Electrical Installation Tools – Pro Tool Reviews
Streamlining the electrical installation is essential on today’s construction site where there is more work than workers. By making your teams more productive, your business is more profitable. As a bonus, using today’s more efficient tools makes the job of your individual electricians easier and can help you attract more quality electricians as your business grows.
We’ve partnered with Milwaukee Tool to look at some of the common issues electricians see during the electrical installation phase. Their extensive field research drives their tool designs to solve problems like these.
There are 3 main areas that electricians commonly cite as areas for improvement with knockouts. First, the removal tools are bulky and difficult to use, which slows them down. Second, the dies are difficult to align, again, which costs time to get it right. Third, the whole setup process is made worse because you have to support the weight of the tool during the process.
Here are some ways you can use new technologies to make your job easier:
- Meet the Milwaukee Cordless Eject Tool that offers simple, one-handed operation with a smaller footprint and lower weight.
- Milwaukee punches and dies on the market include markings that give you a visual guide to speed up setup.
- There are extraction systems available that allow you to set up your punch and die without having to connect it to the tool first.
Ask volunteers to pull cables during your next electrical installation and you may find that the room empties quickly. Wire feeding is a slow, time-consuming manual process. Traditionally you have to use steel or fiberglass tape if you are in a non-conductive application.
But fiberglass is prone to cracking and lacks the high tensile strength of steel tapes. Anytime you have to stop for a cracked or broken strip, or really need to work the strip in the last two corners, it slows you down.
It is also a work of 2 and these two electricians are not always as conscientious as one would like. It’s not uncommon to find a pile of fish tape waiting to be rolled up instead of being pulled, leaving the tape at risk of someone stepping on it and twisting, breaking, or worse, tripping over it.
Make your life easier with some new ideas:
- There are alternative designs, like the Milwaukee Polyester Fishing Tape, that give you low friction and the flexibility of fiberglass without the kinking. They are faster and easier to use than others.
- Now there is a battery powered fish tape puller that powers and retracts for strokes of up to 240′ and 360º of turns. It has the potential to turn that 2 man job into a one man job and much easier for the electrician in charge.
Cutting cable is all about speed and cutting quality. Cordless cable cutters are more common today than ever, but there are still plenty of manual and hydraulic cable cutters still around.
A newer concept is a Milwaukee Cordless Wire Cutter that is able to do the hard work of crimping and cutting with just a change of jaws. Since you’re going to have to crimp that connection anyway, swap jaw beats back and forth to the truck or buy two dedicated tools for each crew.
A utility knife is still one of the most popular ways to strip cables. It’s a process that comes with some inherent risk thanks to an exposed blade – around 50% of all jobsite injuries involve a knife. It’s also a more time-consuming task than it should be, especially when you have multiple cables to strip.
Wireless cable strippers significantly reduce risk and speed up the process. While the original cordless strippers are fine, the newer models are less bulky to use and allow you to get into tighter access areas with more consistent results.
Manual hydraulics or hydraulic heads are so the last decade. But hey, they still do the job. Manual crimpers don’t work well with larger gauge cables, and hydraulic models are often heavy and make it difficult to get inside tight panels. Also, there’s all that pumping and crimps can exhibit significant lack of uniformity, especially when working with a range as wide as #6–750 MCM.
Cordless crimpers are definitely the way to go and now there are dieless cable crimpers that make electrical installation even easier. You get all the benefits of a cordless crimper and you don’t have to change dies along the way.
Treatment of torque-sensitive terminals
Depending on your personal lug tightening philosophy, there are a few common methods to get the job done. One way is to use a torque wrench – just keep rattling until you reach your target torque. We will wait for you to get there…
Seriously, though, it’s a controlled way to get the torque right the first time, but it’s a slow process.
The second method was to use two tools. You start by driving the bolt in with a power tool and then move on to a manual torque wrench. It’s definitely faster but risks over-tightening the bolt and requiring you to carry an extra tool.
One of the newer methods is to use a battery-powered digital ratchet torque wrench. It uses its motor to fasten the bolt below target torque, allowing you to finish with controlled turning and without the need for a second tool. We had a little trigger moment with this tool and it impressed us.
Invest in wireless solutions
We have talked a lot about using cordless tools for electrical installation and there is no doubt that it is an investment. Cost is (or should be) a consideration whenever you’re considering making drastic changes to the way you do work.
As you consider tools to cover these and other areas, ask yourself a few questions:
- Does the tool really make you and your team more productive?
- Are you going to use the tool day after day or just once in a while?
- Does the wireless platform you’re considering cover all the tools you need?
These are a few tools that can make your next electrical installation more productive and with more efficient use of the human resources you have. We would like to know what tools, tips or tricks you use to optimize your working hours. Feel free to comment below!
Many thanks to Milwaukee Tool for giving us access to their knowledge base and field research to write this article. If you want more information on any of the products we’ve talked about, click on the links in each section, go to Milwaukee’s websiteor Acme Tools if you want to shop.