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Fiberglass Crossarms as the Wood Alternative: More than the Simple Reasons

Posted by Terry Shank on June 05, 2020

Utility poles and crossarms are often made from traditional materials such as wood. Many utility companies use these poles and crossarms due to their low initial cost. However, maintenance of these poles and crossarms poses challenges for electrical and utility companies. 

Compared to wood, Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer (FRP) does not rot or degrade over time.  FRP crossarms are lighter, more reliable, and provide a much longer service life. Most utilities find that fiberglass crossarms offer the lowest installed cost over time because two wood crossarms can be replaced with a single fiberglass deadend crossarm or fiberglass tangent crossarm.

Removed Cross Arm

Nature wears away at wooden crossarms. Damage to crossarms can be caused by insects, birds, climates, and extreme weather conditions. This deterioration can be rapid and lead to yearly replacements for utility companies.

Beyond the simple FRP versus wood comparison, fire resistance is becoming essential for using FRP for crossarm. Utilities in many regions of the country have seen an increase in crossarm fires. This is due to chemical buildup on the wood. The chemicals are from multiple occurrences. In snow regions, traffic on road salt sends chlorides into the air, which deposit on crossarms. 

Some contaminants, such as salt, air pollutants, and dust, become residual on insulators after rains and high humidity. The contaminates can create an electrical path where tracking (small arcs to attachment bolts) occurs. This spark can ignite the dry wood and cause the metal fixtures to heat up, producing a pole top fire.

Contaminants

After seeing an increase in pole failures due to deterioration and an increase in dangerous pole fires, many electric companies and utility companies are looking to use fiberglass for their poles and crossarms to reduce the risk of pole top fires and short term damages.

In addition to providing high strength to weight ratio, fiberglass crossarms also provide improved electrical insulation. Fiberglass crossarms are suited for all climates, particularly areas where fires tend to occur.

Our Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer (FRP) STORM STRONG® crossarms are RUS approved and have been engineered to meet the requirements of the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and to increase grid reliability. The published values have been developed and thoroughly evaluated per the requirements of ASTM D8019-15.

Terry Shank

AboutTerry Shank

Terry Shank is the utility sales manager. Terry works with utility companies to create an improved and longer-lasting solution to address their issues and concerns with their current product materials. He spends his time with electric companies and co-ops to make sure the best quality solution is provided for increased grid strength.

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