them in the HF store my first thought would be they are older style discontinued items and thus overpriced on the HF shelf.
Does that make sense? I guess I’m just more dubious of their items in general, which doesn’t stop me going there to get a new wheel for my garden cart
I used to think of HF the same way- good place to get a cheap knock-off for one-time use but not great if you want something that’s going to last, this viewpoint was reinforced because the only HF in my town was located in the lower-income area of the city. But lately my opinion is shifting- I went to a new store the other day to get a random orbit sander and I was impressed by how well stocked and well kept it was. The recent move towards higher quality power hand tools is obvious- Chicago-Electric is still bottom-barrel stuff, but Bauer and Hercules tools seem well made and well designed. I went with the Bauer 5-in random orbit sander because of its price ($35) but I was surprised by the quality feel of the Hercules- it seemed just as solid and heavy-duty as any Yellow, Red, or Teal version I’ve ever picked up. The big boxes should be careful or they will wake up one day soon to find their market share (at least in the tool section) shrinking fast due to HF’s aggressive pricing and reasonable quality.
The location aspect is unlikely to change. Part of their model has been placing stores in areas where rent is not a premium. That helps contain their costs.
As for them moving upstream, I think that’s easier if they carry brands people know and trust, but it could take a decade to do that with house brands given the reputation they built for themselves over the decades they have been in business. I’m one of those people that will remain skeptical and when the price delta between their house brand and some other known quantity is minimal. There is almost no motivation for me.
I hear what you’re saying, and I agree.
I think the reason people enjoy HF is the feeling that they’re getting a good deal, with a bit of a toss of the dice on quality.
We’ve all looked at things like sandpaper, single-use paint brushes, garden cart wheels, etc. at the big box stores, and been happy to pay 1/2 their price at HF.
If they pull away from this fundamental, I think it would dilute their brand.
Low tech and works like a champ! https://www.amazon.com/CH-Hanson-03040-Magnetic-Finder/dp/B000IKK0OI/
I have two of these and they are great, but… these are on different levels.
The person before me that missed the stud and left the screw/nail in the wall means that this magnet version made me the next one to screw up.
Doug in Post Falls
Seconding this. Great for the house, even better for commercial buildings.
So perhaps on the lower end of the tool market HF is effectively replacing the (thank you Wall Street) defunct Sears?
“…that puts the indicator LEDs more closer together…”
Grammar nitpick but if it was my article that’d be online for years, I’d want to fix it.
Glad to see that at least one more card-carrying member of the Grammar Police reads this blog. I noticed that too…
That’s what happens when “more densely” is stuck in mind, but “closer together” seems a better fit, we get “more closer.”
One of my greatest frustrations is in finding errors weeks, months, YEARS after the fact that I never caught and nobody ever corrected me on.
I don’t feel too bad, given how many major misspellings, grammatical flops, and duplicate words, sentences, and paragraphs news organizations editors have been letting get past them.
In that case, you should know that the first sentence of the article refers to “Franlin Senesors”. You also use an incorrect possessive form (“Franklin Sensor’s”) later on, and at one point you duplicate “only” in the phrase, “only available in stores only”.
Yikes! Thanks – fixed!
This was funny to read.
Yes, my kind of humor as well. Too many times I type a quick text message, only to later find that my mind sees the corrected version of what my wayward fingers have left behind.
Thus one of favorite videos, the Grammar Nazis.
‘were’ would be the correct usage:
“Grammar nitpick but if it were my article that’d be online for years, I’d want to fix it.”
My local HF carries Poulan Pro outdoor products, not sure if that’s common at all of them though?
Mike (the other one)
On page 15 of their online catalog, there is a Poulan Pro chainsaw. I noticed it yesterday, and it surprised the **** out of me.
Theres ToughBuilt knee pads thats new. Not exactly a high end brand but one that clearly not there own.
I saw that too, was saving it for the next post. =)
I bought a 3M Hard hat (lower grade) that I thought was a HF knockoff. My reason was the wife nagging me when I was working with a pole saw and had a close encounter with a branch. I didn’t realize it was 3M until I actually opened it up,
Could it be that some things aren’t worth knocking off?
