Understanding RIDGID Locators: Plumbing vs. Utility

Features, Benefits, and Applications

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June 26, 2023 at 8:56:15 AM PDT June 26, 2023 at 8:56:15 AM PDTth, June 26, 2023 at 8:56:15 AM PDT

Understanding RIDGID Locators: Plumbing vs. Utility - Features, Benefits, and Applications

In the plumbing or electrical industry, there will come a time when you require a RIDGID plumbing or utility locator.

No matter the job you’re on, it's crucial to have the ability to visualize and map out underground utilities and wiring systems.

This knowledge is essential to prevent unintended damages or complications. Without accurate information about what lies beneath the surface, any excavation or installation work can pose serious risks for plumbing and utility lines and potentially compromise the integrity of the underground infrastructure.

RIDGID, a renowned manufacturer of professional tools and equipment, has a long history of providing high-quality locating tools for various trade industries. Their expertise in this field dates back to 1923.

Over the years, RIDGID has refined and expanded its locating tools, incorporating advanced technologies and features such as GPS, SeeSnake Cameras, and omnidirectional antenna systems to offer reliable performance, durability, and ease of use.

They have developed specialized equipment to detect and trace buried utilities with precision, making them standard for professionals in construction, plumbing, utility maintenance, telecommunications, and other industries that deal with underground infrastructure.

Through consistent innovation and a commitment to meeting the needs of professionals, RIDGID has established a strong reputation in the field of locators.

In addition to utility locating devices, RIDGID has expanded its product line to include complementary tools such as inspection cameras, monitors, transmitters, and drain cleaning equipment. This comprehensive range of tools enables professionals to tackle various challenges in their respective trades.

If you're unsure about which RIDGID locator and transmitter to choose for your job, keep reading to learn about the history and key differences between plumbing and utility locators.

Tracing the Roots: The Evolution of Plumbing and Utility Locating

RIDGID locators are versatile tools used across various trades, but it's important to note their distinctions. Let's take a little trip down memory lane and dive into the fascinating story of how these locating tools came to be.

Early Applications of Faraday's Electromagnetic Scanning

Faraday's discovery of electromagnetic technology in 1831 laid the foundation for the invention of utility locating tools. By 1910, electromagnetic induction was used to locate utility lines and faults.

The early technology was bulky but provided basic information, addressing the significant problem of utility line faults. Portable versions later emerged, improving portability and accuracy.

The Transatlantic Divide: American vs. European Utility Scanning and Post-War Technological Leaps

American and European utility scanning approaches differed due to the spread-out nature of US cities and the condensed nature of European cities. American technology focused on high-frequency, low-power, and low-cost locators for scanning larger areas. At the same time, European cities with buried utility lines beneath densely packed streets and buildings required narrow and deep scanning tools.

1931 US Post-war advances led to the development of the Metallascope, the first high-performance buried pipe and utility locating tool. Several years later in 1964, Bell Laboratories then invented the Depthometer, a scanning device with two sensors, becoming the gold standard for utility locating.

Unleashing Precision: The Revolutionary Power of Twin Antenna Scanning

New twin antenna scanning devices enhanced sensitivity and separation, resulting in clearer images and depth information. Moreover, the innovation of miniaturized electronic circuitry made utility-locating equipment smaller, lighter, and more portable.

The Dynamic Duo: SeeScan and RIDGID

In the early 2000s, SeeScan and RIDGID were on a mission to revolutionize the industry. They came up with the idea of developing the NaviTrack and SeekTech brand utility locators, which perfectly complemented their SeeSnake pipe inspection equipment.

This development led to the creation of two distinct entities: DeepSea Power & Light focused on oceanographic equipment, while SeekTech, Inc. was solely dedicated to advancing utility locating and pipe inspection technologies.

The Future of Locating

In the modern era, advancements in electromagnetic scanning technology include:

  • Combining active and passive scanning to follow target lines and improve detection capabilities accurately.
  • Utilizing Simultaneous Multi-Frequency Scanning to locate multiple utility lines, saving time and resources efficiently.
  • Incorporating current detection technology to identify and test for live utility lines, ensuring safety during operations.
  • Conducting sensitivity measuring along utility lines to identify and assess potential defects or anomalies.
  • Implementing push-button depth measuring functionality for precise measurement of utility depth, aiding in planning and excavation processes.
  • Employing enhanced multi-surface scanning technology to detect utilities beneath surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, and water.

