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Explain the different parameters of Overhead Lines.

Transmission Lines carry power from generating plants to the distribution systems that feed
electricity to domestic, commercial and industrial users. Electricity is normally generated away
from load centers. This is because of environmental and safety reasons. Hydro resources may
be at remote location Transmission lines can be overhead or underground cables.
Electricity is usually sent over long distance through overhead power transmission lines.
Underground power transmission is used only in densely populated areas (such as large cities)
because of the high costs and losses. Most power is transmitted as 50 Hertz (cycles per second)
alternating current (AC) power. AC power readily changed in voltage by transformers and is
easily used in home appliances and motors. Some very specialized transmission uses direct
current (DC) power.
Transmission lines vary from a few kilometers long in an urban environment to over 1000 km
for lines carrying power from remote hydroelectric plants. They may differ greatly in the
amount of power carried. Transmission normally takes place at high voltage.
The following list contains some general records.
• Highest transmission voltage (AC): 1150 kV (Kazakhstan)
• Highest transmission voltage (DC): +/-600 kV (Brazil)
• Longest transmission line: Democratic Republic of Congo (length: 1700km)
• Longest submarine cables Baltic-Cable, Baltic Sea - (length of submarine/underground
cable: 249 km, total length: 261 km)

The definition of the transmission voltage varies from a system to a system.

• In India the highest transmission voltage is 765 kV. But POWERGRID is fully geared up
to develop Transmission Systems with highest transmission voltage of 1200 kV in AC
and + 800kV in DC. As a part of this, POWERGRID is establishing a 1200kV Ultra High
Voltage AC Test Station at Bina (WR).
• In Saudi Arabia the highest transmission voltage is 380 kV.

An Overhead Transmission line is made of conductor, insulators and a tower. An

underground cable is made of conductor, insulation and is buried into ground. The three phase
conductors carry the electric current. Insulators provide support and electrically isolate the
conductors. Tower holds the insulators and conductors. It is firmly grounded with special
foundation and Optional shield and ground conductors protect against lightning.
Main components of overhead lines are:

1. Supports
2. Cross arms & Clamps
3. Insulators

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4. Conductors
5. Guys & Stays
6. Lightining Arrestors
7. Fuses & Isolating Switches
8. Continous Earth Wire
9. Vee Guards
10. Guard Wires
11. Phase Plates
12. Bird Guards
13. Danger Plates
14. Barbed Wires
15. Miscellaneous Items


Tower or Supporting structure is needed to keep conductors at a safe height from the ground. It
should also provides a acceptable distance between phase conductors to avoid arcing. Wood
and concrete poles are used for low voltage lines. High voltage lines use steel towers. The
design and height of the tower depends on many factors: transmission voltage, ground
terrain,atmospheric conditions and environmental constraints.

Figure 1 Transmission Tower

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Cross arms & Clamps

These are either of wood or steel angle section and are used on pole structures to support the
insulators and conductors. The main function of cross arms is to keep the conductors at a safe
distance from each other and from the pole.
Cross arms are of many types such as MS channel or wooden cross arm, U-shaped cross arm,
V-shaped cross arms, zig-zag cross arms.
In order to prevent arcing, the construction of the cross-arms should be such that under worst
conditions, the spacing between conductors, whem swinging would never be less than that
given below :

Working Voltage Spacing

6.6 kV 76 mm
11 kV 101 mm
33 kV 190 mm and so on

Figure 2 Example crossarm construction


Insulators are used to support, anchor and insulate conductors from ground. They are made of
porcelain, glass and several synthetic materials. Electrically, insulators must provide high
resistance to leakage currents and they have to withstand certain voltage without damage.
Mechanically, they must withstand the pull due to the conductor weight.
Suspension type are usually used for high voltage line. A number of insulators usually form a
string between the conductors and the tower cross arms.

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Figure 3 A Typical Transmission Insulator

Types of Insulators :
i. Pin Insulators - This type was amongst the earliest designs, and although it has
improved both electrically and mechanically, it has altered little in appearance. It
provides the most economic, simple and efficient method of conductor support for
voltage up to and including 33kV. Pin type insulators for the lower voltages are
designed so that the puncture voltage is higher than the flashover voltage, however
if the insulator glazing under the conductor is damaged (usually caused by vibration)
the insulator may puncture.
ii. Post Insulators - These insulators are of one piece porcelain construction and have a
cemented on a galvanised malleable cast iron base provided with a taped hole for
fixing stud. It will be apparent that this type of construction renders it almost non-
puncturable and a further advantage is that if any expansion of the cemented base
joint does occur the porcelain is put into compression. If this occurs with the
cemented joint of the screwed lead thimble of the pin type insulator as discussed
above, the porcelain is placed in tension, a type of load, which it has little ability to
withstand, and the porcelain will fail.
iii. Stay Insulators - The stay insulator inserted in the stay wire is usually of porcelain
and is so designed that in the event of failure of the stay insulator the stay wires will
not fall to ground. All stays wires attached to wooden poles supporting active
conductors should be fitted with stay insulators.The insulators should be mounted
not less than 2.7 metres vertically above ground and have a wet power frequency
flashover voltage not less than one and a half times the highest voltage conductor
supported by the pole.
iv. Cap and Pin Type Disc Insulators - These insulators are used at tension positions (ie.
Termination and suspension) in high voltage lines and are available in 70kN and
160kV strengths to suit the various conductor loadings. The cap and pin design
ensures that the porcelain or glass of the high insulator is always in compression. In

