Many utility infrastructures are buried deep underground. They include telephone lines, electrical, fiber optic, and data cables. These are usually challenging to engineers and maintenance technicians since locating faults is not straightforward. You cannot dig the entire cable length to identify the fault position. That is where the underground cable fault locators come in.
Unlike underground wire and cable locators that trace the cable line only, underground cable fault locators are devices designed to pinpoint the fault location on an underground utility line. They can detect shorts, opens, insulation breakdown, and other parameters. In some cases, a device can do both of two these things.
The underground locator set usually consists of a transmitter for sending electrical signals and a receiver to listen to that signal to detect a fault.
Underground cable fault finders are essential to the telecommunication and electrical engineers and technicians charged with maintaining underground lines.
Do you have an underground cable fault locator in your arsenal? It is time to buy one if you don’t or upgrade the existing one. However, you may find it challenging to buy the right product. This article gives you detailed reviews of some of the best devices on the market. Read on to find out!
Top 8 Best Underground Cable Fault Locators in 2023
Underground cable fault locators make locating a fault in underground lines a breeze. We present the best products in this section you can choose from. Our extensive market research covered the most reliable and across all price ranges. Check them out!
1. Tempo Communications PE2003-G Pulser Ground Fault Locator [Best Overall]
PE2003-G Pulser Ground Fault Locator is the best product in its category. We recommend it if you are working on high voltage electrical lines and worry about insulation breakdown.
This product injects a high-voltage signal into an underground cable that radiates into the ground at the point of insulation breakdown or an open circuit. Using an A-frame mount receiver, you can detect the direction of the signal and pinpoint its sources.
The Tempo Communications PE2003-G Pulser Ground Fault Locator set consists of the following main components:
- PE2003 2000R receiver
- PE2003 2000H transmitter
- A-shaped frame
As the name suggests, the transmitter is the signal producer. It has long test leads with heavy-duty alligator clips at the end to hook on cables of different sizes and types. The receiver sits on the A-Frame and detects any leaking signal from the cable under test. It can help you identify multiple faults within a single wire or cable line.
- Accurate and precise
- Can detect multiple faults
- Reliable and durable
- Safe and easy to use
- Relatively expensive
- Cannot find a short in a line
2. Amprobe AF-600 A-Frame Ground Fault Locator
Amprobe AF-600 underground cable fault locator is another reliable kit for professionals. Locating ground faults, sheath faults, or pipeline insulation breakdown is not challenging with this unit.
Amprobe UAT-600 Underground Utilities Locator Series has a transmitter and a receiver and works the same way as the PE2003-G Pulser Ground Fault Locator.
Underground utility infrastructures are commonly used but are prone to problems such as insulation breakdown. When that occurs on a utility line, there will be power leakage to the ground, which creates noise in the system.
Amprobe AF-600 A-Frame Ground Fault Locator uses advanced technology and digital signal processing to pinpoint the fault position. Its main features include compass guidance, automatic gain control, and compass guidance. These work harmoniously to help you locate where the problem is on the line.
This frame is not working alone. It requires a transmitter and receiver; both these instruments are needed when locating underground utilities. For the best practice from the company, you could use the UAT 610 or UAT 620.
- Fast and accurate
- Simple and easy to use
- Rugged and reliable
- Locates cable and wire faults quite easily
- Relatively expensive
3. Armada GFL3000 Ground Fault Locator
Armada GFL3000 is a specialized tool for contractors and maintenance technicians working with underground cables. It is designed to pinpoint the position of faults such as gopher chews, nicks, or anywhere voltage leaks to the ground.
The Armada GFL3000 Ground Fault Locator transmits a high-energy pulse through a conductor. This pulse is detected by the receiver from the leakage point. The receiver is mounted on an A-frame and features an analog meter to point the direction of the fault. By following the pointer, you can identify the exact point where electrical voltage leaks to the ground.
The GFL3000™ is an excellent choice and offers the best value for money. It has some unique features, such as dual power capability, which makes it possible to choose the resistance level of the fault to be identified. Additionally, the transmitter can work for hours on the field on a rechargeable 12-Volt battery.
- Long runtime on a single charge
- Pinpoints the underground faults on cables
- Fast and reliable
- Has dual power capability for detecting faults of different resistance
- Relatively expensive
4. HV HIPOT GD-4136H Cable Fault Locating System
HV Hipot GD-4136H is a complete system for locating underground cable faults on various lines. You can use it to maintain all cable types. With this unit, you get different ways of testing underground cable faults. The transmitter can generate a signal of various voltages, making it the most versatile underground fault locator on this list. It is ideal for use on electrical power cables and communication cables.
The GD-4136H system consists of the following main components:
- GD-2131H Impulse Generator
- GD-4132 Cable Fault Locator
- GD-4133 Multi-pulse Cable Fault Detector
- GD-4133S Multi-pulse Coupler
The GD-4136H system can help you locate open circuits and high impedance grounding faults of cables buried under the ground. The wave speed through the underground wires can be measured to determine the length or distance to the fault point. Additionally, the GD-4136H system helps you to identify the cable’s route, flash-over faults, and high impedance.
