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Overhead line Design

EE35T - Overhead Line Design and Transmission

Line Construction
The fundamental purpose of a Transmission or Distribution Line is to carry the active power from one
point to another.

A Transmission line should possess the following characteristics:

The voltage should be kept as constant as possible over the entire length of the line.
The line losses must be small so as to obtain a high transmission efficiency
The Copper losses must not overheat the conductor.

Components of a High Voltage Transmission Line

1. Conductors

Conductors are always bare

They are the vital link in the transmission system and distribution system
They must be designed to meet the specified voltage level
The conductor consideration should include the voltage level at which the power is transmitted, the
maximum allowable losses on the line, the maximum thermal capacity of the line, the current carrying
capacity and the tension of the line
Factors which affect the location of the line include the climate of the country, the atmospheric
conditions and vibration of the line

There are several different types of conductors that are used to transmit power and these include:

(i) ACSR - Aluminum Conductor Steel Reinforced. This is the most popular conductor that is used
because of its high strength and relatively low cost. It comprises aluminum strands bound around a steel
core. The most common are 6/1, 26/7, 54/7.

(ii) ACSR/AW - ACSR Conductor with Aluminum clad steel reinforced core. This is very useful in
corrosive environments.

(iii) ACSR/SD - ACSR Conductor that is self damping. It is more expensive than regular ACSR, and
comprises two trapezoidal layers of conductor around a steel core. The strands are made of #6201
Aluminum, and the structure makes them self damping against Aeolian Vibration. They can be strung at
very high tensions.

(iv) ACAR - Aluminum Conductor Alloy Reinforced. This comprises strands of #1350 Aluminum around
a core made of #6201 Aluminum. It is lighter than ACSR, but more expensive and just as strong. It is used in
corrosive environments.

(v) AAC-1350 - Aluminum Conductor made of #1350 Strands. It is used in construction that requires
good conductivity and short spans.

(vi) AAAC-6201 - Conductor composed of #6201 Aluminum Alloy. It is stronger than ACSR, and lighter,
but more expensive. It is used for long spans in corrosive environments.

Some factors to be considered when selecting the transmission line conductors include:

Required sag and span between conductors

Tension on the conductors
Whether or not the atmosphere is corrosive
Whether or not the line is prone to vibration

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Overhead line Design

Power loss allowed on the line

Voltage loss allowed on the line
Climate at the line location

Finally, the size of the conductor has to be considered. Again, several factors are used in determining the
size of the conductor to be used.

Voltage Drop Considerations: The conductor meets the minimum size requirement but transmits the power
with an acceptable loss. It is often expressed as a maximum voltage drop of 5%. The total series impedance
is equal to the maximum allowable voltage drop divided by the maximum load current.


Thermal Capacity: The conductor should be able to carry the maximum long term load current without
overheating. The Conductor is assumed to withstand a temperature of 75 degrees celsius without a decrease
in strength. Above this temperature, the strength decreases.

Economic Considerations: The conductor is rarely sized to meet the minimum requirements. The total cost
per kilometer or mile must be taken into account as too the present worth of energy losses associated with
the conductor. There must also be some compensation for load growth.

2. Insulators
There are two types of insulators: Suspension Type and Pin Type. The function of the insulator is to
support and anchor the insulator. Additionally, they also insulate the conductor from ground and tend to be
made of either glass or porcelain and in some cases, ceramic.

3. Support Structures
These serve the purpose of keeping the conductors at a safe height from ground as well as at an adequate
distance from each other. The construction of the support is dependent on the cost. The cost takes into
account the design and the materials as well as transportation and labour. Galvanised steel self supporting
towers as well as wooden H-frame and K-frame are commonly used. The erection of structures is an
important part of transmission line construction. The method chosen is dependent on:

Access Roads
Experience and Availability of workmen
Allowed time for the completion of project

Additionally, there are several factors that need to be considered when choosing the method of construction.
These include:

What type of structures are to be erected

What are the natural divisions
What are the dimensions of the natural divisions
What are the conditions of access to the right of way
What are the conditions of access along the right of way

The above factors are determined by whether there is the choice to use maximum equipment and
minimum labour or minimum equipment and maximum labour.

