Top 10 Best Wire Strippers
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If you are searching for the best wire stripping tool in the market, today’s post is for you.
Whether you are trying to fix wiring of your old house or undertaking a commercial electrical installation project, a reliable and handy wire stripper can make a big difference in your fatigue level and frustration that occurs when you have to strip a hundred wires and your wire stripper is slowing you down.
Even if you’re not a professional, you would never want to be in that position when you’re up on a ladder trying to fix the wiring of your ceiling fan and your wire stripper is either completely cutting the wire off or not removing the insulation in a single pass leaving you stuck in an awkward position.
To save you from such situations, we will first rank the 10 best wire strippers followed by best wire strippers for thicker gauge wires. After that, we’ll present the most important factors to be considered when choosing a wire stripper for educating our readers. Finally, we’ll answer some common buyer’s guide questions.
Best for Electricians: Klein 11055 (and the Overall Best)
Runner-up: Irwin Vise-Grip 2078309
Best for Electronics & Automotive: Irwin Vise-Grip 2078300
Best Multipurpose Wire Stripper: Klein J215-8CR
Best for HVAC Technicians & Mechanics: Klein 11061
Best for thicker gauge wires: Klein Kurve 11053
Wire stripper is an indispensable tool for Electricians, HVAC technicians, Electronics technicians, contractors, DIYers and homeowners.
Sometimes its value is not realized in front of all the fancy hand and power tools available in your tool kit, however, this good old simple tool is used most frequently and that is why you need to carry a good wire stripper in your tool belt that fits your work requirement.
After a lot of market research, we give you the 10 best wire strippers to make you more efficient in your work.
Best Wire Stripper for Electricians
Our Rating: 9.5 / 10
The number one best wire stripper we found is Klein Tools model 11055 wire stripper and cutter. It strips 10-18 AWG solid wires and 12-20 AWG stranded wires. Its wire stripping notches are precision made with sharp slots that strip wires effortlessly.
This tool is best for taking care of your residential and commercial wiring applications.
Whether you are a Sunday afternoon electrician trying to install a 100-amp panel in your barn or a union electrician using the tool for a living, this wire stripper will be your handy companion. It will be the only wire stripper you’ll need for apartment maintenance as well as if you are an appliance repair technician. It will cut 6/32 and 8/32 screws as well as the softer transformer leads with ease. It will never let you down in your DIY electrical work either.
Stripping wires up to 18 AWG, its reliability and wire stripping precision for majority of electrical wiring applications makes it our top recommendation as an overall best wire stripping tool for electricians as well as contractors, homeowners and DIYers.
Great for Residential & Commercial Electrical Wiring Projects
Our Rating: 8.9 / 10
The IRWIN VISE-GRIP multitool features wire stripper, wire cutter, crimper, screw cutter and looping holes, all in one compact tool for working on solid as well as stranded wires.
It has sharp wire stripping slots to reduce user effort and increase speed of work in stripping 10-22 AWG wires. The on-tool wire cutter also provides decent cutting ability to save your time from grabbing a separate wire cutter in routine jobs.
Whether you are a homeowner trying to install recessed lights yourself or an automotive technician who repairs and rewires RVs, installs brake controllers and 7-way plugs, this tool is a must for the tool bag. It will work on 110 VAC panels as good as it works on 12 VDC panels. It will also take care of your electronics repairs, prototyping and Arduino projects. Therefore, it is a good recommendation as a gift to your apprentice.
Apart from simply stripping wires, its crimping, screw cutting and looping slots give it an all roundedness that will take care of majority scenarios faced in residential and commercial electrical wiring repair and installation works.
We’ve been using the term AWG wire above. AWG stands for American Wire Gauge. It is a rating of wire thickness commonly used in United States. The smaller the AWG number, the thicker the wire. An AWG 12 wire has diameter of 2.06mm. An AWG 24 wire has diameter of 0.511mm.
Compound Action Stripping | Replaceable Stripping Blades
Our Rating: 8.7 / 10
Klein Tools appear a second time in our list with its Katapult model 11063. It features stripping slots for wire size range of 8-20 solid AWG and 10-22 stranded AWG and a cutting slot for wire size up to 10 AWG.
