There are plenty of elements that go into powering your building, from your light switches and power outlets to your circuit breaker and wires. But some of the most important aspects of powering your workplace aren’t even in the building. Electricity has to get from the electric company to your workplace somehow. You may be familiar with substations, but what exactly are they, and how do they help keep your workplace powered up? We’ve got your answers.
What is the Function of a Substation?
Essentially, a substation turns the voltage of electricity from high to low (or from low to high) and performs several other tasks before the power gets to your workplace. It’s not uncommon for your electricity to travel through multiple substations and change voltage levels several times before it reaches you.
In addition to simply changing voltage, substations can also measure electric power to keep track of how much electricity their users are consuming. Substations can also protect electrical systems from lightning or other hazards.
In most cases, the local electrical utility company will own and operate a given substation. You may also find substations that are owned by industrial or commercial businesses. Substations are typically built a significant distance from town, as there must be enough land to meet electrical safety standards.
Components of a Substation
Substations are made up of various elements that help get electricity from the source to customers.
First, there are the transformers. These elements will take the high voltages carried by power lines and reduce it to below 10,000V. Once the voltage is low enough, it’s then safe to move on to the distribution system, where the power can then reach your building.
Substations also have switches and circuit breakers, not unlike what you may find in a home or your business. These help to direct the electricity to the proper part of the substation for proper distribution. Without switches, there would be no way to isolate circuits for repair, and without circuit breakers, there’s a greater risk of hazards.
Finally, capacitors are important for substations to operate effectively as well. Capacitors work to smooth out the voltage output, reducing the risk of electrical hazards. With a properly working capacitor, voltage distortions and increased power loads are no longer issues.
Of course, these are just a few of the most important components of substations. But there are plenty of other elements at work to bring power to customers. Some examples include conduits, control wires, grounding resistors, relays, and transmission buses.
Different Types of Substations
There are several different versions of substations you may come across, differing in their materials, structures, and applications.
Perhaps the most common type of substation is a transmission substation, which connects transmission lines. There may be just two transmission lines, or there could be a dozen or more. You may also encounter a distribution substation, which moves power from the transmission system to the distribution system. From there, the power moves to customers. There are also underground distribution substations, which operate in the same way as their above-ground counterparts.
Step-up and step-down substations will raise or lower voltages, respectively, in order for the electricity to be properly transmitted. At a step-up substation, the voltage is increased so that electricity can then be transferred to a far-away location. As you may imagine, step-down substations reduce voltages to move the electricity to a distribution substation, where it then moves to the customer.
Benefits of Being Near a Substation
If your business is located near a substation, you could experience several unique benefits.
First, you’ll find that you’re much less likely to lose power than other businesses located further away from your local substation. Since your building is located right near the power lines, you will experience fewer interferences or supply cuts. Additionally, if your area does experience a power outage, you’re likely to see that your electricity is restored quickly.
If you’re looking to purchase a new building for your business, you may find that properties near substations are more affordable than those in the middle of town. Most homeowners or businessowners choose properties away from substations because of the aesthetics, but if you don’t mind the look, you could save by being located near a substation. You might even get the added benefit of having your land maintained by the power company; if there are trees on your property that are near the substation, the power company may want to perform land maintenance to ensure the trees don’t cause any issues.
You may have heard that working close to power lines can cause health issues. But you can rest assured for you and your employees; there has been no scientific evidence to support the theory that working near a substation causes health issues. You’re also not at increased risk of electrical hazards, since your building will be a safe enough distance away from the substations (according to federal regulations). You won’t need to worry about EMF exposure, either.
Working with MTA
Once electricity passes through a substation and into your business, you’re able to keep up with your daily tasks, serve your customers, and grow your company. But what happens if you do have an electrical issue? If it’s not a problem with your substation, you may want to have an electrical engineer come look at your system and check for any issues. That’s where we come in.
Mark Thomas & Associates Electrical Engineers proudly serve clients throughout Southern California and the West Coast, including San Diego and Los Angeles. No matter how big or small your business is, we’re happy to help ensure your electrical needs are met in an affordable and safe manner. Contact us today for electrical testing, power system analyses, coordination studies, arc flash analyses, and more.