If you live in a neighborhood with above ground utility poles, you’ve most likely noticed the tangle of wires connecting pole to pole, house to house. But, have you ever taken the time to learn the intricacies of the utility pole and the services it provides to your home? Chances are, it is more complicated than you thought.
Utility poles can range considerably in height, and carry a lot more than just the electricity to your home. The specific systems utilized on your utility pole may vary with when it was built, but the basic framework can be explained consistently with main vertical spaces.
The groundwire, which runs the entire length of the pole, is used to safely conduct electricity to the ground in case of emergency. This protects workers operating on the pole as well as the stability of the pole itself.
There is a grouping of wires in the top section of the pole that ultimately conducts electricity from the pole to your home. This is called the supply space. At the top of the supply space is typically a static wire responsible for protecting other lines from lightning. The next is a group of lines called primary conductors, or distribution lines. The volts of electricity that these wires conduct can vary considerably from pole to pole. But, this amount of electricity isn’t being transferred into houses. Transformers help regulate the amount of electricity provided to customers from the wires themselves by reducing the voltage from primary to secondary wires. The secondary conductors are the wires responsible for transferring the electricity to buildings and houses.
An important component of the utility pole is neutral space. This is an intentional gap made between the electric lines and the communication lines meant to protect workers from high voltage levels. This means that the lowest hanging electrical line must be a specified distance away from the highest hanging communication line.
Under the lines that supply electricity and the neutral space are the communication lines. These include telephone, broadband, and cable TV. The height that these lines hang over the ground vary from pole height to pole height as well as the surface underneath the lines (walkways, railroads, roads, etc.).
Utility poles provide much more than just electricity to your homes, and are built with care for your neighborhood and the workers operating on the poles.
What are all those wires?