How wooden transmission poles help deliver infrastructure in South Africa


In South Africa, transmission poles are designed to support overhead public utilities such as for telecommunications or powerlines. Many will recognise the classic wooden transmission poles that might dot city centres or suburbs, which carry the supply of electricity from generation to municipalities across the country.

What are transmission poles, really?

Transmission poles generally range from a height of 8m to 13m tall, and may be easily recognised by the fact that necessary equipment for their use may be mounted at the top of the pole.

While transmission poles can be constructed out of wood, concrete, steel, and fibre-reinforced composite, traditional wooden poles provide optimum flexibility during their installation and offer a wider range of options when considering the placement of necessary hardware and cabling.

Are wooden transmission poles treated or painted?

Given the varying climates throughout different regions in South Africa, wooden transmission poles need to be treated to certain standards. Most notably, transmission poles are required to either be treated using creosote or CCA, which hinders pests, improves the longevity of the timber pole in heat or if exposed to moisture, and is flame-retardent.

Does Eskom use wooden poles to provide power?

Eskom relies on networks of transmission poles to relay power to municipalities, and relies on four official suppliers who can provide treated timber. The R&B Timber Group, one of these four suppliers, relies on treatment plants that are situated in close proximity to Durban Port. R&B Timber Group produces treated timber products and specialises in creosote and CCA treatments.

What other services rely on wooden transmission poles?

It is thanks to the use of wooden transmission poles that not only is electric current delivered throughout South Africa, but also that modern telecommunications standards can be installed.

Notably, many local fiber internet providers have opted to install fiber optic lines overground along wooden transmission poles given the ease of access to networking equipment and the fact that this method of installation obviates the need to trench underground, which can potentially lead to legal disputes.

The benefit of using treated wooden poles ensures that installers are able to easily drill holes to fit their exact needs and can use apparatus and utilities such as fasteners to support necessary equipment. This means that infrastructure providers can more rapidly repair or replace equipment as they need to.

Wooden transmission poles lead the way to deliver vital services

As the South African economy grows and local communities expand or move towards established municipalities, treated transmission poles are proving vital to enhance the delivery of services throughout the country. As networking and electrical requirements develop, treated timber is pioneering a delivery solution ideal for South African climates.


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