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What is Conductor Slapping and its 3 Risks Worth Mitigating

First off - What is Conductor Slapping?


As the name suggests, conductor slapping is when line conductors come into contact with each other. Conductor slapping is a phenomenon that creates a high-energy arc and the potential for hot metal particles to be ejected upon contact. This can occur from improper installation and high winds, or from a magnetic field being formed from the fault currents that causes them to swing.


This issue is a result of the combination of the fault current, fault duration, phase spacings, span lengths, and conductor sag. Spans that are susceptible to slapping typically experience it repetitively, but can often go long periods between slaps - thus making it difficult to identify or rectify.


Now that we know what conductor slapping is, let’s look at the 3 main risks that it poses to utilities, their customers, and their surrounding environment.


3 Risks of Conductor Slapping


1. Risk of Wildfire Ignition


As the slapping of conductors can often result in sparking, it poses a risk of igniting the asset’s surroundings and causing widespread fires. Although dry conditions and vegetation encroachment can affect this risk considerably, conductor slapping has been suspected cause of several serious wildfires from Australia to the USA in the past few years.


Wildfires not only pose an incredible threat to local communities and the natural landscape surrounding the network - but also to the network itself. Considering this, doing everything to identify and mitigate the risk of conductor slapping and ignition should always be a priority for utilities, especially those in wildfire-prone regions.


2. Risk of Power Interruptions or Outages


Conductor slapping is a generally recurring incident that typically causes an interruption, or even potentially a longer outage, for the customers using the network. This brings risks to the safety of customers, as well as risking economic loss for both customer and utility.


As the issue is often difficult to identify, conductor slapping can be a recurring frustration or risk to customers. The cost of these outages, alongside the deployment of emergency repairs, can be extreme.


3. Risk of Asset Damage or Failure


The energy arcs and recurring nature of this issue mean that, over time, conductors slapping together will cause the conductors to become damaged. In extreme cases, conductors can even break, causing extensive issues within the network and preventing power supply to customers altogether.


These risks are able to be mitigated and their consequences avoided when utilities make identifying conductor slapping a priority. By safeguarding against conductor slapping and these risks, the safe and continuous flow of power can be ensured for all.



To learn about the method that Power Lines Pro has developed to identify and address conductor slapping, see contact us to learn more: info@powerlinespro.com

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