New Transformers

FTLComm - Tisdale - Wednesday, July 24, 2002
It was discovered in the early days when the use of electricity was in its infancy, that the best kind of current was direct current, the only problem was that on a transmission line, direct current lost strength and could not be sent along a line for more than a short distance. However, alternating current was quite a different story. It could be sent down a line for miles without losing strength and if you raised its voltage, a line could carry much more power.

So the electricity that flows through over head or underground cables is stepped up in voltage and then to use it in our homes it must stepped down to 220 volts then split in your homes distribution box to 110 volts.

This system of electrical power is used throughout North America primarily because it is so much safer than what is used in much of the rest of the world where home electrical circuits carry a killing 230 volts. In most cases coming into contact with an open circuit in your home is rarely fatal, but in Europe, death from electrocution is a much more common thing.

The equipment used to step the power down is found in the power distribution yards, but it still has to be brought down to household levels in the small circuits within a town. This process is done with transformers like these seen being replaced behind Randall Automotive.

SaskPower is actually doing two things at once, they are increasing the capacity by adding an additional transformer on the new pole, but they have also raised the power line from its former level. Several accidents, or near accidents, have occurred with this line as it crosses the street South of this location, as tanks and equipment moving from Northern Steel's North plant to the South one, occasionally are taller than the present line. This new taller pole should increase the safety factor.

As this process was proceeding one, of the crew explained that transformers are a regular part of the electrical distribution system. In underground installations the transformers are actually placed slightly below ground level in secured pedestals.

In above ground installations, the transformers are the most vulnerable part of the system as they are frequent targets for lightning strikes and though they can usually be reset after a strike, they sometimes are damaged and have to be replaced.