Do you have a metal, box-shaped transformer near your yard? While it may be tempting to paint it to match your home or to enhance it with artistic flair, do not decorate, paint or landscape near the box, called a padmount transformer or pad-mounted transformer.
The neighborhood metal transformer covers are assigned a specific color (usually green, sometimes grey) so that utility workers can easily identify them. Also, hampering with the box by painting it could impair the lock, the equipment itself or cover the warning signs. For safety, the padmount transformer should always be locked and the warning signs visible.
Padmount transformers, which are typically installed on easements, are an essential part of the supply chain that provides power to neighborhoods with underground utilities. Their purpose is to step down high-voltage electricity to a lower voltage needed for the underground wires that supply power to the lights and appliances in homes. We must be able to access them at all times in case of a power outage or to perform routine maintenance. In other words, they are very important and due to their high voltage and function, they should be revered.
By respecting all utility equipment, including neighborhood transformers, you can help keep the power on and your local utility workers safe. Also alert children that they should not sit on, open, or play around the green boxes. Other safety tips include:
- Do not plant shrubs and trees too close to transformers, especially on the side that is padlocked. Limiting or restricting access to the box could delay restoration work during an outage and create a serious safety hazard. Most utilities need at least 10 feet of clearance in front of the transformer (the side that is padlocked), as well as four feet clearance on the other three sides. Contact us with questions about landscaping around or installing fencing near a padmount transformer (or any other changes) to learn what is allowable.
- Contact us if the transformer becomes unlocked or if it appears to be damaged.
- Call 8-1-1 prior to digging around a transformer (or anywhere in your yard) and respect the clearance requirements. If you dig in the area surrounding the transformer (even if it is beyond the clearance requirements), you could inadvertently hit an underground cable.
- Keep a clear path to the transformer. Even though the transformer seems like it’s in “your yard,” it is technically on an easement, and utility company workers need clear access to it.
- Contact us with any questions or concerns about padmount transformers.
For more about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.