Electromagnetic induction scanning remains the industry standard for non-destructive utility scanning worldwide. It has applications in repairing:

  • Utility lines
  • Cabling
  • Fiber optics
  • Mapping construction sites
  • Archaeological digs and more

SeeScan and RIDGID’s mission is to redefine utility locating and surpass the limitations of surface markings.

SeeScan will be introducing Geo Locating in the near future. Through their relentless pursuit of innovation, they are unlocking a new era of utility detection, providing insights and information that were once hidden from view. They hope to once again revolutionize the way we understand and interpret underground infrastructure.

RIDGID Plumbing Vs. Utility Locators

Plumbing and utility locating are two essential practices that deal with the unseen infrastructure beneath our feet. While plumbing focuses on fluid-conveying systems within buildings, utility locating involves identifying and marking underground utilities before any construction or excavation. Let’s explore these two disciplines, their differences, and the industries they serve.

Plumbing Locators:

  • Locate and trace plumbing lines and pipes.
  • Identify the path of plumbing systems to detect leaks and blockages.
  • Operate at lower frequencies for metal and non-metallic pipes.
  • Features include depth measurement and signal strength indicators.
  • Used by plumbers, contractors, and maintenance professionals for diagnostics and repairs.

Utility Locators:

  • Prevent accidental damage and ensures worker safety and uninterrupted utility services.
  • Locate and trace underground utility lines (electrical, gas, telecommunications).
  • Detect a wide range of utilities, including metallic and non-metallic lines.
  • Operate at higher frequencies to detect various materials and depths.
  • Offer advanced features like multiple frequency options and GPS integration.
  • Commonly used by utility companies, construction crews, and contractors.

Key Differences:

  • Plumbing locators focus primarily on plumbing systems, while utility locators cover a broader range of underground utilities.
  • Utility Locators offer omnidirectional antennas
  • Plumbing locators help prevent damage to pipes during construction or excavation projects.
  • Plumbing locators offer multi-directional antennas
  • Utilize specialized cameras or borescopes to visually inspect the condition and blockages within pipes.
  • Utility locators prevent accidental disruptions of essential services and ensure safety during digging or construction work.

Other Professions Utilizing Locators:

  • Construction workers
  • Electricians
  • Telecommunication technicians
  • Landscapers, municipal workers
  • Excavation contractors
  • Facility maintenance personnel

Note Different trades may refer to utility locators as cable locators, pipe locators, or line locators, depending on the specific utility being addressed.

RIDGID Plumbing and Utility Locators

RIDGID leads the way in plumbing and utility locators, providing advanced solutions for professionals. Their innovative technologies detect buried plumbing, gas, and non-magnetic utilities precisely. With RIDGID's tools, plumbers and utility workers can efficiently locate hidden infrastructure, improving repairs and maintenance.

Plumbing Locators

Plumbing locators are designed to detect and trace plumbing lines, making them essential for plumbers and maintenance professionals. With the ability to identify leaks, blockages, and the path of plumbing systems, plumbing locators play a vital role in ensuring the proper functioning of water supply, drainage, and heating systems within residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.

The RIDGID 19238 Navitrack Scout Underground Pipe & Cable Locator Device is one top-rated RIDGID plumbing locator. Professionals prefer this device over other locators due to its wide range of features and capabilities. It includes a Multi-directional antenna, Automatic Depth feature and eliminates nulls and peaks, ensuring optimal performance and accuracy.

To better understand how the RIDGID NaviTrack Scout plumbing locator works, you can watch the provided video demonstrating this device's practical applications.

Its advanced technology allows plumbers to locate and trace underground pipes and cables accurately, saving time and effort during diagnostics and repairs. The Navitrack Scout has gained a reputation for its reliability and durability, with many users praising its performance and longevity.

Pro-TipJoel George, the founder of Drain Doctor plumbing and drain cleaning services in Toledo, Ohio, said that “To find an underground line, [he] grabs a RIDGID NaviTrack Scout locator” and emphasized that he has “had the Scout for 15 years.”

