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Utility Pole FAQ- What You Need to Know

Utility poles may not be the most thrilling topic to discuss over dinner, but they are critical for power distribution in the United States.


Anyone who works at a utility company will certainly know the value that poles have in North America.


Depending on your experience in the industry, you may still have some questions about utility materials like poles.


Today, we’ll share some answers to the most-asked questions about utility poles that you should know.


Common Questions

Let’s start with the basics. Here are the top facts to know:


What is the standard height?

Utility poles come in several different sizes based on the pole class. On average, they are around 40 feet tall. However, the typical range includes poles sized 30 to 60 feet tall.


Along major highways, you will see larger poles. You can expect to see poles 60-120 feet tall along the major roadways.


What do the wires do?

Attached to the pole, you find distribution lines. So, do all of these wires conduct electricity? What about the grounding wire?


The top three wires on the pole are the primary conductors. These are power lines that bring electricity from the substations.


Then, there are the secondary wires. The secondary wires send a lower voltage of electricity down to the buildings.


Below the secondary wires, you may find cable wires and telephone wires.


How are the power lines attached to the poles?

Of course, not just any material will work for power lines since they carry electricity. Typically, the lines are connected to the poles with insulated, resistant materials like polymer or ceramic.


The connectors are able to make contact with the pole while preventing any electricity leak. Therefore, they are a key safety feature that prevents harm on the ground.


How much electricity do they carry?

The distribution systems are critical for the electricity around the country. These transmission lines can carry more than 300,000 volts of electricity! The distribution lines then reduce the voltage based on where the electricity goes. For example, homes and businesses will usually get 120 to 240 volts of electricity while industrial buildings receive 220 to 440 volts.


Types

What are the potential pole materials?

There are three potential materials that these poles may be made from. The options for pole materials include:

  • Steel

  • Concrete

  • Wood


What are the reasons to use wood poles?

Despite advancements with steel and concrete, wood is still an excellent material for these poles. A few benefits of using wood poles include:

  • It’s a cost-effective solution. It costs less to produce a wood pole and they have a fairly long lifespan.

  • Sustainability. Treated wood poles are environmentally sustainable. It is also more environmentally friendly to maintain existing wood poles that are in good condition than to replace them all.

  • Durable. Treated wood can withstand harsh weather and battle decay.

  • Easier transport. Compared to other materials, wood is lighter and a bit easier to haul.

  • Avoid the domino effect for easier, faster repairs.


Why consider concrete poles?

Concrete poles may be very heavy, but they are still ideal for some projects. Here are the benefits of using reinforced concrete utility poles:

  • Extremely strong material. They have the longest lifespan potential.

  • Resistant to rot even in the harshest conditions.

  • Erosion and rust-proof, making them ideal for areas with heavy winds and storms.

  • Fire-resistant, ideal for areas with frequent forest fires.

  • Resistant to termites.

What are the benefits of steel poles?

Many companies are replacing old wood poles with steel poles. Here are some of the top benefits of steel utility poles:

  • Durable, weather-resistant material that allows for more reliable utility service.

  • Easier to repair, helping to reduce downtime.

  • Cost-effective in the long term. Upfront, they are more expensive. However, their extremely long lifecycle and low maintenance costs make them very affordable in the long run.

  • Low maintenance, they do not require much upkeep.

  • Environmentally friendly because of their longer lifespan and high recycling rate.

  • Reduce the risk of accidents during repair and limit damage during crashes.

How can I choose a pole material?

Concrete, steel, and wood all have benefits and drawbacks. They also all meet the National Electrical Safety Code. So, which material is best for you?


To choose a pole material, you must consider the unique project at hand including:

  • The overload factors and the pole-mounted position.

  • The current distribution systems.

  • Climate, weather, and risks of the locations. (wet vs dry, hot vs cold, seasons vs no seasons).

  • How many poles do you need?

  • The demand on the distribution lines.

  • Roadside location (highway vs town).

  • The budget.

  • Local restrictions and rules.

  • The electrical safety code NESC.

  • And more!

For more advice, read this single-phase guide on How to Choose a Material for Utility Poles.


How Can I Haul Utility Poles?

After learning more about utility poles, you may still wonder about how to get them to the material yard. The truth is, hauling utility poles remains a major challenge.


The best solution for your utility hauling needs is Blackwood Resources. Our dedicated team of professional operators is proud to offer a track record of safety. Whether you need help hauling concrete poles, wood poles, steel poles, utility transformers, or utility pipes, we are your top solution!


We leverage specialized equipment and recruit only the best drivers and operators to ensure quality service for each haul. As an asset-based hauling company, we own our equipment and directly hire our team so you can count on our reliability and accountability.


Our industry-leading equipment allows us to offer self-unloading onsite as well. You never need to worry about renting additional equipment or hiring riggers to unload. Our team does it for you in a matter of minutes!


You can count on Blackwood Resources for your next utility hauling project. Learn more about our services and how we can help you today. Contact us today at 812-676-8770 or jamie@blackwoodresources.com.

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1 Comment


Brian Moran
Brian Moran
Dec 25, 2023

Can I use a used utility pole

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