For those field engineers and technicians who may be starting out and building a bag of tools, you may be surprised to find that The Home Depot has a great selection and decent prices when it comes to various network-related tools and products.
I’ve shopped at The Home Depot for quite some time, and although I hate their business practice of using self-checkouts, I was amazed to find that the prices of much of the IT tools and products they carry, from ordinary patch cables to a tone generator, are reasonably priced. In addition, convenience and availability makes The Home Depot a competitive choice. I cannot tell you how many times I have relied on them when I have needed to pick up last minute hardware for a job.
In this article I will go over some network-related tools that The Home Depot carries and some reviews on each of them.
I’ve always been a big fan of Fluke products, so one of the first tools I purchased was a digital multimeter. I have used the same Fluke 110 for almost 5 years now and I have never had a problem with it. In addition to being reliable, the digital measurements will give you better results than needle-based multimeters. It is also very rugged. I have dropped it several times and it has never failed me.
I did not purrchase my Fluke multimeter from The Home Depot, but at this writing they carry similar models. One multimeter feature you may want to consider with an upgraded model is a thermometer.
When it came time to getting my feet wet doing cabling, the next set of tools I purchased were a crimper, stripper, and punch down tool. The Home Depot carries a Data Shark brand network toolkit that comes with all three (stripper, crimper, punch down), and even some CAT5 ends to get you started.
Usually, I am a little leery when buying a kit with multiple tools, because I have had bad luck in the past with the quality of the items. Not the Data Shark kit. The quality of the pieces are impressive for the price. My only negative is the cable stripper. It could be a little better quality, but for the price, this kit is a winner in my books.
The next two tools to be reviewed are both Flukes. Again, I am a big fan of Fluke products, so that was the direction I took when it came to purchasing a tone and probe kit, and a buttset (test set).
These tools are not for the faint of heart when it comes to price, and I actually purchased these online from a different company to save some money, but The Home Depot carries both models, and they are reasonably priced.
Both the Fluke Pro3000 (Tone and Probe Kit) and TS19 (Test Set) are average products and on the econo end as to quality, which I only say because you can easily find tone/probe kits and test sets with much more features costing hundreds of dollars. For the types of network engineering calls I do, both of these work just fine. But if you are needing to use one or both of these tools on a daily basis, you may want to find something a little more durable.
And finally, I purchased a nice pair of Greenlee gopher poles (for wiring) from The Home Depot, but I am not sure if they still carry them or not. These poles are green colored and made of fiberglass, and come in three sections which can be screwed together. Each pole is about five feet, so you can run a good 15 feet with no problem. I have never owned another set so I cannot compare, but they seem pretty durable, bend nicely, and so far have worked well.
These are just some of the network-related tools you can find at The Home Depot. And as I mentioned in the beginning, no doubt you can find all of the tools mentioned in this article for cheaper, especially online. However, if you are working a tight timeline and need something quick, you cannot beat the convenience factor.