Service Feeders – Overhead Utility Lines vs Underground Utility Lines

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Underground Utilities Contractor Bay Area

Service Feeders – Overhead Utility Lines vs Underground Utility Lines

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Since the introduction of electric power transmission lines in 1889, overhead utilities have been the standard for all types of services. Electricity, phone, cable, and internet are all pumped into residential and commercial buildings via utility poles. But with the advent of underground digging and trenchless technology, utility companies and municipalities have begun to see the advantages of underground power. While both have their advantages, underground utility and power lines are quickly becoming the gold standard in the industry.

Overhead Utilities

Overhead utility lines are service feeders strung atop large poles. Measuring 30- to 60-feet in height, buried 6 feet below the surface, and made of wood, these poles are manufactured to withstand severe weather and inadvertent collisions from automobiles.

Feeder wires from these utility poles are then connected to your home through masts on the roof or the side of your home. Because these feeder wires are suspended in the air, they don’t interfere with anything on the ground. However, they are vulnerable to ice, falling tree limbs, and other inclement weather because of their exposure to the elements.

Underground Utilies

The service provider still uses utility poles to run underground utility lines, but instead of suspending them above ground, they run a pipe underground. Workers then push feeder wire through these underground pipes and into a transformer, which acts as an intermediary between the power source and your home. The feeder lines are installed into one side of the transformer, while the other side features cables that connect to your electric meter and circuit breaker.

Unlike overhead utility lines, underground utility lines aren’t exposed to weather that can cause severe damage. Utility companies also clearly mark these lines so that homeowners or construction crews don’t accidentally damage them when running trenches for other utilities, digging water fixtures, or landscaping. The result is a cleaner look and a reduced chance of damage that can take days or weeks to fix.

Advantages of Underground Utility Lines

Aside from less exposure to weather, underground utility lines have numerous other advantages. Underground power lines have extended reach due to less voltage drop. Voltage drop is a decrease in electrical potential, which is lessened by underground power lines because of lower reactance, or the impedance of a circuit.

Although overhead utility lines are more affordable to install — by many estimates, up to 80% cheaper — underground utility lines offset this through lower maintenance costs. With little repair work needed during heavy storms and no extraneous costs such as tree trimming, underground utilities often pay for themselves within a few years.

Transitioning from Overhead to Underground Service Feeders

In densely populated areas and new subdivisions, many builders and municipalities are turning to underground service feeders or transitioning from overhead to underhead. This minimally invasive service only requires workers to dig a small hole near the home and one near the utility pull. Using a trenchless boring machine, they can run the utility lines from the service pole to the home in just a few hours.

With so many advantages over overhead service feeders, underground service feeders are the next wave in how utility companies and local governments power homes. No other type of installation process offers streamlined service that protects the curb appeal of homes and their ability to get the power they need.

Express Plumbing a division of EPS Inc. has been servicing municipalities, industrial, commercial, and the residential sector in the Bay Area for multiple decades. We specialize in planning and executing civil engineering projects including underground utility lines.


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