Article Courtesy of Brad Schafer, Director of Sales, Technical Solutions

It’s impressive to see a skilled professional make difficult work look effortless.

If you are not familiar with hotsticks, they are essential tools for handling high-voltage work on energized equipment. Distribution equipment is often mounted 20 to 40 feet above the ground, about as high as the roof on a two-story house. Hotsticks must be both strong and rigid to reach these heights, but also lightweight since it’s all about your own strength and skill in guiding these poles with your hands.

The target, when you are operating utility equipment with a hotstick, is typically an operating ring that is roughly the size of a half dollar. Could you even see a half dollar on top of a two-story house? And if that wasn’t challenging enough, imagine trying to do that at night in a rainstorm with the wind gusting.

If you work at a utility and you’ve never tried using a hotstick, I’d highly recommend giving it a shot. A little humility is good for a person. Of course, you probably don’t have a hotstick lying around, but if you head over to where the line crews hang out during lunch, they would likely be willing to lend you a hand. Show them this article and tell them you want to give it a try. Sure, they might make a few jokes at your expense, but that’s part of the fun. Everyone likes a little competition so challenge one of your co-workers to see who can open and close a switch quicker in the training yard.

Utilities aim to simplify hotstick tasks by ensuring those operating rings are as accessible as possible. On poles holding lots of equipment, you don’t want the lower equipment to block access to the higher equipment. Also, poles are often located next to busy roads, and you want to be able to access equipment without standing near traffic.

Here is an example of a recloser mounted on a wooden pole. This is a very common cluster-mount of bypass switches located above a three-phase recloser. You might use a hotstick to open the recloser manually using the yellow operating rings (yellow arrows). Or you might use a hotstick to open/close bypass switches above the recloser (red arrows).

Compare that accessibility to this installation:

The second application has open access to the bypass switches. You don’t have to reach over the recloser of the center phase to reach the bypass switch.

These bypass switches come pre-assembled on the fiberglass crossarms. So, when it is time to install, you simply lift the entire crossarm/switch assembly and attach it to the pole. Then you are ready to land your jumpers. Both assembly and operation are simplified.

The utility industry continues to grow and change with new technologies, but when I retire in 20 years, line crews will still be using hotsticks to manage outages and restore power to customers.

If you would like to know more about this equipment, contact your Gresco sales representative today.