Think Safety: Proximity Voltage Detection

Safe work practices and standards are top of mind for all who work in and around the electrical power industry. From the linemen and utility operators to the lawyers and union representatives, safety matters as much as keeping the lights on.

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By Rich Bevins

Safe work practices and standards are top of mind for all who work in and around the electrical power industry. From the linemen and utility operators to the lawyers and union representatives, safety matters as much as keeping the lights on.

A Legacy of Protecting Linemen

Linemen safety is why the Bevins family continues to develop new products. The 1930s were the beginning of our modern use of electric power, and the shocking truth is that, at that time, one in every two linemen died on the job. Many electricians still didn’t fully understand the risks of working with electric power and would use “fuzz tubes” with a light bulb to test the line or “fuzz the line” with a monkey wrench on a wood stick tube — a highly dangerous prospect.

In 1943, after a death involving a member of his crew, Marvin Bevins worked day and night for three weeks to invent the Analog Phasing Tester. From that moment on, the Bevins family made lineman safety its mission and has continued to produce the standard in tools that keep linemen protected and efficient in the field.

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The CHANCE Proximity Voltage Indicator is designed to offer a proximity electric field intensity meter for voltages above 480 volts, and a near-field sensing device for voltages below 480 volts.

New Product Development Continues

From the Original Phasing Set to the Multi-Range Voltage Indicator — the first voltage indicator to use Bluetooth® technology to allow linemen to have a backup to their analysis of the situation from their own smart device — the daily focus of the Bevins team revolves around producing tools that raise the safety standard in electric linework.

The grid continues to grow, and technology advances and is applied to the power industry and the equipment used to maintain it. But lineman safety remains a top priority. The question becomes: How do we maintain the grid in all conditions and under all circumstances with reduced risk of electrocution?

Proximity Voltage Detection

The non-contact method of voltage detection developed in recent years as utility operators continued to look for ways to lessen the risk associated with electric linework. The safest method is always the correct use of the proper equipment in the hands of experienced linemen, but safety gets compromised when conditions and training are not ideal.

Many utilities have integrated work practices and procedures that require non-contact methodology and equipment when encountering certain circumstances or limited crew experience or certification. In many cases, linemen are not allowed to make any contact with a suspect conductor — even with appropriate Hot Sticks.

The Bevins Solution

To meet this need for non-contact procedures, Bevins® developed a safe and consistent Proximity Voltage Indicator that uses nanotechnology to allow linemen to make diagnostic measurements of the electromagnetic fields (EMF) developed around alternating current, energized conductors. The CHANCE® Proximity Voltage Indicator (PVI) is engineered to give linemen the smartest tool to work with under conditions requiring non-contact testing methods.

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The PVI allows linemen to know if a single conductor is energized or not at nominal system voltage, and to determine if power lines are at rated voltage, have induced voltage or are de-energized.

The PVI is designed to offer a proximity electric field intensity meter for voltages above 480 volts, and a near-field sensing device for voltages below 480 volts. It allows linemen to know if a single conductor is energized or not at nominal system voltage, and to determine if power lines are at rated voltage, have induced voltage or are de-energized.

The PVI gives linemen a smarter non-contact testing tool, with features like user-defined minimum detection range and a lightweight, 17.6 oz frame. Other features include:

• Portable and easy to use

• New lightweight (19 oz.) design using nanotechnology

• Confirms AC quickly and remotely

• User-defined minimum detection range

• Auto-ranging capacitive test point 480 V-500 kV

• Easy-access battery replacement

• Measure phase-to-phase voltage classes up to 500 kVAC

• Audible and visible indicators

• Complies with OSHA 1910.269 to test for absence of nominal voltage

• Sleep mode after 15 minutes to extend battery life

• Can be used with lithium batteries to increase longevity

• Use Field Tester (PSC4033582) to determine functionality

The PVI responds to a sensed field in three ways. First, a sensing LED changes from blinking to constant when it detects an electric field. Second, illuminated LEDs represent the class of voltage present. Third, an audible alarm indicates dangerous levels of voltage.

The device is designed to be held 6 to 18 inches away from the conductor being tested for the presence of voltage. As the voltage field intensity increases, the Proximity Sense LED and Range LED will flash, and the audible alarm will beep faster.

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Features like user-defined minimum detection range and a lightweight, 17.6 ounce frame make the device a smarter non-contact testing tool.

Cutting-Edge Feature: User-Defined Option

In cases where an audible alert to the presence of known voltage is a nuisance (or even increases risk in known voltage situations — in substations, for instance) the PVI has a built-in User-Defined Option that temporarily disables indications and alarm for voltages below the user’s selected range. This limits dangerous variants in known voltage situations, and also makes non-contact testing safer for linemen trying to test a specific line or level of current.

But still, Bevins always insists on Think Safety as the number one rule. So, the sensing LEDs will continue to function normally in both normal and advanced modes — flashing to alert the user of the presence of voltage.

New to the Industry: QR Code

To give full access to operators, Bevins has broken ground in the industry by labeling all CHANCE PVI units with a QR code that provides access through any smart phone or device to the owner registration, online manual, video manual, repair form, and customer service line.

Find the code on the included storage bag along with a Quick Reference Guide for operating in the field.

Although the PVI is a non-contact voltage indicator, Bevins always recommends using a proper length (cleaned and tested) Hot Stick with all of our HLT Testers. Some utilities allow rubber glove techniques, and even in these instances the PVI must still be used with an appropriate length and tested Hot Stick. OSHA specified and required minimum approach distance (MAD) should always be followed. This device is an AC-only detector. Do not attempt to use for DC current detection. UP

the Author: Rich Bevins is the third-generation president and CEO of Bevins Co. Since 1957, Bevins has pioneered the invention and manufacture of superior electric utility products. Learn more at www.bevinsco.com.

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