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The Types of Utility Poles

Utility poles connect much of North America together. Between a pole supporting communication cables, data transmission, telephone wires, and other public utilities, they are an absolute necessity. Poles carrying information across the country have brought us all closer together.

Never before in our history has California felt so close to New York. That is thanks, in large part, to utility poles carrying information across the country. Traditionally utility poles are wooden but there are benefits and downsides to attach to all the different options.

Wood Poles

Many utility poles are made of wood. Wooden poles are the most cost-effective and popular choice for utility poles. The exact material of these poles is typically pine, cedar, or fir. Companies will season this wood prior to use. The seasoning process involves leaving the tree to dry out before use and then treating it.

As they are cheap and easily obtained, this has been the most popular option for power lines for many years. The process for crafting, transporting, and installing these is often much simpler than other options. After seasoning, the poles undergo treatment to prevent rot and fungi.

That said, they are still prone to rotting. In addition to this, wooden transmission lines have a limited voltage. They also run a fire risk in extreme heat or electric shock. This option is often preferred for distribution poles and telephone poles.

The typical lifespan of a wooden pole is around 25-50 years. While these have traditionally been the standard option, the price of lumber is continually increasing. With that increase, other options may start to make more and more sense.

Steel Poles

Steel poles are more durable and environmentally friendly than traditional wooden ones. A steel pole supporting overhead lines can support high voltage electricity. Couple that with their higher loading capacity and they are quite enticing. Public utilities use steel poles for a couple of reasons:

  • Lighting: Referred to as “swagged poles,” these are typically shopped for extra strength.

  • Road Signs: These use “stepped poles,” with built-in maintenance steps.

Steel poles are useful but they are not without their drawbacks. More safety precautions are necessary due to the nature of a metal frame that works to carry electricity. For this reason and the cost of materials, steel poles are significantly more expensive than wooden ones.

These are also a good fit for transmission poles. These typically require more intricate designs than standard street poles. It's worth noting that these will also likely need a supporting cable and/or guy wire which is an additional cost as well.

While the initial cost may be a hurdle, they do offer a longer lifespan. Galvanized steel telephone poles offer a minimum lifespan of 30 years but may last up to 80 before the need for replacement.

Concrete Poles

Concrete utility poles can carry a heavy a much heavier weight. They are extremely resilient to weather and corrosion. Wildlife damage is also relatively protected. They have the best use-case in coastal areas and places where the pole is withstanding intense weather conditions.

The biggest downside of concrete utility poles is their weight. If they are not constructed in the area they will be, they are very costly to transport. On the flip side, if construction does happen on location, the utilization of a large area of space will be necessary for production. Concrete poles also pose quite an extreme potential safety hazard if they weaken.

If the pole is using spun-cast concrete, it has a lifespan of at least 50 years. Of course, if their placement is somewhere without frequent extreme weather conditions or harsh winds, they are likely to last much longer.

When dealing with concrete poles, it is also a good idea to remember that they are not easily modified. They are bulky, heavy poles and once they’re up, they’re going to stay there for some time. This is exactly what many cases call for. Not all of them, though!

Blackwood Resources is Here to Help Haul Utility Poles!

When deciding the best material for a utility pole, the decision comes down to your specific needs. For many, wooden poles are still the go-to option as they provide a dependable lifespan and an affordable price. Concrete poles are going to withstand the elements the best but will also cost more and be more difficult to transport.

Transportation is another issue altogether. For all these options, you need to get the poles to your material yard. Wooden poles are lighter but they are still likely to weigh thousands of pounds.

Luckily, Blackwood Resources is here to help. Our dedicated, professional staff is a trusted partner in the utility process. Our utility hauling services allow you to rest assured that your utility poles will arrive safely and efficiently. Our certified women-owned trucking company provides asset-based hauling that includes self-unloading.

Learn more about how Blackwood Resources can help with your pole hauling need. Give us a call today at 812-219-5821 or email us directly at Our team is here to walk you through the options and ensure that you are fully taken care of.



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