How to Choose a Tens Unit

You must consider numerous factors to choose a proper TENS unit for personal or professional use.

It includes the power output, features, design, battery life, portability, ease of use, and price.

This article will help you determine the most suitable tens unit for your daily needs.

Factors to consider when choosing a tens unit include:

  • Power output / Intensity
  • Features
  • Design Interface / Display
  • Battery life
  • Portability
  • Ease of use
  • Price
  • Warranty

Power Output/Intensity

One of the first things you’ll want to consider when buying a TENS unit is the device’s power output/intensity.

The amplitude of a TENS unit output results from its battery’s performance, technology, and components.

Most TENS units offer sufficient output for everyday use.

Suppose you require more intensity from your device, or you’re an athlete who needs more amplitude for sore muscles.

You’ll want to research advanced or premium TENS units to get one with sufficient power.

While not always the case, higher-end (premium) devices usually offer more amplitude/output compared to lower-cost solutions.

Units with built-in rechargeable batteries (depending on the model and technology) may utilize more of the rechargeable batteries amplitude than devices that use standard replaceable batteries.

In addition to the device’s power output, potential users should consider the unit’s adjustable interval levels.

Depending on your device, the amount of control available for fine-tuning interval levels/output can vary greatly.

Units may be able to provide anywhere from 10 – 25 levels of control or more.

As a result, you’ll want to find a TENS unit that provides the right amount of customization for you, as it will allow you to dial in on the specific range that works best for you.


Depending on your TENS unit, a particular device’s features and functionality may vary significantly.

While most TENS units are more than sufficient for the average individual, those who want a more significant amount of performance and usability may opt for devices with additional features that go beyond the standard functions of some baseline models.

For those looking to get the most out of their TENS units, some of the features you may find important include the ones mentioned below.

It includes the display size, backlight, extended battery life, and portability.

It also includes features that go above and beyond, such as EMS functionality, auto shut-off timers, wireless capabilities, recorded history saves, additional output channel levels, and more.

As mentioned previously, most people will be happy with the functionality of a reasonable consumer-based TENS unit.

However, those willing to spend a bit more can enjoy additional functionality if it is essential.

Design Interface/Display

The design interface/display encompasses factors such as the screen size, the information displayed on the screen, backlight capabilities, ease of reading, and controller simplicity.

If you enjoy large screens, plan on using your TENS unit in the dark, or have difficulty reading smaller text, a larger screen may be an essential factor.

Alternatively, a smaller display may suffice if you’re looking for the smallest, most portable unit.

Ultimately you’ll want a device with an easy-to-read interface and physical controls that are simple to use and not overly complicated or confusing.

A TENS unit with a lock function can be handy for those who use their device while moving around as you can lock it to prevent false button touches from occurring if you decide to put the device in your pocket or put it down while it’s active.

Battery Life

Battery life is a fairly straightforward topic. First, however, you will want to consider the power output a device can generate with its batteries.

You’ll also want to consider whether you prefer a device with replaceable or rechargeable batteries, as both devices have their advantages.

TENS units with replaceable batteries allow you to swap out your batteries when they run low quickly, and some devices may be less expensive due to requiring fewer components.

If you purchase a device with a replaceable battery, be sure to see what battery it uses (battery cost varies depending on battery type).

The efficiency of battery usage (i.e., how many hours you can get out of the device before battery replacement) will help you gauge your cost better throughout the life of the device.

On the other hand, rechargeable batteries require time to recharge.

However, these units can become cheaper over time as you don’t have to worry about constantly switching batteries out or running to the store when you are out of batteries.

While not always the case, TENS units with rechargeable batteries may provide higher output levels if the device’s batteries and technology take advantage of a larger, more powerful battery.

One downside to rechargeable batteries for any piece of technology is that over time, rechargeable batteries slowly lose their ability to hold a charge.

Go with a well-respected and trusted brand (especially one that offers a solid warranty).

You shouldn’t have too many issues using a device with a replaceable battery.

As said previously, it may be cheaper over time if you use the device frequently.


Portability/mobility means ease of carrying and travel.

The more portable the unit is, the easier it will be to move from one location to another.

Choosing a small, handheld TENS unit that is pocket-able will allow you to easily carry the device almost anywhere you go, whether in a car, on a train, on the plane, at work, performing errands, or in a variety of other settings.

If you do a lot of commuting or traveling and always want to have your TENS unit within arm’s length, then a portable unit may be the right choice.

Another great thing about these portable units is that you can leave them on and stick them in your pocket.

At the same time, you can watch a movie or perform light tasks allowing you the freedom to move around a bit and enjoy yourself or get things done instead of having to be completely idle.

Portable TENS units are not the most effective devices for advanced stimulation.

However, they provide a mobility advantage over heavier, bulkier devices.

Suppose you plan on doing a lot of traveling or commuting where you’ll be away from home for an extended period.

In that case, you may want to choose a device with a carrying case with storage for batteries, wires, pads, and any other essentials you may need to bring with you while on your travels.

Ease of use

Ease of use is about quickly turning the device on, attaching wires, activating essential functions, and turning it off after use.

Being able to easily read any display information necessary for the device’s functionality and receive helpful feedback is extremely important for proper operation and fair usage.

Ensuring you can replace the electrode pads, manipulate power levels and carry the device is vital to control it easily.

It also enables you to increase or decrease output if it doesn’t provide the necessary amplitude.

Some TENS units offer many additional features (not all are helpful) that can complicate a device.

It includes offering too many buttons, screens, knobs, and wires.

As a result, if you feel that ease of use is essential to you or if you will have others use the device.

On the other hand, if they aren’t as familiar with using a TENS unit as you are, then it may make sense to choose a device with an easier learning curve, especially if the additional features aren’t that important to you or necessary.


The cost of a TENS unit can vary greatly depending on all the factors mentioned above.

These devices can range from $25 to several hundred dollars due to having more or fewer features, technology, and power output.

Aside from the cost of the unit, most additional costs will depend on the cost of replacement electrode pads, wires, and batteries.

Once you’ve purchased the TENS unit, you’ve probably taken care of the most expensive upfront cost, and these devices are usually good to go out of the box. However, you will want to keep the cost of replacement parts (mainly batteries and pads) in mind.

Suppose you want to avoid paying for throw-away batteries.

In that case, you can spend a bit more money upfront and purchase a unit with a rechargeable battery, as it may be more cost-efficient over time if you plan on using the device frequently and over an extensive period.


The last thing we’ll talk about is the device warranty.

Depending on the brand/company you buy from, warranties can vary from 14 days to a lifetime.

If you plan on using your TENS unit for an extended period and are concerned about the quality or longevity of the device, then getting one that offers a great warranty can help reduce some of the stress.

It’s beneficial for models with rechargeable batteries or expensive components that wear down and require replacement.

Before purchasing your unit, check the reputability of the company you are buying from and learn about the ins and outs of their warranty/replacement program to ensure a great buying experience if you are concerned about the device’s longevity.