You go in because you see they are carrying brand names and then buy stuff you don’t necessarily need.
The HF in my area was going out of business last year. Had clearance signs and going out of business signs. The signs suddenly disappeared and the store looks like normal again.
Mission creep. A few other name brands have been appearing on their shelves recently. It may be an opportunity for a competitor to spring up, as HF leaves the bargain basement.
I think it’s the opposite. Everyone else has gotten in the bargain tool world as the quality of cheap tools has risen so Harbor Freight has been putting out higher quality stuff to compete with Lowes and Home Depot.
HF used to sell name brand items. I found an old catalog that has Milwaukee and Dewalt among several others.
Harbor freight has sold meguires car products and gorilla brand adhesives for a while now. As well as wd40. But I think this is a first for tools
Along with Frog tape, Evaporust, Rustoleum paints, and quite a few more if I dig further.
They have had a small number of name brand items for as long as I have been shopping there. The only tool I recall is a mityvac pump set. Unfortunately it is vacuum only, I wish their carried the vacuum and pressure version. I wonder if they will expand any name brand since they seem to be targeting other audiences with their icon tools.
HF is definitely moving ahead in terms of quality; I picked up the 12″ Hercules miter saw on sale, with a 20% coupon and it’s been a champ.
I will say, however that some of their price points are fast approaching Blue, Yellow and Red brands. This may be somewhat justified, however I don’t think it would be wise to let go of the lower price model that’s been their success.
No matter what, if I can get comparable items for the same price, HF will always be second to DeWalt, Makita or Milwaukee.
The Franklin stud sensor is a great tool. But, if I didn’t know that already and I saw it at Harbor Freight, I’d think it was junk and just pass it by.
l wonder how “name brands” will be impacted long-term by their association with HF? Is a quick buck worth sacrificing the brand? It’ll be a long time, if ever, before HF can re-brand themselves into a distributor of quality tools. Also, they have been very successful as the number one supplier of marginal tools and I wonder why they want to give up their solid grasp on that niche just to compete with the big boys.
Mike (the other one)
I think more people are aware of the poor quality/single use/disposable junk that HF was/is known for, so they have been trying to up the quality.
The problem is, if they source better products, then the price goes up, which means the cost saving isn’t as good or even nonexistent.
If that’s the case, then it makes more sense to go with a reputable brand. Personally, I think it’s a very good thing.
The last ~15 years HF has become my go-to tool store.
I long ago gave up on walking into the nearest Sears and getting the Craftsman tool I needed (let alone a warranty exchange). The Big Boxes were always a crapshoot, but I could always find some version of whatever hand tool I needed at HF.
As HF continues their move upmarket, I find myself doing in the same decision tree, but just inside HF instead of before heading out:
1) How good of a version of this tool do I need? (super cheap, mid-grade or pro?)
2a) Is the cheap HF one just trash out of the box?
2b) Is the “mid grade” one actually better than the HF one, or just more expensive but still failure prone?
HF has always carried a number of name brand products, not a lot but they do. These days very little for tools but they used sell Milwaukee & Skil. They didn’t carry a lot of a specific name brand’s line of tools though. In the eearly 2000s I bought a 3M mask/respirator from them. I also purchased a SAS face mask from them.
Stuart et al-
Im a long time reader, infrequent commenter. You and you team are smart and talented “tool writers”. May I suggest rather than focusing solely on “more stuff” ( which I love)- you allow- properly vetted-“ how to do stuff “and also “where to buy”. Specifically rather than big box stores- Nothing beats( for me at least) amazing discoveries at local mom and pop hardware stores( many of which, contrary to the main street media narrative, many still exist) . Please directly let me know what you think. Again, thank you for all the effort and ability that you out put into your blog.
I just saw all of these stud finders at Walmart that were branded Hart..I didn’t look close enough to verify apples to apples
Yeeeeeeears ago, I got a name-brand Magna Cart folding hand-cart at my local HFT. It surprised me then too, but it appears genuine and is still with me after all this time, unlike literally everything else I bought from them that long ago….