The Difference Between Insulated Tools and Regular Hand Tools
We review a lot of hand tools, so when insulated hand tools come up, often people don’t understand the significance. Many have asked the question: What is the difference between insulated tools and regular hand tools?
Well, a similar question is do I need to use insulated hand tools? If you deal with high voltage live wires, these tools can save your life. They also may be required for most professional electricians.
True Insulation Covers Tip to Handle in Drivers
When you deal with high voltages, insulated tools provide real electrical insulation up to 1000V AC or 1500V DC. Regular screwdrivers and pliers have plastic or nylon handles. These don’t protect you against contact with a high voltage electrical line. The difference between these and regular hand tools is that insulated tools provide true electrical isolation on the handle.
High voltage can and will travel along the steel post located at the center of the tool. When you only have a plastic handle separating you from all that electricity, it can make the jump to your hand. From there, everything just gets worse—so let’s avoid that entirely!
For tools like screwdrivers, insulation starts right at the tip of the tool.
That insulation goes all the way to the back end of the handle and protects you from accidental contact with high voltage.
Notice we said “accidental”.
You should almost never be working on a live wire. Just because you have an insulated tool doesn’t mean you can use it to pry up on a high voltage bus bar. If you nick the insulation on the tool, it’s no longer protecting you as it should.
Insulated tools are simply another level of safety and protection—much like seatbelts, the airbag, and the ABS system in your car. Hopefully, you never needs them, but all three work together to keep you safe.
Difference Between Insulated Tools: Pliers and Cutters Use Thicker Handles
For tools like pliers and cutters, the insulation necessarily starts at the handle. These tools feature thick insulation that protects the hand against high voltage in the event you accidentally cut a live wire.
Stay safe. If you aren’t certain what your tools are rated for—check the labels. Electrical pliers, screwdrivers, and crimpers all come clearly labeled.
Insulated hand tools also typically use two layers of insulation and meet the ASTM F1505 standard.
Why You Should Use Insulated Hand Tools
While these products typically cost more, they provide much-needed protection. You can’t undo a high-voltage incident. Stay safe and use the protection that gloves, insulated hand tools, and other safety practices provide. Before starting any electrical work, always check for current and verify that circuits are off before you access any potentially live wires.