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areas of high pollution, particularly costal areas the pin of the insulator should be
fitted with zinc collar.
Insulator Testing - All porcelain insulators taken out of service must be tested before re-
erection. Toughened glass insulators however, need not be tested, since the smallest fault will
cause disintegration of the insulator.


Transmission line conductors are normally made from Aluminum with certain reinforcements.
Copper is not usually at high voltage because of its costs even though it has a very low
resistance. The conductors are made of aluminum strands which are reinforced by another
material. Stranded conductors are simpler to manufacture, easier to handle and more flexible.
The reinforcement, by steel for instance, provides a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Aluminum conductors are classified as follows:
• AAC = All Aluminium Conductor
• ACRS = All Aluminium Conductor Steel Reinforcement
• AAAC = All Aluminium Alloy Conductor
Economically, conductors represent between 20 to 40% of the total cost of a line; consequently
their selection is of prime importance. In earlier days of electrical power transmission, copper
was mainly used as the material of overhead line conductors, however with the expansion of
electricity networks, several factors, such as price, weight, availability and conductivity, have
virtually compelled Overhead Line Design Engineers to concentrate on aluminium based
Steel conductors are still widely used as overhead earth wires and also as phase conductors on
rural distribution lines, eg.
SC/GZ = Galvanised Steel Conductor
SC/AC = Aluminium Clad Steel Conductor

Figure 4 An ACSR conductor

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The conductor is made of 30 Aluminum strands and 7 steel strands. The electric current is
carried by the aluminum strands while the steel strands provide mechanical support. Overhead
line conductors are usually bare without any insulation. Bare conductors have excellent heat
dissipation characteristics.
High voltage lines often may have more than one conductor per phase. This arrangement is
referred to as Bundle- conductor arrangement.

Figure 5 Bundle Conductor arrangements

Bundle conductors have lower electric strength at the surface. This controls the occurrence of
corona. Corona is defined as the ionization of gas around transmission lines. It is manifested by
a hissing sound and in some extreme conditions a glowing light around the conductors.

Guys & Stays

It becomes essential to stay overhead line supports at angle and terminal positions as the pole
takes pull due to conductors. Theoritical angle between pole and stay should be 45° but it is not
possible generally so the minimum angle of 30° is designed between stay and poles.

Lightening Arrestors

A lightning arrester is a device used on electrical power systems to protect the insulation on the
system from the damaging effect of lightning. The typical lightning arrester also known as surge
arrester has a high voltage terminal and a ground terminal. When a lightning surge or switching
surge travels down the power system to the arrester, the current from the surge is diverted
around the protected insulation in most cases to earth.

Figure 6 Lightening Arrestor

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Fuses & Isolating Switches

A fuse interrupts excessive current (blows) so that further damage by overheating or fire is
prevented. Wiring regulations often define a maximum fuse current rating for particular
circuits. Overcurrent protection devices are essential in electrical systems to limit threats to
human life and property damage. Fuses are selected to allow passage of normal current and of
excessive current only for short periods.
Isolator switch is used to make sure that an electrical circuit can be completely de-energized for
service or maintenance. Such switches are often found in electrical distribution and industrial
applications where machinery must have its source of driving power removed for adjustment or
repair. High-voltage isolation switches are used in electrical substations to allow isolation of
apparatus such as circuit breakers and transformers, and transmission lines, for maintenance.

Continous Earth Wire

A continous earth wire is run on the top of the towers to protect the line against the lightening

Vee Guards

These vee guards are provided below the bare overhead lines running along or across public
streets to make the line safe if it breaks

Guard Wires are provided above or below power lines while crossing telephone or telegraph
lines. The guard wires and steel structures are solidly connected to earth.

Phase Plates in order to distinguish the various phases.

Bird Guards

A stick of ebonite with rounded top is fixed near the insulator on the cross arm to prevent flash-
over due to birds pecking on conductors.

Danger Plates

It is provided on each pole indicating the working voltage of the line and the word “Danger” at a
height of 2.5 m from the ground.

Barbed Wire is wrapped on a pole at a height of about 2.5 m from ground for atleast 1 metre
for preventing climbing by unathorised persons.

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Miscellaneous Items

Vibration damper is used to suppress wind-induced vibrations on cables, such as overhead

power lines. The dumbbell-shaped device consists of two masses at the ends of a short length
of cable or flexible rod, which is clamped at its middle to the main cable. The damper is
designed to dissipate the energy of oscillations in the main cable to an acceptable level.

Figure 7 Vibration Damper

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