'If you look at a monstrosity long enough, you get accustomed to the sight.' The phrase best describes overhead power cables and is one reason electricity companies adopted underground power line installations. Other than improving aesthetics in congested areas, underground power installations are also low maintenance and safe. That said, power companies have improved underground cable technologies over the years for better service delivery, particularly in high-load areas. This article highlights the top trends in underground power line installations.
Precise Fault Locating
One advantage with overhead cables is that power installation companies can quickly locate fault areas because the wires are visible. However, fault location has been a significant problem with underground installations for service providers. Unfortunately, the absence of reliable technology had proven costly for power companies since they had to excavate large sections of land to locate a fault in underground cables.
However, thanks to time domain reflectometry (TDR) devices, it is no longer the case today. A TDR device sends electric pulses into an underground power line and records the time it takes for the signals to be reflected and the signal strength. The best part is that a TDR can locate the precise location of shots, splits, load coils, insulation damage, cuts, and many other faults in underground power cables. Therefore, the technology saves significant amounts of time and resources.
Galvanised Metal Conduits
When installing underground power cables in congested areas, such as residential neighbourhoods and busy highways, it is essential to keep disruptions at a minimum. However, power companies couldn't achieve maximum uptime a few decades ago. For example, they had to bury PVC conduits deep into the ground to protect them from damages imposed by traffic and human activities. Notably, the process took a long time, affecting normal operations in busy neighbourhoods and roads. Galvanised metal conduits have made things easier for power companies since cabling can be buried as shallow as 6 inches from the ground surface. It means that less time is spent during installations, translating to fewer disruptions.
Early versions of underground power installations featured partially buried transformer housings. However, it required expensive excavation and waterproofing during installation. Moreover, connecting additional conduits to an existing underground system was challenging. Aboveground transformers and surface-mounted transformers have significantly lowered the installation costs of underground power cables. Furthermore, they have made underground power system control panels accessible, making it easy to add new or replacement lines to an existing utility.
Talk to an electrician to learn more about power installation.