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What's on That Pole?


A utility pole might seem simple—a wooden post with wires—but it’s surprisingly complex. How does it all work together to deliver electricity and sometimes other utilities to your homes and businesses?

From top to bottom, an electric utility pole may have:

Primary wires, which carry 7,200 volts of electricity from a substation—60 times higher than the voltage that runs through your home’s electrical outlets.

Insulators, which prevent energized wires from contacting each other or the pole.

Surge arresters, which protect transformers from lightning strikes. A neutral wire, which acts as a line back to the substation that’s tied to the ground, balancing the electricity on the system.

A secondary service drop, which carries 120 or 240 volts of electricity to homes. It has two hot wires from the transformer and a bare neutral wire that’s connected to the ground wire on the pole.

A ground wire, which connects to the neutral wire to complete the circuit inside the transformer and directs electricity safely into the earth.

Phone, cable and fiber-optic wires, which, if present, are usually the lowest wires on the pole.

Posted: 1/2/2023 3:36:01 PM
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