What's an insulator?

By Bill Meier; posted August 3, 2006

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I often get inquiries about various insulators. We also know that if you don't know what it is, and it is glass, it must be "an insulator" as witnessed by some of the strange things listed on eBay as insulators. But this takes the cake! Here is an email dialog I had with a person.

Person: I have 2 large old insulators " how do I identify them??

Bill: You need to send descriptions of them, type of material, size, any writing on them, color, and ideally a photo.

Person: It is in good shape " could use a coat of paint. Here are 2 photos " it is VERY heavy will take 2 men to move.

Bill: (thinking to himself) ... coat of paint? and VERY heavy? Well... hmmm... some of those station post insulators are very heavy...

Bill: (scrolling down and seeing attached picture -- see picture above -- and emailing polite reply) I'm not sure if something got crossed up here, but you said you had two insulators... what you sent me was a couple of pictures of a dog house????

Person: I'm sorry " yes sent this by mistake. Sorry " I will take photos of insulators and send to you " will also see if anything is written on them.

Bill: (thinking to himself) Phew! At least they know dog houses aren't insulators :-)

Person: (in next email) Here are 4 photos " I don't know if you can see them very good or not. There is no writing on them at all " I have 2 of these. I think they are ceramic. They are about 12" tall " and have 4 rings going around them. The color is a maroon or brown maybe. I believe these are from Florida Power & Light " here in FL " at least from the 1960's.

This time the attached pictures were as expected... a porcelain insulator!