The big, green box

Transformer with Flowers

Never let anything grow closer than 10 feet from a pad-mount transformer. This is an example of what NOT to do!

They’re big. They’re often green. They generally sit on concrete, often within housing developments. Some folks don’t like these “electrical boxes” (a common nickname for pad-mount transformers) and try to hide them with bushes, fences, or flower beds. But stay clear: even small additions around pad-mount transformers create hazards.

To improve aesthetics of new neighborhoods, developers often put in underground power lines. While this eliminates utility poles and overhead wires, it requires installing pad-mount transformers in some front yards. Unfortunately some homeowners, concerned about curb appeal, attempt to screen pad-mount transformers from view—creating an unsafe situation for all concerned, including Cass County Electric Cooperative (CCEC) lineworkers.

CCEC recommends leaving at least 10 feet of clear space in front of pad-mount transformers. Linemen repair units while they are energized so homeowners don’t experience an interruption in service. To ensure safety, they use an 8-foot fiberglass hot stick that requires about 10 feet of “elbow room” in front of the access panel.

In some cases, consumers may leave plenty of space in front of the transformer, but grow vegetation on the other three sides. This invites other problems. For example, plant roots can interfere with its operation. Overheating is another big concern that can cause service interruptions when air circulation is compromised.

Pad-mount transformers surrounded by vegetation or a structure may overheat and cause service interruptions when the air circulation around them is compromised. Allow at least three to four feet of space on both sides and behind the transformer.

Members should also be aware that plantings along rights-of-way—strips of land owned by a member on which the co-op places poles, wires, and other equipment like pad-mount transformers—could be damaged by co-op vehicles.

Call before you dig!

Because underground service continues from the transformer to your home, you should never dig anywhere in your yard without first calling 811 to find out where cables are buried. Remember to call 48 hours prior to digging.

Quick Tips

• Never let anything grow closer than 10 feet from a pad-mount transformer. (The access panel is marked by a handle, lock, and sticker on the front.)

• Never enclose a pad-mount transformer with fencing, shrubs, or anything else with less than a 10-foot-wide gate or opening.

• Never allow children to play near pad-mount transformers.

• Never pour waste oils, chemicals, or other liquids on or near a pad-mount transformer. These liquids can seep into the ground and damage underground cables.

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