How To Find Buried Electrical Wires | Engineer Supply - EngineerSupply

800.591.8907 M-F 8-5PM EST

21 Years Serving Customers Like You. Buy With Confidence.

Will a magnetic locator find buried electrical wire?

Blog will a magnetic locator find a buried electrical wire

Looking for buried wires? Whether you’re digging on your property or working on a project with your company, find out how a magnetic locator works and how it can assist you with safe, accurate excavation projects. Learn the differences between magnetic and utility location devices for safe and accurate location of electrical wires.

Blog will a magnetic locator find a buried electrical wire

Select a Locator

First, you need to find the right type of locator. Magnetic locators allow you to find the approximate depth and location of buried ferrous metal objects. This includes septic tanks, corner pins and other objects. Unfortunately, it does not include electrical wires. Most buried wires are made of copper. Other elements may include aluminum or gold, but none of these are ferrous. For buried electrical cables, it’s best to use a pipe and cable locator.

Advantages of Using Pipe and Cable Locators

Pipe and cable locators offer an effective way to locate buried electrical lines and conduit. They operate slightly differently than magnetic location devices, allowing them to find a signal from a non-ferrous metal. Some utilities have a signal running through them. Power lines give off a 60Hz frequency, which your pipe and cable locator can detect. For other pipes and cables, a transmitter is needed. Connect the transmitter to an exposed piece of pipe or cable to safely transmit a signal through. Your location device will receive the signal, allowing you to find a buried section of the same cable or pipe. There are many different types of transmitters. Compare alligator clamps, signal clamps and inductive antennas to find the best option for your specific cable location project.

Great Selection of Magnetic Locators

Shop top brand names today! Whether you're looking for Schonstedt Magnetic Locators, CST/Berger Magnetic Locators, PipeHorn Magnetic Locators or other Magnetic Locator Accessories & Parts we have you covered.


Frequently Asked Questions

Will a Locator Find a Buried Electrical Wire?

Blog will a magnetic locator find a buried electrical wire

No, a Schonstedt magnetic locator isn’t capable of locating buried non-ferrous items. A pipe and cable locator is required to find any materials that aren’t magnetic. It may be possible to locate a cable if it’s buried in steel conduit, but typically you must use a transmitter and cable locator.

Can a Magnetic Location Device Find Buried Water Lines?

Water lines can be copper, PVC or other plastic, but they aren’t usually ferrous metals. For this reason, your magnetic location device isn’t suited for finding water lines. You may need to use a pipe and cable locator or other utility locator tool to find these buried lines.

How Can You Locate Underground Fiber Optic Cables?

Fiber optics aren’t ferrous, so you won’t be able to use a magnetic location device to find them. A utility location device that uses a transmitter can send a signal down the line and trace it with a handheld receiver. For this to work, you’ll need to find an exposed section of the fiber optic cable to connect a transmitter to.

How Do You Use a Locator?

A magnetic location device can detect ferrous materials by slowly moving the handheld locator back and forth over the area. Pipe and cable locators operate in a similar way, but typically need a transmitter to send a signal through the cable you’re locating. Follow the specific instructions for your location device for accurate use.

What Types of Utility Locators Are Available?

Visit Engineer Supply to find a utility or magnetic locator device for your next project. Shop for locators designed to search for buried electrical lines to prevent accidental damage and risk of electrical shock as you safely dig new trenches or a foundation.

Best Magnetic Locators

1) Schonstedt Magnetic Locator with Hard Case GA-52Cx

Blog top 10 magnetic locators schonstedt GA-52Cx The GA-52Cx from Schonstedt is one of the most rugged and dependable locators you can buy. It provides five levels of sensitivity to ensure that you find what you are looking for without passing over it. There are only two controls on the body, making it easy to use with one hand. It also makes it more dependable. If you will be doing a lot of surveying, this should be a serious contender on your list.

