The Importance of Substation Design

view of substation

Preserving power for the individuals and communities dependent upon it is critical to life, health, and safety. An integral part of accomplishing this objective comes in the form of proper substation design and protection from squirrel and critter damage. Answering a series of questions allows us to identify how substation design affects those who depend upon it.

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What Are Transformer Ratings?

transformer delivering electricity

There are many factors that determine the lifespan of a transformer and its ability to efficiently deliver electricity to its customers. The quality of the product, as well as the standard of care given to the transformer, will both affect whether a transformer will produce expected results or if it will have to be replaced earlier than expected, leading to increased costs to the customer. Proper maintenance, compliance with transformer ratings, and protection from outside elements, including from squirrel and rodent damage, are all important parts of ensuring you get the maximum lifespan out of a transformer.

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Monitoring Electricity with Smart Meters

smart meter

Smart devices and the Internet of Things have been popular the past few years, but how does a smart meter differ from the older-style meters still in use in most places? A smart meter is a digital device without any moving parts that records electric energy consumption just like an older-style meter; however, it communicates monitoring and billing information directly to the electric utility company. Smart meters record energy consumption hourly, if not more frequently, and typically send daily reports that can be very helpful in locating the source of problems, such as a blown transformer or damaged components by critters. Additionally, smart meters allow two-way communication between the meter and the central utility company system. Collectively, the meter and system are referred to as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). The meter communicates either wirelessly or via a fixed-wire connection.

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Transmission Lines in Transmission Systems

power cables at sunset

Power companies must consider a lot to ensure the successful, consistent operation of an electrical grid, and transmission lines are just one part of that system. Power transmission lines are used for electricity to be transported from generation sources (such as wind or solar farms, coal, or natural gas power plants) to its destination (like your home or business). They must meet technical specifications that obey the laws of physics as well as deal with what nature throws at them, whether it be lightning strikes or critters bent on chewing through that wire. Various strategies can be implemented to minimize such risks to service continuity, but why are components, specifically transmission lines, so important?

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What to Do with Substation Fires

electrical power substation

Substation fires can be among the most intimidating destructive forces, and there are a number of ways they can get started, depending on the equipment used. The fires are commonly caused by hazards such as a mechanical failure combined with a combustible source, water getting into the system, or even an insulation failure. Many times, squirrels, rodents, raccoons, and other critters are culprits in damage, when they climb into substation plants via unprotected electrical lines and utility poles. These fires are exceptionally dangerous because of their potential for explosions, due in part to leaking oil that causes hazardous smoke. There can also be loose wires that aren't insulated, which could cause shock or electrocution. So, what actions should someone take should they encounter a substation fire?

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How Drones Are Helping Power Utility Companies

quadcopter drone in flight

Keeping squirrels and rodents from damaging your power lines is a top priority for Critter Guard, but these pests are not the only thing to worry about when it comes to keeping the power on. Heavy rainfall, high-speed winds, and debris caused by major weather events can also wreak havoc on a power system. Maintaining the grid calls for regular inspection of potentially damaged equipment to ensure its continued integrity. In recent years, drones have become a safe and cost-effective way of inspecting the grid.

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Wildlife Interaction with Electric Utility Components

squirrel on power line

Human-wildlife interactions are inescapable, even in dense, urban areas. As our populations expand, animals must adapt, which sometimes causes expensive or dangerous damage to property. Power lines and utility components showcase a major conflict; they're crucial for maintaining our modern lifestyle but are attractive to wildlife like squirrels. Rather than turning to traps or poison that are inhumane and dangerous to pets and non-pest wildlife, physical barriers are extremely effective at blocking wildlife access to electrical components. Our Pole Guards and Line Guards act as deterrents and prevent costly damage.

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Why Are Power Lines Overhead and Not Underground?

eletrical lines and pylon trusses at sunrise

Most people have probably stopped noticing overhead power lines a long time ago; they just feel part of the landscape now. But have you ever wondered why our power lines are up there in the first place? Sure, they're out of the way, but the same would be true if we put them in underground conduits, so why do we still send them skywards?

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What is Undergrounding?

underground utility line construction in middle of street

When you think of electric power lines, you probably envision overhead lines. Held up by utility poles, they're such a part of your life that you probably don't notice them until one goes down. However, while overhead lines get the job done, there areas of improvement to see our power delivered, not from above, but from below ground. This process of burying power lines is called undergrounding. While it is not the norm now, it is becoming more common.

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Protect Your Roofing Insulation from Rodents

3 small houses close together with electric line

The insulation for your roof system is generally found in the attic area or crawl space beneath the roof. Several different types of insulation materials are available to hold in the heat and cooled air from your heating ventilation and air conditioning system. Your pipes may also be wrapped with insulating materials, and various types of insulation can also be found in your walls.

