What’s on that pole?
This illustration shows the basic equipment found on electric utility poles. The equipment varies according to the location and the service they provide.
- Primary wires
- Primary wires carry 7,200 volts of electricity from a substation. That voltage is 60 times higher than the voltage that runs through your home’s electrical outlets!
- Surge arrestor
- This protects the transformer from lightning strikes.
- Neutral wire
- The neutral wire acts as a line back to the substation and is tied to the ground, balancing the electricity on the system.
- Secondary service drop
- Carries 120/240-volts of electricity to consumers’ homes. It has two “hot” wires from the transformer and a bare “neutral” wire that’s connected to the ground wire on the pole.
- Ground wire
- The ground wire connects to the neutral wire to complete the circuit inside the transformer. It also directs electricity from lightning safely into the earth.
- Telephone, cable TV, and fiber wires
- These are typically the lowest wires on the pole.
- Insulators prevent energized wires from contacting each other or the pole.
Never nail posters or other items to utility poles. These create a safety hazard for lineworkers.
Original illustration by Erin Binkley
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