The specialty of this tools is its compound action stripping i.e. grip and strip through a single squeeze action of its handles providing leverage to the user. They combine the precision of notched/slotted wire strippers with convenience of self-adjustable wire strippers.
Another specialty is that its stripping blades are replaceable. If the stock blades get dull due to heavy usage, just replace the blades instead of buying another tool. Electricians and contractors benefit most from this feature as sharpness of stripping slots always diminishes over the years no matter how good the tool material.
Use it for replacing your old school kitchen fluorescent fixture with an LED fixture or any around the house electrical work in junctions and boxes. Or maybe as a contractor on installation of an LED display screen wall. Or maybe as a technician on installation of solar panels. This tool fits a variety of hands.
Best Wire Stripper for Electronics & Automotive Work
Our Rating: 8.6 / 10
The self-adjusting feature of this IRWIN VISE-GRIP is a game changer. It completely eliminates the need for matching wire gauges to respective AWG slots and makes wire stripping absolutely effortless. However, it takes some getting used to and its self-adjusting performance can vary between different wire sizes and insulation hardness.
It works in the range of 10-24 AWG (Solid) wire sizes. It works both for solid as well as stranded wires.
Working for wires up to 24 AWG with a swivel knob to fine tune stripping adjustment for very thin wires, it is the best wire stripping tool for electronics and automotive electrical wiring applications, and a great tool for electricians for residential and commercial wiring applications.
This is a useful tool from a hands-on electrical engineer to low voltage technicians and IT tech support guys. Whether you are stripping a CAT6 cable or a 14/2 Flat Romex insulation, this tool works great. Helping a DIY guy to install new head unit and speakers in your car will also be simple with this wire stripper.
Good All Rounder
Our Rating: 8.5 / 10
The C. K Tools Automatic Wire Stripper is also a self-adjusting wire stripper that eliminates the need for matching wire gauges to respective AWG slots to save time especially on repetitive wire stripping jobs. However, it takes some getting used to and its self-adjusting performance can vary between different wire sizes and insulation hardness.
It works in the range of 10-24 AWG (Solid) wire sizes. It works both for solid as well as stranded wires.
Like previously stated, once you become used-to to the tool in your hand and adjust it to the wires you strip most frequently, it becomes an indispensable addition to your tool kit.
From electricians to DIYers, this tool will give satisfactory performance in majority home/building wiring applications as well as electronics and automobile electrical works. Whether it is residential electrical paneling work or small electronics repair work, this tool works well.
Our Rating: 8.4 / 10
The WGGE 8-Inch multi-functional wire stripper works for wire sizes 10-22 AWG (Solid) and 12-24 AWG (Stranded). The sharpness and precision of its stripping slots may not be the most accurate of them all, however, it is a great all rounder for everyday wiring applications of homeowners and DIYers.
This tool will help novices to install that new ballast in florescent light fixture at home or replace the end plug on a tower fan instead of getting an electrician to do the job. Or maybe you want to repair lamps, amplifiers and TV speakers or change an electrical outlet yourself, this tool fulfills all needs of DIY and around the house tasks.
It will give satisfactory performance in occasional to non-professional residential, electronics and automotive electrical applications. With a price of less than 10 bucks (at the time of this review), it is the best budget wire stripper for occasional users.
Best Wire Stripper for HVAC Technicians & Mechanics
Our Rating: 8.2 / 10
Klein appears again on our list with its self-adjusting wire stripper and cutter model no. 11061. Its design has been especially optimized for HVAC applications because it allows you to strip the outer jacket of thermostat wire and then all the associated individual wires.
Its working range for wire stripping is 10-20 AWG (Solid) and 12-22 AWG (Stranded). It also includes wire cutter jaws that offer decent cutting ability.
To give a few examples of its utility, it is great at stripping the outer Romex sheathing as well as the insulation of the thinner inner wires. It will strip speaker wires, CAT6 cables and solid wires used in majority of residential and industrial electrical panels. From installing a new head unit on your vehicle to repairing your old radio, this tool will take care of the wire stripping in a variety of applications.
