Jonard Tools Glow Rod Kit Review
These glow rods have a few strengths but unfortunately, fail in build quality and are short on luminescence. With a little quality control and material changes, they could compete at the highest level.
The other day I heard someone say, tongue-in-cheek, that business would be easy if it wasn’t for the people! I think we’ve all have had that thought at one time or another. When I sat down to write this review, a similar analogy came to mind: installation would be easy if it wasn’t for the walls and ceilings. Just as the humorous phrase reveals that people are both an asset and liability of business, so too are finished surfaces with regard to running wire and cable. Fortunately, we have tools that help us accomplish our work. Along with electrical measurement and cutting tools, I use installation tools every day. You’ve seen me review fish tapes and magnetic pullers so now it’s time to check out the Jonard Tools Glow Rod Kit. Glow rods (or fish rods or fish sticks as slang) help electricians pull (not push, by the way) wire behind walls and above ceilings.
Although Jonard has been around for 60 years, it’s likely an unfamiliar name to many electricians. The company spent many decades manufacturing telecom industry tools and has only recently expanded into tools for other Pros. I reviewed the company’s linesman’s pliers while Kenny checked out some of its screwdrivers. Should these glow rods make their way into your truck?
That’s what I intend to find out!
Luminescent Fiberglass Rods
The Jonard Tools Glow Rod Kit includes six 5-foot long, 3/16-inch diameter luminescent fiberglass rods. Glued and crimped on each rod is a standard 8-32 threaded male and counterpart female end on opposite ends. In this way, the glow rods screw together for a total of 30-feet if needed and can even be used with other manufacturers’ rods.
A luminescent, or glow-in-the-dark, feature of the rods is particularly important for dark areas. I’ll measure the length of luminescence after I expose the rods to light. Some manufacturers – such as Klein Tools – have a light accessory for the lead rod’s end, but Jonard doesn’t offer this – at least not yet. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself!
I suppose it’s possible to pull wire and cable without the accessories that screw on the lead glow rod, but it wouldn’t be easy. You could always just tape the wire to the rod (and sometimes you’ll opt to) but the accessories often provide a better way. Some manufacturers might get a little fancy by offering things like a light (as I mentioned above). But a standard accessory offering usually includes an eyelet, a ball chain, a whisk or eggbeater, and a hook. That’s just what the Jonard Tools Glow Rod Kit includes.
These accessories are probably self-explanatory, but that’s never stopped me from explaining something! You can wind wire around the eyelet and pull it. The hook can grab a bundle of wire or perhaps a tool that you dropped. A whisk is most often used to fish the rod to the place where you’ll attach the wire and pull it. The rounded design of the whisk allows the end of the rod to travel easily to its destination without getting snagged. The ball chain is versatile: tape the wire to it and allow it more leeway as it’s being pulled. But there’s a more clever way to use it I’ll discuss later.
Other Glowing Thoughts
Fiberglass glow rods have traditionally had a painful side effect: fiberglass splinters – yeeouch! The rod’s flexing can eventually break the fibers, which stick out and snag fingers and hands. Electricians and installers can use gloves, but gloves also impede working with smaller diameter wire and cable. The splintered areas can be taped, but the tape covers up the rod’s luminescence. You get the idea – it’s better to have glow rods that don’t splinter. I’ll certainly find out if Jonard’s do.
I’ll also be assessing the rods’ flexibility. Some manufacturers offer rods in several flexibilities for different jobs: very flexible for running through a finished wall’s outlet hole and up a wall, more rigid for pushing the rod over long distances (above a ceiling, for instance). Since the Jonard Tools Glow Rod Set has just one flexibility, I hope to find they have a satisfactory, all-around flexibility.
Glowing Like the Metal on the Edge of A Knife
I put the Jonard Tools Glow Rod Set right to work on a job where I installed several can lights in a home. They also went to work with me on a job running wire from one side of a mobile home to the other without having to go underneath it. Trust me, any day you don’t have to venture into a dark, spidery, and possibly snake-y mobile home crawl space is a good day!
In any event, I’ve used both the high-end Klein rods as well as the cheaper Harbor Freight option, so I have a good idea of the choices. These 3/16-inch diameter (that’s standard) rods screw together easily and have a medium amount of flexibility good for most jobs.
Pro Tip: Never bend glow rods too much – sheer force has been known to break the threads off the metal end (especially they aren’t tightly screwed together.)
Unfortunately, the Jonard rods’ luminescence is short-lived. Even when I applied a lot of light to the rods, they were dark in 60 seconds. No, I didn’t try to boost any cars during this review. By comparison, Klein Tools’ glow for around four minutes and Harbor Freight’s aren’t luminescent. One minute is just too short a time for the glowing to be useful.
This Is The End
Ok, it’s not the end of the review. I’m referring to the metal ends. Jonard glued and crimped the metals ends to the fiberglass but two of them came loose and fell off during this review. I glued them back on the rods so I continue working but, of course, this is a problem when it happens on the jobsite. It just shouldn’t happen, especially after being glued and crimped. Hopefully, Jonard can improve its QA and come back with an improvement here.
The Ol’ Ball Chain and Other Attachments
The accessories screw on to the metal ends just as each rod screws on to another. I ended up minus one hook thanks to a less-experienced colleague who inspired the Pro Tip below, but not before I used it and found it to work just fine.
Pro Tip: Don’t twist/turn the rods while they’re in the wall! That’s a good way to unscrew and accessory and lose it forever in the wall.
I used the ball chain to pull cat5 down a wall without making a hole any bigger than necessary. It’s no big surprise that the smaller traces you make, the less you have to patch or clean up. I mentioned a clever way to use the ball chain earlier. In a tight, awkward space, attach the ball chain to one set of rods and then approach it from the opposite side with the whisk and twist it. The ball chain will temporarily attach to the whisk and you’ll be able to pull it through in a pinch.
Novices might wonder if glow rods can completely substitute for magnetic pulls – and the answer is no. There’s certainly some overlap, but you’ll want to have both in your truck.
The Bottom Line
On the upside, the rods of Jonard Tools Glow Rod Set has a good bit of flexibility without being sloppy. I didn’t see or feel any fiberglass splinters. There are several accessories that are crucial to the job, and Jonard includes them. As an upgrade, I’d like to see Jonard add a magnet (like Super Rod) or a light (like Klein).
But this set has a couple of issues. First, the luminescence is too short. It lasted about one minute while the premium competition reaches four or more. Second, and more concerning, are the crimped and glued metal ends still popped off a couple of rods. If they come off in the wall, you might be stuck on the job or at least delayed.
You can pick up this set on Amazon for about $60 with the comparable Klein Tools set going for about $88 with an illuminated tip and Splinter Guard coating. While Jonard is definitely on the right track, there’s still some room for improvement.
Jonard Tools Glow Rod Kit Features
- Six 5 foot long Rods, 3/16-inch diameter, for greater flexibility
- Ball Chain attachment
- Kit packaged in clear reusable plastic tube
Jonard Tools Glow Rod Kit Specifications
- Item Number: RDG-30
- Fiberglass rods
- 8-32 Metal threaded ends
- Price: $57 (Lowest price found online)