Are All Pliers Insulated? Insulated Pliers vs Regular Pliers

When it comes to working with electricity, safety is of the utmost importance. One tool that is commonly used in electrical work is pliers, and it is easy to assume that all pliers are insulated.

However, this is not always the case. Not every plier with a rubber or plastic handle is actually insulated against the electrical current, particularly for high voltages. It is crucial to verify that the pliers you are using are properly insulated in order to protect yourself from electrical shock.

In this article, we will delve into the question of whether all pliers are truly insulated, and the difference between insulated pliers and regular pliers.

Insulated plier
Insulated pliers

Different Types of Handle Construction

It’s easy to assume that all pliers with coated handles are insulated and safe to use on electrical tasks. While some pliers may have rubber or plastic handles for added comfort and grip, they may not provide the necessary insulation to protect against electric shock. It’s important to understand the different types of handles and their intended purposes in order to choose the right tool for the job.

Thin Plastic or Nylon Handles

These handles are typically found on regular pliers and are meant to provide a comfortable grip and prevent the tool from slipping out of your hand. They do not provide any insulation, so they should not be used on electrical tasks.

Thin Plastic or Nylon Handle
Thin Plastic or Nylon Handles

Thick Foam or Rubber Handles

Like the thin plastic handles, these handles are primarily for added comfort and grip. They do offer some insulation, but it is not reliable or rated for high voltages. These handles should also not be used on electrical tasks.

INCP8 insulated electrical plier
insulated electrical plier

Insulated Handles

Pliers with insulated handles are specifically designed for use in electrical tasks. They provide true electrical isolation up to a certain voltage threshold, typically 1000V AC or 1500V DC. These handles are thick and feature a guard rail to prevent your hand from slipping onto the metal portion of the tool.

When shopping for pliers to use on electrical tasks, be sure to look for the ASTM F1505-16(2021) standard, which ensures that the insulation material meets the necessary performance and durability requirements.

Insulated pliers vs regular pliers

Insulated pliers are an essential tool for anyone working on or around electrical equipment. While regular pliers may have plastic or nylon handles, they do not provide proper insulation and can be dangerous to use on electrical tasks. In contrast, insulated pliers are designed to protect against electric shock and provide proper insulation for working on energized electrical apparatus or conductors.

Insulated Plier vs Regular Plier

What are insulated pliers?

According to the ASTM F1505 standard, insulated pliers must retain dielectric properties for voltages less than 1000V AC or 1500V DC. They must also be flame resistant and able to function within a temperature range of -20°C (-4°F) to 70°C (158°F). In addition, insulated pliers should have a guard rail to prevent the user’s hand from slipping onto the metal parts of the tool.

What are ideal insulated electrical pliers?

Ideal insulated electrical pliers are premium quality pliers designed for comfort and control during use. They have ergonomic cushion grip handles and dual durometer construction for durability. The handles are directly molded to the tool steel for a permanent bond and feature a slip guard handle design for added protection.

These pliers are individually tested to 10,000 volts AC and rated to 1,000 volts AC for safety in energized applications. They are VDE Certified and meet EN/IEC 60900, ASTM F1505, NFPA-70E, and CSA testing standards.

They are made of special C70 tool steel that is hardened and tempered and has an extra long cutting edge for flat and round cables. The cutting edges and jaws are induction hardened for superior sharpness and longevity. These pliers also have a knurled striking zone.

SATA 8-Inch VDE Insulated Long Needle-Nose Side Cutting Pliers with Chrome Vanadium Steel Body and Dual Material Anti-Slip Handles

Who needs insulated pliers?

If you work with or near energized circuits and equipment, it is essential to have a pair of insulated pliers in your toolkit. These pliers provide protection against electric shock and proper insulation, making them crucial for the safety of anyone working on electrical tasks.

While regular pliers may have plastic or nylon handles for comfort and grip, they do not offer the same level of protection as insulated pliers. It is important for electricians, HVAC technicians, and anyone else working with electricity to understand and follow safety guidelines and regulations to ensure their safety on the job.

Having a good pair of insulated pliers can make all the difference in preventing accidents and injuries while working with electricity.

Do not use insulated pliers on live circuits!

It is extremely important to never use insulated tools on live circuits. While these tools are designed to provide protection against electric shock, they are not meant to be used on live wires. Doing so can put you at risk for electric shock and potentially cause serious injury or even death.

Always make sure to de-energize circuits before working on them and follow all safety guidelines and regulations for electrical work to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.

Standards govern when you need to use insulated pliers

There are various standards and regulations that dictate when you should use insulated pliers for electrical work.

One of the main standards is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 70E standard, which covers the use of insulated tools in electrical work. According to this standard, you should use insulated tools when working on or near electricity greater than 50V. It is important to follow these standards and guidelines in order to ensure the safety of yourself and others while working on electrical tasks.

In addition to following industry standards, it is also important to use common sense and take proper safety precautions when working with electricity, such as verifying that circuits are de-energized before accessing potentially live wires.

Overall, the use of insulated pliers is crucial for anyone working with or near energized circuits or equipment in order to protect against the risk of electrical shock.


It is important to understand that not all pliers are insulated and suitable for use on electrical tasks. While plastic or rubber handles may provide a comfortable grip, they do not necessarily provide the necessary insulation to protect against electrical shocks.

It is crucial to verify that your pliers are properly insulated, with a rating for a specific voltage range, before using them on any electrical work. Insulated pliers, while potentially more expensive, offer an added layer of protection and are essential for electricians, HVAC technicians, and others working with or near energized circuits and equipment.

It is also important to follow all safety guidelines and regulations when working with electricity, in order to prevent accidents and injuries.

In summary, always prioritize safety and choose the right tools for the job.

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