What are Utility Poles in the United States Made of?
A power pole is essential when power lines can not be run underground, like in rural areas. Utility project managers in this country must know what type of utility pole to use for electric and telephone lines. What are utility poles in the United States made of? What are the pros and cons of each? What is the easiest way to haul them?
This short article answers these and more questions for curious utility managers.
Steel poles are made from an alloy of iron with carbon. They are highly resistant to a variety of things. However, their durability can work against them when it comes to transportation.
Pros of Steel Poles
Steel poles can be used for coastal installations with little worry due to their resistance to water, wind, and heat. Steel poles can last in coastal environments for 50 years or longer.
Due to their durability, steel poles can be counted on to stand strong in the face of severe weather. They can withstand blizzards, thunderstorms, and strong winds.
Easy to repair
Although they can resist most damage, steel poles must occasionally be repaired. It is typically faster and easier to repair a steel pole than it is a wood or concrete one.
Long term cost-effectiveness
Steel poles might be expensive but they can prove to be cost-effective over their life cycles. Installation and upkeep are usually cheaper because they do not require much labor. Their durability helps ensure they last longer, meaning they will not need frequent maintenance.
Cons of Steel Poles
Removal Costs and Logistics
Replacing them or changing them to either wood or concrete poles requires removing the standing poles, and then purchasing, transporting, and installing the new ones. This arduous process could take a lot of time and money, greatly increasing a utility project’s budget.
Since they weigh more, steel poles could have high load requirements. Transporting them requires the proper equipment and planning.
Many types of straight trees are used to make wood utility poles. Most wooden poles are made from Southern Yellow Pine which has been pressure treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate. Douglas fir is another common sturdy and lightweight choice. Western red cedar is another popular option.
The North American Wood Pole Council promotes wood poles as cost-effective choices. However, their lack of durability can make them liabilities that an electrical power utility company might pass on using.
Pros of Wood Poles
Wood poles are relatively less expensive than steel and concrete. They can cost less to produce and use.
It takes fewer resources and less energy to make wood poles than their counterparts. Wood poles are often made from renewable materials. They can even be recycled once they reach the end of their life cycles.
Wood poles can hold up against the elements. They can be treated to stand strong against weather and insects.
Easier to handle
Despite their size, wood poles are generally lighter than steel and concrete poles. Hauling and installing them is easier as is climbing them for repairs.
Cons of Wood Poles
Prone to decay, fungi, and insects
If wood poles are not specially treated, then they can suffer the ravages of weather and insects like termites. Decayed wood poles could collapse, necessitating immediate repair. Wood poles should be frequently maintained to avoid these devastating effects.
Difficult to overhaul to new material
There are approximately 130 million wooden utility poles around the United States. Utility project managers might opt to replace wood poles with the same material because it is less expensive than switching to steel or concrete. Since most of the country’s infrastructure is based on wood poles, it can be expensive to change the material.
Concrete poles are made from a mixture of gravel, sand, cement, and water. Concrete is extremely durable but also very difficult to maintain and transport.
Pros of Concrete Poles
Concrete poles are stronger than steel and wood poles. Due to their strength, concrete poles can also last longer than their alternatives.
Rot, rust, and corrosion resistance
Concrete poles do not rot like wood poles, making them ideal for humid climates. Concrete poles also do not rust like steel poles. Additionally, they resist insects like termites, which can damage wood poles.
Concrete poles can stand up against fire, making them crucial for areas where wildfires frequently happen.
Cons of Concrete Poles
Difficult to repair
Patching concrete can be more difficult than repairing wood or steel. Therefore, it might be easier to replace them. However, that carries difficulties as well.
Difficult to transport
Concrete poles are usually heavier than other utility pole options. Their weight must be taken into serious consideration when planning to haul them. Plus, their weight means higher hauling costs.
It takes a lot of energy to manufacture concrete poles. Trucks have to use more fuel to transport them. Although their weight can be a significant benefit, concrete poles can also adversely affect the environment.
Use Blackwood Resources for Your Pole Hauling
There is a lot to consider when selecting utility poles. One topic is transportation.
Blackwood Resources is one of the most trusted companies for hauling any type of utility pole. Since 2017, we have proved to be an integral link in the utility supply chain.
Hauling all across the United States, we can transport materials up to 90 feet long. We can complete the transportation and distribution process so you do not have to spend time hiring trucks, cranes, riggers, and more. If you are juggling multiple projects, you can give us the responsibility of loading, hauling, and unloading your utility poles and other freight to your job site.
Our professional operators and boom-equipped tractors allow us to self-load and unload materials at your site with ease. We also provide you with relocation services to support your project in any number of ways.
We not only want to meet your pole transportation needs but we want to exceed your expectations. Please contact us today.