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How Do Squirrels Survive Winter Without Hibernating

squirrel on snowy ground next to tree trunk

When the weather starts to get crisp in the fall, you might notice local squirrels start putting on some pounds. This "fattening up" for winter reminds many people of what bears do as they prepare for hibernation. While tree squirrels have a few behaviors that help them survive winter, they don't actually hibernate. You'll see them running around in all seasons, so it's crucial to be wary of them and protect anything they may claw and damage year-round.

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How Do Transmission Lines Work?

transmission lines strung between utility poles and electric pylon trusses

Transmission lines are a vital component in the modern electric system. But what are these lines? How do they work? And what measures help ensure they keep working? The Critter Guard team works with transmission lines every day, with intelligently-designed line- and pole-protecting systems to help prevent rodent damage to the lines, which can cause power outages. We know these lines are crucial and to not overlook them until it's too late.

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Measure the Cost of Electricity

hand plugging in power cables into surge protector

Have you ever been baffled by the charges on your electric bill? Understanding utility bills is not something that many people are required to understand; however, a working knowledge of how it is measured may help you to figure out your electric bill better and could help you lower your electric costs over time. All it takes is a little of time to learn the basics of electricity. Learn how electricity is measured, charged, and how a power outage can affect your bill. 

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Pick the Right Surge Protector for Your Electronics

close-up of surge protector with computer outlet indicator

When everything is going right, all power is on, and no electric lines are tampered from meddling squirrels, electricity can flow and power your electrical devices. Your electronics are important to you, so protect them with a good surge protector. When it comes to buying a surge protector, here are some things you should know.

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Laws Preventing Power Shutdowns

pen sitting next to signature line of document

A power outage is often unexpected, especially from power lines suddenly snapping in winter storms, substation damage in icy conditions, or power equipment damaged from rogue rodents chewing or clawing through. These power failures are problematic. In the winter months when the temperatures can be fatally freezing, there are thankfully some state laws that prevent companies from shutting down power until temperatures reach a livable range without electricity. Also, many of these states have laws that protect those who have medical conditions, provided proper documentation has been filed with their electric company. Additionally, most states have a law with specific conditions and regulations within their state that prevents companies from shutting down power for people's safety. These are some examples:

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Crucial Role and Protection of Substations

substation unit in daytime

Throughout the nation, local electric companies have substations positioned throughout their service areas. An electrical substation is a group of electrical equipment within an electrical network that safely delivers electricity to customers within a given area. Key components found in a substation include electrical power transformers, instrument transformers, busbars, and other components. These key components are essential for maintaining and delivering electricity to customers linked to the substation. They are easily damaged though, especially from clawing, chewing squirrels, so it is important to protect them and keep critters at bay.

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Your Emergency Plan for a Winter Power Outage

mug on windowsill on icy winter day

There are many reasons why you might experience a power outage in the winter, from heavily iced lines to frantic squirrels and rodents running about looking to stay warm. Either way, you must know what to do and be prepared to handle a power failure! An outage any time of the year isn't nearly as dangerous as it is during the winter. While you might experience the loss of some refrigerated or frozen foods any other time of year, the wintertime presents you with another problem: staying warm.

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Predicting Power Outages Using a "Squirrel" Method?

electrical line truss in evening

Squirrels: those cute, little furry critters! Some say they're adorable, but they can wreak havoc on power grids by damaging and chewing through electrical wires. These creatures, along with many other potential causes of power outages, were the points of focus in a three-year study done at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Researchers designed an algorithm to predict causes of major long-term blackouts and possible catastrophic shutdowns of utility companies. The name of this study? "Squirrel"!

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Protect Different Types of Building Insulation

wall insulation around window frame

Insulation is used in building homes and commercial spaces to maintain comfort and protect building material integrity. They are key to building structures, but they are susceptible to damage, like from critters and rodents. Insulation is found in the ceiling of your attic, the attic floor, and in the walls of the structure. Additionally, insulation may be used on fixtures, like extra pipe wrap insulation may be used around water pipes and heating ducts. Insulation must resist heat flow, which is measured with an R-value. The higher the R-value, the higher the resistance, making a more effective insulation.

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Dangers of Power Lines

lightning across dark blue sky above home, tree, fence, and power lines

While many power lines now sit below ground, those above still pose significant risks. Not only are power lines susceptible to critters, like squirrels, causing outages that leave you powerless, but they are also dangerous. While Critter Guard systems can prevent power outages that impact your home or business, awareness and caution will help you avoid the dangers of power lines.

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