Town of Frederick News

Posted on: February 28, 2018

Tips for Planting Near Transformers

transformer planting good and bad examples

As a homeowner, you might have seen those green metal boxes located near a house, and realize they have something to do with electrical service. About the size of a dog house, these boxes are called pad-mounted transformers and they’re a key part of the underground electrical system that delivers high voltage power to your home. The purpose of these transformers is to take high voltage electricity supplied by Frederick Power & Light, and convert or “transform” it into lower voltage power that can be safely used by homes and businesses. Pad-mounted transformers are only found where electric service is buried underground, rather than supplied from overhead lines and poles.

Planting shrubs around these transformer boxes, or blocking their access in any way creates a hazard for your power supplier. Just as blocking a fire hydrant is a safety violation, anything that obstructs access to a transformer creates a similar hazard. In the event of an electrical emergency, utility crews need quick access to unlock and open the transformer cover. A common example is a house fire, where power must be turned off to allow firefighters to safely enter the home and extinguish the blaze. Any effort and time wasted in removing shrubs, fences or other obstructions around the transformer could result in further loss of property, or even loss of life.

Here are some guidelines to follow if you are thinking about doing landscaping around a pad-mounted transformer on your property:

Always maintain clearance of 10 feet in front of the transformer (the side with the lock) and 4 feet from all other sides. Look for caution stickers on transformers to clarify safety measures and clearance distances.

Never dig beside a transformer or install fences, storage buildings or plantings near them. Utility crews need clear access 24 hours a day to safely perform necessary maintenance or restore power.

Adequate space is needed for air circulation around transformers and other electrical equipment. This allows heat to escape during hot weather and extends the life of the equipment. Excessively high temperatures might eventually cause oil leakage, which could further increase the chance of equipment failure.

When you are doing your next landscaping project, please resist the temptation to “hide” your transformer behind plantings or other obstructions.

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