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FAQ: What is a good metal detector for use by utility companies, construction companies, and landscapers?

FAQ: What is a good metal detector for use by utility companies, construction companies, and landscapers?
There are many reasons a person may want to either rent or purchase a metal detector other than seeking fortunes.  We get calls from people who have wood mills who need to search a log or pole prior to running it through their mill to avoid destroying a blade. We outfit law enforcement officers for screening and searching crime scenes. By far, the most common reason is to find property markers, meter boxes, septic tanks, and sprinkler heads.  Sometimes we rent or sell them to individuals and sometimes we work with larger companies. 
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Sometimes utility companies need locator that may cost thousands of dollars.  These are handy for finding buried lines or pipes.  They are used by connecting a transmitter to a portion of the line or pipe that is above ground. The operator then traces that specific signal along the line.  Often though, the user may simply need to find something beneath the ground that doesn't require tracing.  This is when a general use metal detector will fit the build without spending heaps of money.
Recently I have been working with a utility company looking to outfit 100 operators with metal detectors to help them be more efficient out in the field. 
The company had already chosen Garrett Metal detectors, which was a great choice on their end.  Garret offers rugged and reliable metal detectors that are not too difficult to use but offer all of the features necessary for the majority of their needs.
We have been renting metal detectors to utility companies, construction companies, landscaping companies, and the like for years.  So, I do have a fair amount of experience on their effectiveness and what features might be needed for various situations.  We sell all major brands of metal detectors and I do feel like Garrett is a great choice for was situation.  Their service and support are the best in the industry and their detectors don't have the steep learning curve of some other international brands.  And Garret is made in the U.S.A...'Merica!
They had already narrowed their choices down to the ACE Series.  Which, again, was a good choice.  Ease of use, versatility, and high quality construction make this line of metal detectors a great fit for a utility company.  
In my opinion, although the ACE 300 would probably do the job, I do feel like the ACE 400 was the way to go.  It is the one we rent out nearly 100% of the time for utility work. 
In their situation I suggested they should veer away from the ACE 200 and focus on the other two.  Here is why:
  • It is too basic of a machine to serve utility services needs. 
  • First, it operates at very low frequencies and it has a small concentric coil.  It is great for finding coins but not for any smaller items, buried cable, etc. 
  • Second, it does not have a frequency adjustment.  If the user is operating near anything that causes EMI (power lines, radio tower, etc.) you are not able to adjust the machine to balance out those signals.
  • Third, headphones would be something I would definitely outfit the crew with. The ACE 200 does not come with headphones as the other two units do. In my experience many utility companies are often searching near roads, construction, windy conditions, etc. 
  • Next, the ACE 300 and 400 allow the operator to notch out different targets and allow more fine tuning ability to eliminate undesirable trash objects; the 200 does not allow this nearly as well.
  • The Ace 200 also lacks a Pinpoint function.  This function is vital to quickly and accurately locate an object with precision.   
  • The ACE 200 and 300 have what are called concentric coils (round).  These are smaller, round coils that work well for locating targets but they are not as precise or as big as the 11" DD coil the ACE 400 has. Larger coils allow you to find deeper targets and a Double D Coil is way more precise than a concentric coil.
  • Additionally I would recommend outfitting the detectors with coil covers, which protect one of the most precious and valuable parts of the detector.  The ACE 200 does not come with a coil cover.  The ACE 300 and 400 both come with coil covers.  
Finally, I recommended getting pinpointers for their crew.  Once a target is generally located with one of the ACE units, a pinpointer will help them quickly zero in on a target once they begin digging or even help them pinpoint targets very precisely before digging. 
At the time of the conversation there was a really good special Garret was offering where the Pinpointer was around $100 off (almost free) if you bought the ACE 400 Summer Special. Garret periodically offers these specials...if you pay attention you can capitalize on it.
This is a huge savings. With this special, financially, it makes very little sense to choose the ACE 300 when you can get a better metal detector for almost the same price.  With the ACE 200, after adding headphones, coil cover, environmental cover up, and pinpointer, you are getting way less of a machine for a negligibly lower price.  To me, it was a no brainer.

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  • Joshua Turpin