Utility Locators

Utility locators are indispensable tools used in various industries that involve excavation or working with underground utilities.

These devices detect and trace underground utility lines such as electrical, gas, water, and telecommunication cables. By accurately identifying the location of these utilities, utility locators help prevent accidental damage during construction, excavation, or maintenance activities, ensuring the safety of workers and the uninterrupted operation of utility services.

RIDGID offers a range of top picks for utility locators, including the RIDGID 21893 SR-20 and the RIDGID 44473 SR-24.

The RIDGID 21893 SR-20 has advanced features and capabilities, including virtual mapping and user guidance to locate the target line, precise depth minimization, and real-time depth display for enhanced accuracy. It operates at higher frequencies, allowing it to detect various materials and depths, making it suitable for various utility locating tasks.

The RIDGID 44473 SR-24 is another popular choice, offering advantages and functionalities that cater to the specific needs of utility-locating professionals, such as Bluetooth and GPS.

Check out this video on RIDGID’s SR-24 Line Locator

Pro-TipEric Huber, senior product manager at RIDGID, explained that “the SR-24 Line Locator builds on the popular SR-20 feature set, adding GPS and wireless communication to unlock a variety of user benefits. The new features of the SR-24 allow a user to streamline the process of integrating underground utility information with GPS data.”

Our Top Locator Picks: Quick Facts

Utility LocatorPlumbing Locator
RIDGID 21893 SR-20 RIDGID 44473 SR-24 NavtiTrack Scout
Omni-Directional Mapping DisplayYes Yes Yes
User-Defined FrequenciesYes up to 35 Hz Yes up to 35 Hz No
Number of Active Line Trace FrequenciesAll up to 35 Hz All up to 35 Hz 3
Sonde FrequenciesAll up to 35 Hz All up to 35 Hz 4
Passive SearchOmni-Seek (searches all passive bands at once) Omni-Seek (searches all passive bands at once) 50/60 Hz
DepthContinuous Continuous Automatic
Bluetooth/GPSNo Yes No
Power Source4 C-Size Batteries 4 X Size C, 1.5 V Alkaline, 1.2 V NiMH/NiCad 4 Alkaline C-Cell Batteries
Weight3.5 lbs. (1.6 kg). 3.5 lbs. (1.6 kg) 3 lbs (1.4 kg).

Plumbing and Utility Transmitters

Plumbing and utility transmitters work in tandem with locators to accurately identify underground infrastructure. Transmitters emit signals that locators detect, enabling precise location determination. This collaboration enhances efficiency and safety for mapping, maintenance, and construction projects, minimizing the risk of accidental damage.

Plumbing Transmitters

Watch Jim from RIDGID explain more about the RIDGID 49343 / 49343R ST-33Q+ Line Transmitter.

RIDGID offers a diverse range of advanced plumbing transmitters that bring significant advantages and functionalities to professionals in the plumbing industry. Among the popular choices is the RIDGID 49343 / 49343R ST-33Q+ Line Transmitter with Bluetooth.

This transmitter is highly acclaimed for its exceptional features and capabilities, providing seamless communication and data transfer through Bluetooth technology. Additionally, the ST-33Q+ Line Transmitter offers flexibility by supporting D-Cell alkaline and 18V rechargeable RIDGID batteries, minimizing interruptions during the job.

Utility Transmitters

Regarding utility locating, RIDGID also offers reliable and efficient utility transmitters to support various industries. Two notable models includethe RIDGID 66933 St-305R and the RIDGID 21903 ST-510.

The RIDGID 66933 is a purpose-built device for utility locating applications, delivering precise and dependable signal transmission. Designed to enhance safety in excavation and construction projects, it empowers professionals to trace and identify underground utilities confidently.

It simultaneously transmits two frequencies, enabling optimal frequency selection for accurate results. Additionally, it offers flexible power options, allowing users to choose between a Lithium-Ion 18V rechargeable battery or 6 C-cell alkaline batteries.

On the other hand, the RIDGID 21903 is designed to meet the specific requirements of utility-locating professionals, offering advanced functionalities that excel in demanding tasks.

