The cookie settings on this website are set to 'allow all cookies' to give you the very best experience. Please click Accept Cookies to continue to use the site.

Cable avoidance tools - how to pick the right one for you

Cable avoidance tools - how to pick the right one for you

Posted by Hitechniques Team on 8th Feb 2021

If you are working within or with the underground utilities sector or are, at any point, breaking ground, you must ensure that adequate precautions are taken to avoid risk to persons at work arising from possible underground dangers such as underground cables. Using the right cable avoidance tools (CATs) will ensure the safety of your team and help you avoid costly damage and delays.

So how do you pick the right cable avoidance tools?

With so many different brands offering range of products, it’s hard to decide which is the best for you and your budget. Before you make a purchase there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. 

1. What kind of accuracy do you need?

You need to consider your application and think of distances over which you would ideally like to trace. Wat about the depth of the services? Do you need to be able to measure that as well?

Average cable locator will provide you with the lateral position of any services detected and used with a signal generator can operate using the two industry-standard detection frequencies of 8khz and 33khz.

But if you need something more advanced, there are models that can emit two additional frequencies and detect signals over longer distances. They are also able to provide a depth reading.

2. Will you be using the CAT in isolation or with a signal generator?

Best practice requires you to always use a cable avoidance tool in contact with a signal generator. It doesn’t mean you have to but using a Genny will help you find about 50% buried services, since CAT can only detect a cable if it has current flowing through it.

Note: It is very important that you always use the correct signal generator and cable avoidance tool combination.

3. Are you just marking-up services on the ground or do you need to store that data for later analysis?

Any basic tool will do if you’re just marking the ground for a surveyor who will do the mapping or to avoid cutting a wire. But if you need to be able to record data yourself, you may want to look at more advance models, like the ones with the GNSS technology and software included.

4. How experienced are you/your employees in using these tools?

You don’t need to be an expert to use cable detection tools, however having a basic understanding of how they work is necessary for you to use a utility locator correctly. If you don’t have much experience, it’s often best to start with a simple tool and get familiar with it, before upgrading to more advanced one. No point spending money on something you won’t be able to use.

Conclusions and recomendations

As industry standards get more and more regulated, it makes sense to buy the best and most recent cable and pipe location technology. Still, it’s important to take under consideration all the above factors. You need to make sure to pick the tool that ensures safety but also fits your needs and budget.


At Hitechniques we offer a range of detection tools for every job and budget. If you need help picking the right ones for you, get in touch with us at 01 257 2323 or