Apart from above, it is the best wire stripper for HVAC technicians and mechanics. It will strip the outer insulation of thermostat wire in first pass and then strip all of the internal individual wires inside one by one with ease. It will strip all of those low voltage wiring inside HVAC equipment and panels. Stripping wires of sensors such as pressure transducers is also accomplished with this wire stripper.
Great Versatility | Outstanding Ease of Use
Our Rating: 8.0 / 10
The Jokari automatic wire stripper is a made-in-Germany tool for 10-24 AWG (Solid) wire stripping. Its specialty is that it can strip wires in hard to reach areas where other tools cannot get into and it is very easy to use even by complete novices.
Its second specialty is that you can replace its blade if it gets worn out over frequent usage so you don’t have to buy a new tool.
It also features a cutter for wire sizes up to 14 AWG. However, its performance for professionals cannot be stated as perfect. Nonetheless, it is a very easy to use tool with decent stripping performance for auto-electricians, homeowners and DIYers.
From rewiring your kitchen on a Sunday to stripping a couple dozen low voltage wires for an upcoming electrical panel installation, this tool will save you a lot of time and effort. For an electrician, it works great for smaller ballast wires, electrical outlet wires or alarm wiring to quote a few examples.
It is also great at stripping TXL wire making it a good choice for automotive wiring work. In electronics repairs, it will help you out in soldering, butt splicing and for making custom ATX cables to quote some examples.
Best Multipurpose Wire Stripping Tool
Our Rating: 8.0 / 10
This Klein Hybrid Multi-Purpose Tool offers wire stripping in the range of 10-14 AWG (Solid) and 12-16 AWG (Stranded). Its range is not as wide as competitor products, however, it performs perfectly well in this range.
With a wide knurled head for grabbing and twisting wires, it carries the simplicity of a lineman plier with wire stripping, cutting and crimping included specifically for residential applications, all without making the tool heavier than an ordinary lineman plier.
Therefore, this tool is a great addition to the back pocket of a lineman as well as a residential electrician. It will reduce the number of tools you need to carry with you on the job because of its flexibility. In fact, for many electricians who have developed a feel for this tool, it becomes the most used tool in their hands.
These qualities make it the best wire stripping and twisting tool for electricians and homeowners working exclusively in residential wiring applications.
Our Rating: 7.9 / 10
The Dowell Multifunction hand tool works in the wire size range of 10-22 AWG (Solid) for wire stripping. It also incorporates cutter jaws and one slot for crimping terminals.
This wire stripper is great for softer wires and lighter handyman jobs like installing appliances or stripping speaker wires. It is a great tool for wiring crafts like wiring a doll house and floral arranging. It also works well on fiberglass insulation. You can use it for replacing 5-way flat trailer connector, to quote a simple example.
With a price of less than 10 bucks (at the time of this review), it holds great value for money and works perfectly well for occasional use in around-the-house jobs. If you are not a professional, this tool will fulfill all your needs at a very reasonable price.
The top ten best wire strippers we have reviewed don’t work on wires thicker than 8-10 AWG. We found the following wire strippers to be the best at stripping wires of thickness greater than 8-10 AWG,
The Klein Kurve wire stripper and cutter works for stranded wires ranging from 6-12 AWG thickness. Its highly precise and sharp stripping slots strip wires effortlessly. Two screw cutter slots for 6-32 & 8-32 size screws and two holes for looping and bending wires makes the tool suitable for multipurpose applications.
The gauge and slot sizes are clearly marked to avoid user confusion in matching the slot to correct wire size. Moreover, these markings are etched on the tool instead of paint so they never fade away.
From being useful in building control panels for industrial equipment to being the tool of choice for RV Service Technician working with RV power cords, this tool is great for professionals. It is also great at solar panel work with lots of PV wire cutting and stripping as well as solar combiner boxes work. It’s a great choice for commercial HVAC work also.
It would’ve completed the tool if Klein had included crimping slots in the tool as well. Nonetheless, it is the best wire stripper for wires thicker than 10 AWG up to 6 AWG.
We used the term PV wire above. PV wire refers to Photo-Voltaic wire. It is a stranded copper conductor wire with relatively thicker insulation and greater flexibility used in wiring of Photo-Voltaic panels (solar panels).