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Overhead line Design

Location of Poles and Structures: Poles and Structures have to be located in observance of the right of
way (See Definitions below). The initial step when locating the poles is to establish a plan-profile drawing.
These drawings show a topographical contour map of the terrain along the right of way, and a sideview
profile of the line, showing elevations and towers. The plan profile drawing acts as a worksheet as to what
needs to be done, in dealing with the problems that are posed. They are used to complete the work with
respect to structure spotting.

Structure spotting is a process that determines the height, location and type of consecutive structures on the
plan profile drawing. Structure spotting should closely conform to the design criteria established for the line.
The following steps should be taken when spotting structures:

Establish the plan profile drawing on a fixed scale

Establish the sag template on the same scale as the plan profile drawing
Make a table showing the conductor clearances to ground as well as relative to other overhead lines
Decide on the horizontal and vertical span limitations due to clearance and strength requirements

Towers have to be buried at a certain depth to ensure that they do not collapse. The depth may be from 6
feet up to the height of the tower.

Two types of towers are used:

1. Towers used for straight runs
2. Towers used when bends have to be made in the path of the line (Deviation Towers)

In putting down deviation towers, guyed wires and guyed blocks have to be used to balance the tensile
forces on the tower. When two forces act on a tower (which is usually the tension of the line), a resultant
force is produced. A guyed wire is used to counteract this resultant force so as to prevent the tower from
collapsing. The guyed block is also used, and this is the buried block to which the guyed wire is connected.
The block is usually buried at an angle to negate the resultant force on the line. The above description is
figuratively shown below.

Figure 1. This is the diagrammatic representation of the use of the deviation tower with the Guyed Wire

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Overhead line Design

Figure 2. This is the diagrammatic representation of the use of the Guyed Block

Some Basic Definitions to be familiar with

Right Of Way:

This is the legally granted free space that may be leased or purchased when constructing overhead lines. The
right of way has to take into account the environmental and aesthetic value of the area through which the
line passes. In locating towers and stringing the lines, the electricity commission has to determine the route
of the line. Once this is established, then it is necessary to determine the right of way. In some cases, the
right of way cannot be obtained, and as a result, alternate routes, in which the right of way can be obtained
must be devised. Right of Way must be clear of trees, or any obstructions which may cause the line to fault,
or touch, or even result in the tower collapsing.


Sag is defined as the vertical distance between the point where the line is joined to the tower and the lowest

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Overhead line Design

point on the line.

Figure 3. Diagram showing the definition of sag.

The sag is as a result of the tensioning of the line and must not be too low otherwise the safety clearances
may not be met. Also, the sag had to be such that it caters for ice loading in the winter of temperate
climates. If the sag is large, and the line becomes heavily loaded, then the sag will further increase and
breach the safety clearances. Similarly, if the sag is low, then when the line contracts in the winter, a low sag
will indicate a high tension, and as a result of this contraction, the line may snap. Sag is inversely
proportional to the tension of the line, and is given by the formula below.

For high tensions, the sag should be small.

For low tensions, the sag should be high.

Clearances must also be observed when stringing a line. The normal clearances for overhead lines are shown
in the table below.

Voltage Level Clearance to Ground

less than 66kV 20 feet (6.1m)
66kV to 110kV 21feet (6.4m)
110kV to 165kV 22feet (6.7m)
greater than 165kV 23feet (7.0m)

Span and Ruling Span:

Span is the horizontal distance between two towers. The Ruling Span is defined as the assumed uniform
span that most closely resembles the variety of spans that are in any particula section of the line. The ruling
span is used to calculate sag and clearances on the plan profile drawing, and it is necessary in structure
spotting. When stringing the line, the general rule is that the spans in the line should not be more than twice

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Overhead line Design

the ruling span, or less than half of the ruling span. The approximate relationship for the ruling span is given
by the formula below.

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