- Versatile – can detect faults in all cable types
- Fast, accurate, and reliable
- String burning ability
- Can safely perform DC HV withstand the test
- Can measure the length of the cable and detect route
- Strong anti-interference ability
- Relatively expensive
5. RD8200 Underground Cable Fault Locator
RD8200 precision underground cable fault locator is all you need if working with underground infrastructure. It is designed to make the work of maintenance engineers and technicians easier. When you buy the set, you find the following components:
- Transmitter and receiver
- Soft Carry Bag or Hard Case
- 20ft Cables and an extra 20ft extension cable
- Ground rod
This fault locator has many features that aid correct usage, reduce utility damage, and improve safety when working in the field. The transmitter and receiver pair make the task easy. You only need them to trace and identify utility infrastructures in a congested environment, such as substations and high voltage lines.
You can accurately track the current direction in a line by injecting a CD signal generated by the transmitter. This signal will make the receiver display CD arrows that confirm you are tracing the most appropriate cable. RD8200 is highly adaptable to different environments and immune to noise and interference from other signals.
- Ergonomic design and weatherproof
- Fast and accurate
- Dual Bluetooth connectivity
- Safe and easy to use and manage
- Immune to interferences
- Optimized for telecoms and street lighting
- Pinpoints cable sheath damage
6. Intendvision MY6818 Cable Fault Locator
MY6818 Cable Fault Locator is a multifunctional tester for detecting faults in cables buried in walls and ground. You can use it to find shorts, opens, and accidentally covered power distribution outlets. It is the affordable underground cable fault locator option for electrical technicians and DIYers.
The MY6818 unit comes with a transmitter, a receiver, and clips. You can adjust the sensitivity of the receiver to match the intended use. That is possible either automatically or manually.
The MY6818’s transmitter and receiver work in conjunction to display power levels, codes, batteries, and detected voltage levels. The transmitter injects an encoded signal into the conductor. This ensures immunity against interference for clear reception. Hence, MY6818 is accurate in detecting shorts and opens in underground wires.
This MY6818 Cable Fault Locator is also versatile. It can be used in communication cable construction, pipeline construction, electrical circuits and power line maintenance.
- Relatively affordable
- Versatile – used in many applications
- Compact, lightweight, and portable
- Reliable and durable
- Has built-in Ac/DC voltmeter
- No clear instructions on how to use
- Not for use on energized high voltage lines
7. VFLTOOL Visual Fault Locator
VFLTOOL Visual Fault Locator is designed for communication technicians and engineers installing and maintaining optical cables. It can pinpoint fiber breaks, poor connections, bends, or cracks.
The unit consists of a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter injects 650 nm light into the optical fiber cable being tested, which can travel to a distance of 20-30 km. It gets refracted when it reaches the fault point to aid detection.
VFLTOOL Visual Fault Locator is designed for use in the field. It is portable, has many functions, long battery life, and long-distance detection.
- Lightweight and portable
- Long battery life – ideal for field use
- Has a powerful transmitter that generates a light signal for fault detection
- Immune to electrostatic discharge damage
- Only for detecting fault on underground fiber optic cables
- Its sleeve loosens over time
8. Fluke Networks TS90 Cable Fault Finder
TS90 Cable Fault Finder is an all-in-one fault locator, cable and wire manager, and tone generator. It comes last on our list of the best underground cable fault locators, but that doesn’t mean it is inferior. It is a highly versatile tool despite its small size and affordability.
TS90 Cable Fault Finder can work on more than one conductor cable of length up to 2,500 feet. You can use it to detect faults on AC electrical lines, CAT-5 twisted pairs, and coaxial cables. The unit generates a 1 kHz signal of amplitude 80% of the battery voltage. You can adjust the tone characteristics to match the cable condition for more accurate fault detection.
This ground fault locator displays the cable distance rather than a waveform like most tools do.
- High voltage detection
- Easy to use – one-button operation
- Detects faults on different cable types
- Displays actual cable length
- Long battery life
- Compact and portable
- Not reliable for testing high impedance cables
How to Use Underground Cable Fault Locator
Choosing the right underground cable fault-finder will make your work easy. The best product can precisely locate the fault and save you time. So, which one should you choose among the tools reviewed?
PE2003-G Pulser Ground Fault Locator remains the ultimate choice for testing insulation breakdown. It is very accurate and can detect multiple faults within a single cable. You can also choose it for its reliability and durability.
The second option is Amprobe AF-600 underground cable fault locator. This is recommended for locating ground faults, sheath faults, and pipeline insulation breakdown. However, you have to pay more for this versatility. The tool is fast, accurate, and easy to use.
Armada GFL3000 is the third tool we recommend for contractors and maintenance technicians. It is an excellent choice because it has high-end features, but you don’t need to spend a fortune on it. This tool can pinpoint underground cable faults and last longer on a single charge.
You can consider other options on this list if you work with different cable types, such as fiber optics or telephone lines. This list has the best product for every application that you can buy.