High-voltage cable detectors could save lives

Deaths from high voltage wires could be prevented by using cheap and simple cable detectors.

A farmer in Cornwall is the latest in a series of deaths over the years as the result of accidentally touching overhead power cables. The farmer, 24, was harvesting when he hit a power line.

He is among 30 people in agriculture who have died from coming into contact with high-voltage lines in the past 20 years.

The power lines that are commonly found on farmland are generally 5.2m from the ground, are not insulated, and have 11,000v running through them – a lethal dosage.

Therein lies the problem, as much farm machinery can reach that height, putting operators at serious risk. Combines with their grain tank lids open can comfortably reach 5.2m, as can telehandlers, rain guns, irrigation pipes and tipping trailers.

There are, however, detectors which can help prevent this from happening.

In the past these detectors have sometimes proved ineffective when driving near or parallel to a power line as they tend to be constantly triggered. But the technology has now developed to overcome this.

Now, when you are in potential risk area, you simply press a button which, instead of the alarm constantly going off, sounds a reminder every 30secs.

There are several types of unit on the market which can be fitted to combines, telehandlers and other machinery that might come into contact with wires.


The HDVS, sold by Transport Support, costs £315. It comes in both portable and mounted versions and takes an hour and a half to fit. The detector comes with a 30cm long aerial and the company says that the range of the product is roughly 100m.

If you are in a noisy machine like a combine, fear not, for not only does the HDVS sound an alert, but it also has a flashing LED to make sure that you are absolutely aware of the danger you face.

Wire Watcher

The unit costs £580 and, like the HDVS, can be self-installed. It can also be professionally installed for an extra £200.

The aerial is 40cm long. The unit has a detection range of about 10m for 11,000v cables, and a longer range for higher-voltage wires. It also has both visual and audible warning systems.

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