2) Schonstedt Maggie Magnetic Locator With Soft Case

Blog top 10 magnetic locators schonstedt maggie The Maggie is an opportunity to get the best of two worlds. It features the sensitivity of the GA-52Cx and the one-handed design of the GA-92XT, Schonstedt’s two flagship models. It has an LCD screen with a bar graph showing polarity. It is rated IP54 for dust and water resistance. The modular construction and durable design help make this another top choice from Schonstedt.

3) Pipehorn 800HL Dual-Frequency Pipe & Cable Locator Model MD840

Blog top 10 magnetic locators Pipehorn 800HL The 800HL from Pipehorn is a capable pipe locator. It has two frequencies: 480 kHz and 9kHz. This makes it easier to locate utilities in both congested areas and at a distance. Users can change between frequencies with a single switch flick. It has a handle for easy one-handed use. This can be used for coated pipes, un-energized power lines, fiber, concentric neutral and many other utilities.

4) Schonstedt Magnetic Locator With Hard Case GA-72Cd

Blog top 10 magnetic locators Schonstedt GA-72Cd The GA-72Cd is the most popular choice for UXO and demining applications. It is the brand’s most versatile locator for magnetic fields. Like many other Schonstedt products, it has a very simple set of controls to make it as easy to use as possible. It features a screen showing a polarity graph, gain level and battery status.

5) Schonstedt Magnetic Locator With Holster and Hard Case GA-92XTd

Blog top 10 magnetic locators Schonstedt GA-92XTd This ultra-compact locator is Schonstedt’s most portable product. It telescopes so that it can be easily transported in a small package. Additionally, it features a special handle that makes it easy to operate with one hand, pressing the buttons with your thumb. This is an especially good choice for anyone who has to travel a lot for work.

6) Schonstedt REX - Multi-Frequency Pipe & Cable Locator

Blog top 10 magnetic locators Schonstedt rex This pipe locator from Schonstedt is a top-of-the-line tool. It has three frequencies (512 Hz, 33 Hz and 82 kHz) as well as 50/60 Hz passive and 512 Hz sonde detection. Plus, the transmitter is only four pounds, and the receiver is only three. This is a very compact and lightweight tool. Like many other Schonstedt models, the REX is IP54 rated for dust and water resistance.

7) Pipehorn 800H Single-Frequency Pipe & Cable Locator Model MD820

Blog top 10 magnetic locators Pipehorn 800H The Pipehorn 800H is a lot like the 800HL described above. However, it uses a single frequency of 480 kHz. It can work down to a depth of 18 feet. The strong ABS housing and watertight construction help make this a very durable tool for use in the field.

8) CST/Berger Magna-Trak MT202 Series Magnetic Locator With Soft Case 19-202SC

Blog top 10 magnetic locators cstberger 19-202SC The MT202 series locator is a high-quality device with strong construction and a large LCD screen for easy operation. The digital bar graph readout makes it easier than ever to locate items. Plus, the MT202 has the ability to block out a source of magnetic interference (for example, a nearby fence). It can locate larger objects at a depth of up to 15 feet.

9) Schonstedt MPC-REX - Combination Kit - REX System With GA-92XTd Magnetic Locator

Blog top 10 magnetic locators schonstedt mpc rex If you need to locate both utilities and magnetic fields, this combination set is a great choice. It features the compact but powerful REX and the highly-effective and portable GA-92XTd. The entire package can fit into a custom shoulder bag. Both locators are described above.

10) CST/Berger Magna-Trak 101 Magnetic Locator With Soft Case 19-555

Blog top 10 magnetic locators cstberger 19-555

This no-nonsense locator is an effective and reliable tool for finding ferrous objects underground. The Magna-Trak 101 has easy-to-use control knobs for adjusting sensitivity and volume. With a strong but lightweight aluminum tube and strong sensors, this is a magnetic locator you can always rely on when you need it.
Please Wait... processing