The transmitter boasts ten watts of fully variable power output, providing the flexibility to adjust the signal strength according to the task. Its LCD display also offers instant visual feedback on line resistance and current flow, enabling users to monitor and assess the conditions in real-time.

Whether you are a plumber needing reliable plumbing transmitters or a professional involved in utility locating projects, RIDGID provides top-quality solutions. With their popular models, such as the RIDGID 49343 / 49343R ST-33Q+ and the RIDGID 66933 St-305R and 21903 ST-510 utility transmitters, RIDGID continues to innovate and provide industry-leading tools to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of plumbing and utility locating operations.

Our Top Transmitter Picks: Quick Facts

Utility TransmittersPlumbing Transmitter
RIDGID 21903 ST-510 RIDGID 66933 St-305R RIDGID 49343 / 49343R ST-33Q+
Max Power Output10W 5W 10W
Digital DisplayYes No Yes
Line Trace FrequenciesSelections up to 490 kHz 4 All up to 490 kHz
Inductive Frequencies4 3 8 kHz or 33 kHz
Simultaneous Transmit 2 Line FrequenciesNo yes No
Weight w/batteries7.5 lbs 2.4 lbs./ 1.1 kg 11.1 lbs./5.0 kg
Bluetooth/GPSNo No Yes
Rechargeable BatteriesAvailable No/18V / 6 C-Cell Yes

Choosing the right locator

When choosing a RIDGID locator, it's essential to consider factors such as application, frequency range, depth range, display/interface, accuracy, durability, battery life, additional features, budget, and customer reviews. By weighing these factors, you can find the perfect RIDGID locator for your needs.

When choosing the right RIDGID locator, consider the following factors:

  • Application: Determine the specific purpose for which you need the locator. RIDGID offers various locators for applications, such as utility line locating, cable and pipe locating, or underground inspection.
  • Frequency: Check the frequency range supported by the RIDGID locator. Different frequencies are suitable for different types of materials and depths. Ensure that your locator has the appropriate frequency range for your needs.
  • Depth Range: Consider the maximum depth range the locator can reach. If you anticipate needing to locate objects at greater depths, ensure the locator you select has the necessary depth range.
  • Display and Interface: Evaluate the display and interface options the locator provides. Look for clear, easy-to-read displays, intuitive controls, and user-friendly interfaces that enable efficient operation and accurate readings.
  • Accuracy and Precision: Assess the accuracy and precision of the locator. Look for models that provide precise measurements and reliable locating results to ensure the effectiveness of your tasks.
  • Durability and Portability: Consider the durability and portability of the locator. Look for rugged construction and weather-resistant features to withstand demanding conditions. Additionally, check if the locator is lightweight and portable for easy use and transportation.
  • Battery Life: Check the battery life of the locator. Longer battery life allows for extended use without frequent recharging or replacement, ensuring uninterrupted operation during your projects.
  • Additional Features: Explore additional features or accessories that may enhance your locating capabilities. These can include GPS integration, mapping software compatibility, data logging capabilities, or connectivity options to external devices.
  • Budget: Set a budget for your locator purchase and find a model that offers the best combination of features, performance, and value within your allocated budget.

Considering these, you can narrow your options and choose the right RIDGID locator that best fits your requirements and ensures successful locating tasks.

Let’s Recap

When it comes to underground utility location and repair, RIDGID is an absolute game-changer. Their plumbing and utility locators save time, money, and energy while providing precise accuracy and optimal performance. For any professional in construction, plumbing, utility maintenance, telecoms, and more, RIDGID's locators are the best choice for confidently identifying buried lines.

Whether you need a locator that offers exceptional precision or one with robust features and powerful functionality, RIDGID has the right products for your needs. Experimentation is key in this trade— so try out all the different products offered by RIDGID until you find one that works best for you.

To find all the necessary items for reliable locating, shop RIDGID plumbing and utility locators and streamline your work. And don’t forget to include a transmitter along with your order.

Shop RIDGID Utility LocatorsShop RIDGID Plumbing Locators

RIDGID Locators Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do you use a RIDGID Pipe Locator?
  • Check out this quick tutorial on the Navitrack Scout Sonde Locator

  • What is a sonde locator?
  • RIDGID sonde locators specialize in locating buried plastic water pipes, gas pipes, and other non-magnetic utilities.