Successfully locating and tracing the path and position of electrical cables is of utmost importance to avoid any potential damage to underground cables, and more importantly, eliminate the risk of serious employee injuries, especially at construction sites. This process is performed before doing any excavation activities on the site and it is a vital part of the procedure of cable jointing as well. The best way to determine the location and depth of electrical cable systems is by using underground cable locators which are special tools that provide accurate and efficient results. These are essential instruments for technicians who work on the installation and repairing of underground communication cables. When used in the right way these special locators can successfully identify the exact location of cables, even in case when they are installed inside an electrical conduit. To choose the right cable locator you should first understand its basic principles of operation and uses.

The first locators that appeared on the market about fifty years ago had a basic design and worked on simple principles – by adding an electrical signal to the located cables. Today the process of locating includes more complex methods considering the fact that cables used for telecommunication are connected with utility lines. Although modern underground cable locators incorporate the same basic principle of operation as the earlier models, there are nevertheless changes in design and performance. Advancements in technology brought a lot of improvements and today’s locators incorporate advanced features and are much more efficient and simple to use than the early models. All cable locators consist of two basic components: a transmitter and a receiver and each component has its own specific function in the operation of the locator. To put it simply, the transmitter is the one that brings the electrical signal to the cable. The receiver on the other hand, identifies the signal and allows you to find the signals route and locate the cable.

To provide an electrical signal the transmitter creates an electromagnetic field which can be adjusted to a particular frequency. What kind of conductor is used in the cable determines the range of frequency. It is best to begin the process of locating cables with the lowest level of frequency since it remains longer on the conductor that your locator is attached to. The receiver and the transmitter are installed inside durable waterproof cases. They are powered with batteries and all the information about the location and depth of the cables is shown on a display that is positioned at the top of the locator unit. In some cases only one component is required for locating specific types of cables. For instance, for detecting live electrical cables you only need the receiver unit. Cables that have passive signals can also be located by using the receiver only. However, when a stronger signal is required for locating, in that case the operation of the transmitter is required.