How To Identify Powerline Voltage Level And Safe Clearance

Your electrical powerline is delivering up to 120,000 volts of electricity to your home or business right now! The last thing you want to do is mess with those high voltage power lines, but how much clearance should you keep between those power lines and your house or office? And what are the dangers of walking across the power lines themselves? We’ll answer these questions in this article on how to identify powerline voltage level and safe clearance.



When it comes to identifying dangerous power lines and ensuring a safe clearance, three types of power lines come into play: transmission, distribution and communication. Each type of line presents a different voltage level to professionals working in proximity to them. Professionals can identify a dangerous line through color codes on power poles and by using several safety techniques that ensure compliance with all local regulations and guidelines.

Transmission lines, also known as translines or power lines, are responsible for bringing electricity from generating plants to substations. The voltage of translines ranges from 35,000 volts to 765,000 volts and can cause severe injury or death to anyone who comes into contact with them. Transmission lines do not have any color code in their plastic covering.

The type of power line that comes in communication with home and commercial buildings is known as a distribution line. Distribution lines run from substations to homes and businesses and have a voltage level between 2,000 and 35,000 volts. The plastic covering on these lines has black stripes every few inches to represent its dangerous voltage levels. Some poles may have transformers which connect low-voltage distribution lines to high-voltage distribution lines at street level. These poles have red stripes painted on them.

Communication lines, also known as telecommunication or telcom lines, are responsible for transmitting telephone and cable signals to homes and businesses. These lines operate at a voltage level of about 1,000 volts and can cause serious injury if anyone comes into contact with them. The plastic covering on these poles has blue stripes every few inches.

READ: 6 LOTO Procedure You Should Follow

Basic Knowledge of Low-Voltage/High-Voltage (LHV/HV)

You should know that low-voltage is 0–600V (low-voltage), while high-voltage is 600V and above (high-voltage). The power lines voltage level can vary in different areas, so you have to be careful when working with them. More importantly, different areas have different rules for safe clearance from power lines.

Because of different power lines voltage levels, different areas also have different rules for safe clearance from power lines. Generally speaking, a two-times safety buffer is required for low-voltage and high-voltage power lines.

The local power distribution network operator should be able to tell you if any power lines or power distribution centers need to be considered in your job and how close you can get. You should follow their advice carefully. Generally speaking, a two-times safety buffer is required for low-voltage and high-voltage power lines.


Tips and Tricks About Low-Voltage/High-Voltage (LHV/HV) In Everyday Life

There are a lot of people asking how to identify voltage of power lines, with or without meters. We are going to provide some tips and tricks to help you do so safely. Whether you are just curious about how much danger you can be in during your next camping trip or for that matter if you need to protect an HV power line from encroachment, it is important that these simple but vital tricks are known by many. Even now knowing them might save your life or someone else’s one day!

The first tip to understanding how to identify low voltage vs high voltage is that at 120V and below, it is perfectly safe to approach power lines (be they overhead or buried) without a personal safety distance, provided you have insulated yourself. This is because current at these levels ca not even penetrate your skin or cause any damage.

Power Lines Voltages

Most power lines in North America are at 115 kV, but 230 kV is also common. The voltage level of a line can be determined by observing how far off-center a supporting tower is from adjacent structures. For example, if two towers are spaced on average about 50 feet apart and one tower leans to one side or appears lower than its companion, then 115 kV power travels through that line.

If a line leans in one direction, you can be sure it is a two-phase line. Two-phase lines can carry 60 kV on one phase and 115 kV on the other phase. The total voltage of a two-phase line equals 230 kV (230 kilovolts). If only one tower leans in a particular direction, then it is a single-phase line carrying either 69 kV or 138 kV.

READ: PAT Testing (Portable appliance testing) – All You Need To Know

There are times when a line that leans in one direction is carrying 69 kV, not 115 kV. A leaning tower with two phases has a total voltage of 138 kV (138 kilovolts). A leaning single-phase tower could be carrying either 69 or 138 kV. It’s difficult to determine which it is without contacting your local utility. Your best strategy is to assume that both kinds of towers carry 230 kV and work from there.

In most cases, powerlines with towers that lean in opposite directions carry 138 kV. They could carry 69 kV on one phase and 138 kV on the other phase, but they are more likely to carry 138 kV in both phases. If you are unsure which it is, assume it carries 230 kV and work from there.

READ: 7 Ways Of Preventing Electric Shock

High Voltage Power Lines

When high voltage power lines cross over public roads or areas where humans or animals might be found, it is important to ensure that a sufficient level of safe clearance has been met. This clearance must be between 20 and 200 feet above ground level depending on which state you live in. It is best to hire an expert when calculating such levels of distance.

Here are some tips to identify high voltage power lines and safe clearance levels:

First, look for any signs of wire crossings near your home. If you see a sign that says High Voltage or Warning: High Voltage it is best to call an expert before proceeding with any further investigation.

Second, you can use a laser level to ensure that there is enough distance between you and the wires. Third, if you have access to a drone or helicopter it would be best to use one of these methods as they will provide an aerial view of what is above ground level from above.

If you are planning on building a home or other structure within 200 feet of high voltage power lines, it is best to hire an expert to do so safely. Such experts will have all of the necessary safety measures in place. They will also know how to apply for special exceptions with your state’s agency that oversees electric power lines.

It is not safe to do so on your own. If you see anything or anyone that violates safe clearance measures, you should report it immediately.


How To Identify Voltage Of Power Lines


There are generally two types of power lines that you may encounter – overhead lines and underground. Each presents different safety hazards. The first step in learning how to identify voltage levels is identifying which type of line you are looking at and whether it is above or below ground. If you come across a line and aren’t sure if it’s a power line, do not assume it is not!

In addition to identifying whether a line is overhead or underground, you need to know which voltage level it carries. You can determine voltage by reading one of two ways: by using your eyes and looking at markings on poles and lines, or by using an electrical meter.

If you are able to read markings on poles and lines, they will usually be in increments of kilovolts (kV) followed by amps (A). The higher the kV number, the higher the voltage level. If there are no markings on poles and lines, use an electrical meter to determine what your power line’s voltage level is.

For overhead lines, if you come across a line that does not have any markings or labels, assume it carries a high voltage level. For underground power lines, assume it carries a medium voltage level unless otherwise marked.

If you are working with underground power lines, always wear rubber-soled shoes when digging near them so that if there is contact with electricity running through them, it will travel through your body instead of through soil or water which could result in damage to property or injury to others nearby.

READ: GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Electrical Safety Concept

After identifying voltage level, you need to determine safe clearance distances. The general rule of thumb is that for overhead lines, you should maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from their poles and 25 feet from their wires. For underground powerlines, you should maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from them.


Safe Clearance From Power Lines

In order to ensure that electricity service is safe, electric companies follow strict rules regarding power lines. These rules state that no person or object should be within 30 feet of a power line. All trees and bushes must be at least 60 feet away from power lines, except for those trees and bushes used as a barrier to prevent wires from coming into contact with objects or people. When it comes to powerlines, safety cannot be compromised.

In order to maintain safety standards and avoid power outages, electric companies must follow strict rules. First of all, they will never install power lines in trees or any other place where they can come into contact with anything else. Secondly, power companies will not cross over each other’s lines if at all possible. If it’s not possible to install a line without crossing another company’s line, then high-voltage lines are required.


Read More On Electrical Safety

READ Also: OHS Meaning – What is Occupational Health And Safety (OHS)?


External Resource