The plier shaped hand tool wire strippers generally don’t go beyond 6 AWG. If your application requires stripping wires and cables thicker than that, we found the Jonard Tools CST-1900 to be the best one out there. It has the ability to strip wires having outer diameter range from 3/16” to 1-1/8”. Another variant can strip up to 1-5/8”.
It is not much difficult to use but you will need some getting used to it before it strips with wires and cables as effortlessly as Jonard Tools portrays in its marketing videos. Its blade is replaceable to make the tool as good as new if blade becomes dull due to heavy usage.
It can strip the wire in different ways such as longitudinal cuts for end stripping, spiral cuts for end and mid span stripping, and circular cuts for jacket removal. Overall, it is a very good tool in the hands of a person who has developed a feel for it.
Klein has designed two tools specifically for stripping thick wires and cables. The model 21051 works for 250 MCM to 2/0 gauge sizes while model 21050 works for 350-750 MCM sizes. The main concept behind the tools is to replace knife stripping that is the commonly used method for stripping insulation off thick wires and cables in the industry.
These large wire stripping tools work with a variety of cable manufacturers including CME Wire and Cable, Encore Wire Corporation and United Copper Industries and Southwire Company but not all of them therefore you must always compare the wire or cables you are trying to strip with the manufacturers mentioned above to get an idea how well these tools will work.
Nonetheless, if the cable’s compatibility with the tool is ensured, they strip the wire very conveniently just like a pencil sharpener does its job.
The very first and the foremost criteria for choosing a wire stripper is to consider your application to find what type of wiring will you be dealing with. Wire thickness is the primary criteria for selection of a wire stripper.
To give an idea:
Therefore, your application will be the deciding factor of the wire thickness you would be dealing with and the wire thickness will be the primary deciding factor for choosing the right wire stripper.
While you may be buying a wire stripper for stripping wires, you’d most likely need some side features. The most common is wire cutting. It is inconvenient to be carrying a wire cutter separately and wire stripper separately. Therefore, your wire stripper will need to have wire cutter option also.
Some other good side features are whether or not crimper slots are included for crimping; whether or not screw cutter is in-built; whether or not looping is possible.
Side features that make you more productive become important factor is choosing the right wire stripper.
Last but not the least, ergonomics of the tool is important. Are the AWG slot ratings printed or etched? because printed can fade but etched will last longer.
There are self-adjusting wire strippers too that remove the need for matching wire size with the slot because there are no slots. Simply put the wire between the jaws of the tool and it will self adjust.
Is the tool spring loaded to relieve you from the inconvenience of opening the jaws yourself after each cut or strip?
How big is the tool. A tool too small may not be convenient for countryside hands. A tool too big may not be convenient for small hands.
These ergonomic features must be given consideration when choosing the right wire stripper.
Buyer’s Guide Questions
The best wire stripping tool is the one that best fits your particular application and for which you have developed a good muscle memory. That being said, we have found Klein Wire Stripper & Cutter (Model 11055) to be the best overall wire stripper for all wiring applications in general.
However, if you are a home owner looking for a cheap wire stripping tool to fit your occasional wiring jobs, we recommend WGGE WG-015 8-Inch Multi-Functional Wire Stripper as the best and Dowell Wire Stripper & Cutter Multifunction Hand Tool as the runner up.
If you an electrician, DIYer, contractor or homeowner looking for the best wire stripper exclusively for residential wiring applications, we recommend Klein Hybrid Multi-Purpose Tool (Model J215-8CR).
If you are an HVAC technician, we have found one exclusively for you as well. The Klein Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper & Cutter (Model 11061) is best suited for HVAC wiring jobs because it allows you to strip the outer jacket of thermostat wire and then all the associated individual wires as well.
The numbers on a wire stripper slots express the wire thickness in AWG (American Wire Gauge) or millimeters (mm) intended to be fit inside the slot for wire stripping. If you fit a thinner wire in a thicker slot, it won’t strip right. If you fit a thicker wire in a narrower slot, it will nick the conductor.
Therefore, manufacturers print or etch the wire thickness on the slots of wire strippers so the user is able to fit the right wire inside the right slot for stripping its insulation without damaging the conductor inside.
Wire strippers that have slots made for crimping can be used for that purpose. However, some wire strippers don’t have crimper slots so they cannot be used for crimping.
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