When choosing between underground cables or overhead power lines, it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages so you can better make an educated decision. Between the two, overhead electrical cables are more common and with good reason. Although some may consider them as an eyesore particularly in urban areas, in terms of cost they are three to four times less than an underground infrastructure.
Underground cabling may require additional insulation and cooling because the wires can overheat otherwise. Also, the wires will go the longer possible route between two lines, unlike overhead cables where the wires will just however above houses and buildings. When burying the wires in rocky areas for example, you need to clear the location with sharp and large boulders and fill it with soil to avoid damaging the cable. The reason it is quite expensive is because you need to install cable jointing structures every 500 meters as well as the extra insulation.
As already stated, electrical wires emit heat so they have to be kept away from marshes, bogs and the drainage. You also have to go around deeply rooted plants or buildings with deep foundations. It’s also not known if there’s an effect to the soil if the plastic sheathing on the cable wires have decomposed. Not to say that it’s not doable, however, as Singapore’s cable system is 100% underground.
In contrast, overhead cables are very easy to maintain although the visual cacophony can be a challenge for urban areas. In an era where terrorism is a very real threat, conspicuous transformers and wires are very vulnerable to sabotage. The wires are also vulnerable to low-flying crafts or wayward birds, aside from external obstructions like extreme weather conditions which will cause shrinkage and stretching on the cables, snow which can accumulate on the wires, bush fires, and clearance or permit issues. A truck that smashes into the pole and damages it will also place undue stress to the transmission lines.
Government and states are advised to employ professional electrical reticulation services in order to minimise the risks. These companies specialising in overhead and underground electrification networks have a long experience in installing safety mechanisms to ensure that the system is insulated from unnecessary risks.
Shift to underground system
Because of the aforementioned risks of overhead cables, governments are seeing the advantages of choosing underground cable. Examples of countries using the underground system are The Netherlands, Berlin, London, Belgium and Singapore. France are also going in that direction, particularly after noting that in the year 2000, there were no deaths associated with underground wiring compared to the 19 deaths after getting into contact with overhead power lines
Underground cables are touted for their reliability and the cost of maintenance now is greatly decreased because of the available diagnostics so you can isolate the problem and you don’t have to dig through a large area. There are also few faults compared to the overhead system. Whether you need overhead cables or underground wiring, companies offering electrical reticulation services can meet your requirements.