Most tradespeople love gadgets. This is a report about interesting tools and devices not necessarily categorized for electrical work, but which electricians may find useful.
Dictionaries define a gadget as a small electronic or mechanical device for specific tasks, but some items included in this article clearly go beyond the gadget definition and can be classified as tools or accessories. Some are new. Others are not; however, they represent a wide array of interesting and sometimes unusual devices.
Magnetic wrist band: These handy wristbands secure screws, nuts, fasteners and other small metal items. One example is the MagnoGrip, which is made of durable ballistic polyester and embedded with strategically placed magnets. The wristband is a practical solution to prevent losing screws, bolts and other loose parts. It also can be attached to metal shelves and other surfaces for storage.
Ear-protective headset with Bluetooth: The Honeywell Howard Leight Sync wireless earmuffs protect hearing while providing Bluetooth connectivity to 4G wireless devices. If desired, the user can rotate the boom microphone out of the way. Calls can be answered using the headset. The steel headband keeps the headset securely in place, and the padded ear cups provide a comfortable fit and barrier to outside sound.
Voltclaw-12: The Nonconductive Tool Co.’s Voltclaw-12 multiuse tool enables an electrician to grip, push, pull and move 12-gauge electrical wires in outlets, switches, junction boxes and breaker panels. Its smooth edges safely bend and move wires without damaging insulation, unlike with standard metal tools that can nick and break insulation. VoltClaw-12 has no metal parts and is nonconductive to 1,000 volts.
Drill hole exit point finder: Zircon ExitPoint XL300 detects drill hole exit points before drilling and coring. The XL300 does not require measuring, and it scans through most types of nonmagnetic building materials, such as wood, drywall, gypsum panels, bricks, and poured concrete to thicknesses of 11.81 inches. The user positions the transmitter magnet on the spot to be drilled, then scans the other side of the wall with the receiver to locate the exit point.
Asset ID tag: For assets that don’t have integrated Bluetooth capability, DeWalt Tool Connect Tags can be attached to any item on a job site to help locate the tagged asset. Tags are dustproof, water-resistant and resistant to tough conditions. Users can find tagged assets with DeWalt’s Tool Connect app.
Personal headlamps: Inexpensive LED headset lamps are widely available, but many people in the trades prefer more rugged models. The new Coast rechargeable FL75R headlamp produces up to 530 lumens. The light features white or red beams and weighs just over 3 ounces. The dual-power feature allows it to run on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack or standard alkaline batteries. The first button on the headlamp shines an ultrawide flood beam. Twisting the bezel changes light to a far-reaching spot beam.
Hard hat headlamp: Milwaukee Tool offers a rechargeable hard hat lamp with slip-resistant strap and clips for easy attachment and a secure hold. It provides 475 lumens and up to 31 hours of run-time. There are five light output modes for optimal brightness and run-time. The light can be maneuvered into different positions and features 216-degree tilting motion to help users direct light where it’s needed most. Built to be impact- and chemical-resistant, the headlamp also is IP54 rated for weather and dust protection. Milwaukee Tool also offers several LED headset models.
Folding tweezers: Splinters are painful and can be hard to remove. PockeTweez tweezers fold up like a pocket knife and snap open and closed. They are easy to grip and have sharp points that can grab the tiniest sliver. Made in the United States and of durable stainless steel, they can be carried in a pocket or on a key chain.
Magnetic pickup tool set: This kit, available on Amazon, retrieves metal items from small, hard-to-reach spaces using the telescoping tool with a bright LED light. The telescoping rod extends from 8 to 30 inches. The flexible neck and 2-inch-diameter mirror provide 360-degree visibility. The 6-inch magnetic bowl securely holds nuts, bolts and other metal items. The tool has a weight pickup capacity of 8 pounds.
LED work gloves: Work gloves with LED lights can illuminate dark spaces without the need for a flashlight. Numerous versions are available, but many novelty items are not suitable for the work place. One that is suitable for job sites is Tactical Lites LED Work Gloves, equipped with three sets of removable LED lights providing different brightness levels. In addition to delivering light, these true work gloves are touchscreen compatible, have a sure grip without bunching and are breathable. A Velcro pocket on the back holds lights.
Knee pads: Working on your knees is hard, and knee pads make the job easier and more comfortable. Klein Tradesman Pro Knee Pads are tough and durable with five layers of protection; a stabilizing, nonslip, flat outer surface; and a single strap that won’t bunch behind the knees.
Cooling cap: Ergodyne offers a one-size-fits-all dry evaporative cooling cap. Cooling properties are activated by adding 3 ounces of water, which saturates the cap’s cooling membrane. The company claims wearers get up to three days of dry cooling relief that is as much as 15 degrees below ambient air temperature, with a maximum cooling capacity of 59°F. The user can replenish water as necessary. The cap is machine-washable and has an antimicrobial treatment to prohibit mold growth.
All-purpose multitool: Pocket-size folding multitools are appealing and handy to have even though the individual tools they contain usually aren’t expected to match the capabilities of professional tools. One that stands out is the Leatherman SuperTool 300 EOD with 10 military-performance-specification tools, including standard wire cutters, wire strippers, fuse wire cutters, electrical crimper, fuse wire cutters, combo knife and needle-nose pliers. Comfort-grip handles have cutouts to simplify tool access while wearing gloves.
Pocket-size thermal camera: Flir offers a full-featured, pocket-sized thermal camera that weighs less than 6 ounces. The FLIR C2 radiometric images permit measuring any point on the image in post analysis on scenes between –10°C and 150°C. The C2’s high-sensitivity detector captures the subtle temperature differences and thermal patterns. It has a brilliant 3-inch touch screen with automatic orientation, streaming video through Flir Tools, and built-in LED spotlight to use for photo illumination and as a flashlight.
Video inspection camera: A small camera at the end of a flexible tube enables a worker to “see” in dark, hard-to-access spaces, viewing what the camera sees on a small but sharp screen. A valuable feature is the ability to store images that can be transferred to a mobile device or computer. DeWalt, Extech, Klein Tools, Milwaukee Tool, Ridgid, Ryobi and Southwire Tools also offer video inspection cameras.
Lithium-ion battery charging docks: With the number of lithium-ion powered tools on job sites increasing every day, there is a growing need for freshly charged batteries. Multi-battery charging docks make it possible to always have fresh batteries on hand. Tool manufacturers that offer one or several charging docks for their brands of batteries include Bosch, DeWalt, Hilti, Hitachi, Makita, Milwaukee Tool, Ridgid and Ryobi.
Job-site coffee makers: The electrician who has everything probably has an on-the-job coffee maker. Portable coffee pots powered by lithium-ion batteries or with a power cord are being offered by many tool companies. When comparing models, be aware whether the battery and charger comes with the tool or is purchased separately. Also, consider the number of cups it makes and brewing times when using battery power and AC. In addition, check the accessories that come with it. Tool manufacturers offering coffee pots include DeWalt, Makita and Milwaukee Tool. A new entry to the market is the Oxx Coffeeboxx.
Vehicle work station: With vehicles serving as mobile offices, a work area that is easily accessible to the driver’s seat is a handy accessory that many consider to be essential. The Jotto Desk transforms a truck cab into an office with an easy-to-install desktop that provides a stable work surface for a laptop computer and other devices using available accessories that include wireless phone holders and compact printer stands. The desktop can be moved to different positions and can be quickly removed if the passenger seat is needed for a passenger. Jotto Desk is available for most makes and models of vans, pickup trucks and other vehicles.