Overhead Lines vs. Underground Cables: Comparison Guide

Author: Passey Electric. |

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Most places in the world populated by humans are powered by electricity. And electricity is distributed to different households from the main power system through a system of cables. Now, these cables could either be in plain sight or hidden underground. And each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Overhead Lines

The convenience of overhead power lines is that they are easy to install, and you can see them from a distance.

This makes them highly visible to conductors, which means that they can easily spot them and avoid coming too close to them.

Also, overhead lines are cheaper to construct. They are easier to maintain, and they have a long lifespan. The main disadvantages of overhead lines are that they suffer from wear and tear and bad weather.

Disadvantages of Overhead Lines

There are many threats to overhead lines, especially in areas prone to extreme weather conditions such as earthquakes, strong winds, and heavy rains.

For example, especially in regions where there is heavy snowfall, overhead lines become exposed to extremely cold temperatures, and as a result, they tend to break easily.

Also, overhead lines are highly visible and can also be a safety hazard, especially to children. For example, they could accidentally touch a live wire, which could lead to electrocution or even death.

Advantages of Underground Cables

Underground cables, on the other hand, are hidden from view. This reduces the chance of accidents by restricting the number of people who might accidentally touch the cables.

Also, underground cables are completely immune to the effects of harmful weather conditions, such as high temperatures and heavy snowfall, that can cause overhead lines to break.

This makes them more durable and able to withstand the test of time.

Disadvantages of Underground Cables

Underground cables are more expensive and difficult to install, and they take longer to build and install.

At the same time, they require a lot of excavation work, which can cause a great disruption to traffic and construction work.

Also, they are more expensive, and they are much more difficult to maintain. Some extreme situations, such as earthquakes and flooding, can cause underground cables to break and leak.

It is also difficult to repair underground cables in extreme weather conditions, especially in snow and heavy rainfall.

Overhead Lines vs. Underground Cables

That said, most of the power lines you will see around you are overhead. But it doesn’t mean that underground cables are not in use.

For example, underground power lines are more popular in urban areas, where overhead lines are at risk of getting in the way and disrupting construction and traffic.

Also, underground power lines are used to connect different parts of the same city, especially if the city is spread out over a large area.

Final Thoughts

Both overhead lines and underground cables are important. There are many benefits and disadvantages of each, which means that the decision to use overhead or underground cables should be made based on the specific requirements of the project. 

Get the right cable installation for your project with the help of Passey. We provide complete commercial electrical services in Southern Alberta. Whether it be new construction or maintenance, we have the tools and ability to help you with your needs. Get in touch with us today!