CableSniffer - The Proven Technique for Locating LV Cable Faults

By Chris Dodds on 27th November, 2014

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CableSniffer - The Proven Technique for Locating LV Cable Faults

T&D are proud to present a Guest Article from EA Technology's Colin Vickers, originator of the revolutionary CableSniffer™ which is designed to quickly and accurately detect the location of underground cable faults on low voltage networks.

EA Technology are leading power engineering consultants committed to providing safer, stronger and smarter electricity networks.

The CableSniffer™ was originally introduced at the 18th International Conference on Electricity Distribution in 2005 hosted by CIRED. CIRED are the leading forum where the Electricity Distribution Community meets. CIREDVisit CIRED at the 2015 international conference to be held in Lyon, France 15-18 June. 

More recently, the CableSniffer™ was awarded an 2014 IET Innovation Award held in London on Wednesday 19th November.

Pictured : EA Technology: WINNERS Power / Energy Innovation Award for the CableSniffer™


Back in 2004, Colin said "it typically costs £600 to £1000 ($1088-$1813) to dig each hole, so a CableSniffer™ unit can easily pay for itself in a single day. Operators who currently have to dig many holes each year to locate underground faults can make significant cost savings. CableSniffer™ has proved so sensitive that we can virtually guarantee 'no reading, no fault' on fresh faults, with a very good chance of locating older faults." Read the complete press release at PEI Power Engineering International. 

Below Colin shares his story ahead of his retirement in December. I am sure you will join us in wishing Colin a long and happy retirement. 


"I started life at EA Technology in 1991 and quickly found that by asking my customers what their main issues were with locating cable faults, a common theme immerged:

  • Service Disruption
  • Costs
  • Regulatory Penalties

EA Technology So I set to work and with the help of our talented scientists and power engineers, we came up with the simple idea of an instrument that could literally sniff out cable faults. We eventually called this the CableSniffer™, an instrument which, as they say, “does what it says on the tin”!

Pictured: The CableSniffer™ is designed to quickly and accurately detect cable faults. The CableSniffer™ pinpoints low voltage (LV) cable faults by "sniffing" the gases given off by faulting LV cables as the cable insulation burns. Widely used across UK DNO and global power utilities the EA Technology CableSniffer™ significantly reduces the impact of LV cable faults on customer minutes lost and restoration costs. 


For the uninitiated, the CableSniffer™ is now considered to be a revolutionary instrument in locating faults in underground cables… and fast. Instead of having to rely on excavations with “cut and test”, it samples and analyses the gases emitted when cable insulation starts to break down via a series of very small holes. The highest concentration of gases are found directly above the cable fault.

What makes this exciting is that cable faults can usually be located in under an hour and to an accuracy of a few centimetres!

This diagram easily explains the concept:

CableSniffer™ Diagram - Locating LV Cable Faults

On average it’s possible to save 50% on the costs of fault location and re-instatement and of course, an even bigger saving where there are regulatory penalties for disruption.

Video : EA Technology's Dawn Miller presents the features & benefits of the CableSniffer™

CableSniffer - EA Technology Winners IET Award 2014Fast forward to the present day and I’m due to retire at the end of December and so I was especially proud when we recently won the Award for Power/Energy at the IET Innovation Awards in London. I’m prouder still because to date, all six of the UK’s electricity distribution companies have equipped their engineers with the CableSniffer™.  If that were not enough, over 2500 are currently in service throughout the world.

John Morea, Director of Engineering, Scottish and Southern Energy recently said, “The CableSniffer™ means quicker restoration of service for our customers and far fewer holes in the road, with the added bonus of major cost savings. It’s a classic win-win solution for everyone concerned.”

Not only is all of the above a huge compliment to EA Technology and our talented staff but I’ve also taken the achievements of the CableSniffer™ as a personal compliment. For me, it means that I have made my mark in a company that I have very much enjoyed working for.

Next time you use a CableSniffer™, think of me!"

EA Technology would like to wish Colin all the best for the future:

"We’re extremely sad to see Colin go after his sterling contributions to our company and we wish him the very best of luck in his retirement and for his future. We’re certain that we will always remain in contact with Colin."

EA Technology Group works around the world with the power industry to improve the reliability and reduce the costs of running power distribution networks. See also : Video Tutorial Masterclass - PD Partial Discharge & Electrical Cable Breakdown

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Cable Sniffer LV Cable Fault Locator - Operating Manual

Category:  LV Cable Jointing & Terminating

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