Best Inspection Mirrors

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
105 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Updated December 2020
Written by Rich Gray Authors 's image

Buying guide for Best inspection mirrors

Whether you’re a professional inspector or just enjoy tinkering around your house or car, at some point you’re going to find yourself peering into a tight space that is impossible to clearly see. Inspection mirrors are designed for those areas that are too high, too low, too narrow, or just too out of the way to clearly inspect with the naked eye.

These tools typically telescope out to extend the view, and some even feature LED lights or other features to improve your ability to inspect a wide range of problem areas. When shopping for inspection mirrors, you’ll also need to consider factors like lens size and handle reach, insulated grips, flexible handles, and stainless-steel mirrors.

Our buying guide runs through all the features and other considerations for inspection mirrors, including how much you should pay. For our picks for the best inspection mirrors currently on the market, see the matrix above.

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With a larger inspection mirror, you can inspect a larger area more quickly than with a mirror that shows less of what you are trying to inspect.

Key considerations

Handle reach

One big plus of an inspection mirror is its ability to reach into tight spaces – such as the distant corners of a car engine compartment – that can be difficult to inspect with the naked eye. The majority of inspection mirrors have a retractable handle, allowing them to telescope out for use and then fold up for easy storage and transport.

Inspection mirrors vary considerably in how far they can telescope, with some reaching almost three feet in length. The average handle reach for inspection mirrors is generally around 30 to 35 inches when fully deployed and seven to eight inches when folded up.

Lens size

The larger the lens on an inspection mirror, the more surface area you will be able to inspect at a time. On the flip side, the larger the lens, the more difficult it will be to use the mirror in tight spaces. As such, you should consider where you will primarily be using the inspection mirror and shop accordingly. Lenses range from under one inch in diameter to 2.5 inches or more.

Number of lenses

While rare, some inspection mirrors do ship with more than one lens. Often these will be duplicates, providing you with a spare mirror in case you break one. Other inspection mirrors ship with an additional lens that is either a different size or magnified, both of which can help extend your inspection mirror’s usefulness.

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Did You Know?
Some inspection mirrors offer a flexible neck, allowing you even more versatility in inspecting hard-to-reach spaces.
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Features

Handle and neck

The handle and neck of an inspection mirror should offer a heavy-duty design that is both sturdy and durable. The majority are constructed from aluminum or stainless steel, which are both long-lasting and resistant to rust and corrosion.

The majority of necks telescope out so you can easily inspect items at a distance, although some of them also flex, which can be a real plus in some particularly twisted or tight spots. If the inspection mirror’s neck telescopes, it should smoothly glide out and maintain the length you set (this is known as an obedient neck).

The handle of an inspection mirror should be non-slip and ergonomic. Some offer a soft, comfortable cushioning to grip, while others are made from metal. Some handles and necks feature insulation to protect you if you use the inspection mirror around live electricity.

Lens

The key element of an inspection mirror is the mirror itself, known as a lens. As mentioned above, lenses are found in a variety of sizes. They also ship in a variety of shapes, with round lenses and rectangular lenses being the most common. Some lenses are also magnified, which can be helpful in instances when you really need to have a close view of the item under inspection. Most inspection mirrors use glass lenses, although some use stainless steel, which is more rugged and will hold up better in some industries.

Neck joint

The lens is attached to the neck of the inspection mirror by a ball joint or a hinge joint. Both joints allow you to position the mirror in a variety of ways so that you can more effectively use it in tight spaces. Whichever type of joint you go with, it should hold the angle that you set and not move on its own when you’re using the inspection mirror.

LED light

Available on some inspection mirrors, built-in LED lights help illuminate dimly lit areas you are trying to inspect. While some inspection mirrors use one LED light, others utilize more than one for increased light. These usually run on compact lithium batteries, which may or may not ship with the mirror.

These inspection mirrors are generally not for dental work. If you need a dental inspection mirror, aim for one with a more compact lens that is specifically made for oral use.

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Inspection mirror prices

Inspection mirrors start at around $4 and go up to around $15. The majority of inspection mirrors sell for $7 to $8.

At the lower price point, you will typically find shorter telescoping necks or even necks that don’t telescope at all. You’ll also find more compact mirrors and a generally cheaper build. Inspection mirrors in this range lack advanced features such as LED lighting.

As you go up in price, you can expect to find inspection mirrors with a better build and more comfortable grip. Lenses are larger, and special features like LED lighting, flexible necks, and spare mirrors are more common.

At the highest price point, you will largely find inspection sets that include telescoping mirrors, pick-up tools, flashlights, and other tools that are handy to have during an inspection.

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Did You Know?
While rare, some inspection mirrors include a clip on the handle, so you can easily attach the mirror to a belt or other surface when not in use.
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Tips

  • Inspection mirrors with insulated handles offer you more protection from short circuits and electrical shocks. Consider going with an insulated inspection mirror if your work often takes you near live wires.
  • Magnified inspection mirrors can be helpful if you are working with more compact components, such as those found in automobile electronics or computers.
  • If your inspection mirror includes an LED lighting element, you will also need batteries. Be sure to check if batteries are included with the mirror or if you need to purchase them separately.
  • For the best results, search for an inspection mirror that features an obedient neck. These necks will hold whatever position you place the mirror in. That way you can do your work without worrying about the mirror constantly slipping out of position.
  • Stainless steel inspection mirrors are a better option than glass if you are using the mirror for purposes such as welding or around oils or solvents.
  • A built-in LED light removes the need for a flashlight when inspecting dark areas, thus freeing up one of your hands for other tasks or tools.
  • One perk of an inspection mirror that is round, as opposed to rectangular, is that round mirrors can be easier to use in tight spaces where corners could catch on wires and other components.
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Inspection mirrors are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, often from the same brand. Check the listings carefully to find options that closely fit your needs.

FAQ

Q. How do I know which inspection mirror is right for me?

A. Your choice of an inspection mirror should largely be based on how you plan to use it. As such, your best bet before purchasing one is to put some time into considering your plans. How tight are the spaces you will be inspecting? For cramped spaces, you should avoid larger mirror sizes or go with a flexible neck. How much light is available within these spaces? A built-in LED light can be helpful in dimly lit spaces. Issues like the type of inspection you are doing and the presence of live wires or oils and solvents can also affect your choice of an inspection mirror.

Q. Is a ball joint or a hinge joint a better choice for an inspection mirror?

A. Ball joints and hinge joints are the two basic ways that you can position an inspection mirror to see a wide range of angles. Of the two, a ball joint will usually give you finer control over the mirror, often providing a full 360-degree view.

Q. Is an LED light on an inspection mirror worth the extra money?

A. Again, this largely depends on how you plan to use the mirror and the spaces you will use it in. Tight spaces also tend to be dimly lit, which is where an LED light can really help. It can take a bit of practice to master, however. Some users find it tricky to set the angle at just the right tilt to illuminate what you want to inspect without also blinding yourself. While it may be initially frustrating trying to shine the LED just where you need it, the majority of users find that after a little practice this feature is indispensable.

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