What kind of gloves should I wear during electrical work?

I need to know which glove material is most suitable for this kind of work, as I wish to purchase the proper gloves.

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    Only time I wore gloves doing electrical was when working with 480V or higher, usually having to take the switch gear on or off the bus. For household stuff I kill the power and don't wear gloves. – Wayne In Yak Sep 7 '16 at 13:36
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    I wear synthetic mechanics gloves strictly for comfort. Helps protect my hands while fishing cable and from getting stabbed by the occasional wire. Also, don't forget safety glasses when fishing cable or removing old cable. I learned this one the hard way when I was pulling out some old NM cable and it recoiled straight into my eye. Luckily it was just a scratch that healed within a few days, but it's definitely not worth the risk to go without safety glasses. – statueuphemism Sep 7 '16 at 15:35
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    Are you asking about gloves to protect from electricity or regular gloves just to protect your hands from dust and sharp edges? – Freiheit Sep 7 '16 at 17:12
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    There is a very simple security practice that may keep your heart working: Work only with one hand, as far as possible, and keep the other one strictly behind your back, (firmly grabbing your belt, ideally). That reduces the probability that to much current runs through your heart - on it's way from the source you touched accidentally, to the grounded thing you hold on with the other hand. That applies with and without gloves. – Volker Siegel Sep 7 '16 at 21:24
  • @Volker Siegel the other essential part of that advice is to wear shoes with PVC or other plastic soles, so the current cannot flow in through your hand and out through the moist leather sole of your shoe to ground. – nigel222 Sep 8 '16 at 13:29

Depends on the voltage you're working with.

If you're working in a residential setting, simply turn off the power and wear any type of glove you find comfortable (including none).

If working in an industrial setting, where turning the power off is not an option. You'll have to choose a glove system based on the voltage you'll be working with. A glove system should always consist of an appropriate insulating glove, and a protective leather glove. A glove liner is an optional part of the system, and can be worn depending on how dainty your hands are.

ASTM D120-14a divides gloves into the following classes:

  • Class 00 - Good for up to 500 volts.
  • Class 0 - Up to 1,000 volts.
  • Class 1 - Up to 7,500 volts.
  • Class 2 - Up to 17,000 volts.
  • Class 3 - Up to 26,500 volts.
  • Class 4 - Up to 36,000 volts.

WARNING: Always properly test your gloves before each use. Visual inspection and air testing is the most common method. If you're using these gloves, you've hopefully been trained how to care for and test them. If not, you probably shouldn't be doing anything that requires you to use them.

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    Your last statement is the key: If you haven't been trained how to care and test them, then you shouldn't be doing anything that requires you to use them. Electrical work should be treated with great respect. – cale_b Sep 8 '16 at 15:34

If you are not working with live circuits or high-voltage capacitors -- and you shouldn't be, if at all possible -- gloves are unnecessary

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    This doesn't answer the question, "What kind of gloves should I wear ...?" – Rob Sep 7 '16 at 14:04
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    Sure it does: in most cases, none. In the exceptional cases, you need to look at exactly which voltages you are working with, how much mechanical wear the gloves will have to endure, etc. – keshlam Sep 7 '16 at 14:10
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    -1 safety is never "necessary" but that doesn't mean there's no point in taking precautions. I wear gloves even when working on open circuits, because mechanical/human errors do happen. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 7 '16 at 17:04
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    Useful, perhaps. Not generally Necessary. Those aren't exactly mortal wounds, @Snowman. – keshlam Sep 7 '16 at 22:09
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    @Snowman Not much of a snowman if you're wearing gloves in winter... – Brad Sep 8 '16 at 16:45

For residential work, gloves are unnecessary and perhaps counterproductive. Best practice would be to:

  1. Get a tester (so you can check that a circuit is shut off)
  2. Check your tester on the circuit you want to work on BEFORE you shut it off (confirms the tester is working and you will be shutting of the intended circuit)
  3. Shut off the circuit you want to work on
  4. Check to make sure it's off
  5. Work bare-handed (I find it easier).

Get a bulk pack of cheap mechanics gloves. Take a few pair and cut the fingers off until they look like these expensive ones.

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(source)

I cut all the fingers off, but be sure they still cover your second knuckle. That's about all they're for; to protect your knuckles against the sharp edges of J-boxes, and having a cover on your palm while you payout wire.

Note, these only alleviate abrasions and in no way will they protect you from electrical hazards.

You only need one glove to keep from having a fatal shock to your heart from one hand to the other unless you are standing in water on concrete or ground with conductive shoes. Any glove that protects against contact would help, but an cloth lined rubber glove could save you. However, if you ask this question, you are probably not qualified to do electrical work.

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    I think this would be better phrased "A single glove can help prevent a fatal shock, but gloves should not be relied on for protection". I've pierced a heavy leather work glove (and my thumb) with a sharp wire - had I been counting on that glove for protection, it would not have worked. – Johnny Sep 7 '16 at 19:37
  • Nitrile gloves will protect against contact, but will experience electrical breakdown in 400V environments easily. One of the reasons why you should not be near a defibrillator even with them. – PlasmaHH Sep 8 '16 at 8:20
  • Nice idea. I'd never thought of the safety benefit of an insulating glove on the hand that you are not doing the fiddly electrical work with! But the golden rule must remain, make sure that the power is OFF. – nigel222 Sep 8 '16 at 13:44
  • "What kind of gloves should I wear during electrical work?" is not answered by "You only need one glove..." nor by "Any glove that protects against contact would help..." since the OP didn't ask "What is better than nothing..." the question is "What should I wear?" Consider revising your answer, or submitting a comment instead. – Adam Davis Sep 8 '16 at 15:26
  • Short sleeves and a forearm lightly resting on trunking (or any equivalent configuration involving head/neck/legs) would suggest otherwise – Chris H Sep 9 '16 at 9:37

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