Electrical Connectors for Overhead Lines

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Utility distribution systems utilize a variety of connectors to join and attach overhead conductors. These components are simple and relatively inexpensive; however, due to their critical function and the large number of components utilized in the electrical system, they deserve some consideration from the maintenance perspective.

Factors such as corrosion, improper installation, and manufacturing defects can cause in-service failure of connectors leading to safety risks to lineman crews and the public, and compromising the reliability of the power supply.

Many utilities have experienced this problem and some have made efforts to mitigate the risk. Due to the nature of the connector design, the defects are typically hidden and cannot be detected easily. As a result, blanket replacement sometimes is the only option, which can be inefficient due to the large number of connectors replaced prematurely.

Thus, a need exists for an effective inspection tool that electric utilities can use to provide information on the condition of the connectors currently in service. This tool would allow utilities to plan for the timely replacement of deteriorating connectors, thereby reducing risks and costs in system operation.

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