What is An Electrical Substation?

When you flick a light switch, the light turns on before our eyes can even recognize it. The process itself takes a fraction of a second, but the actual process is far more complicated than meets the eye. Electrical structures like generators, power lines and substations help us to receive electricity at a moment’s notice, any time, anywhere.

You may have a substation in your community or maybe you pass one on your way to work. As you walk or drive by, you might be wondering what exactly that substation does. It definitely does something for your electricity, but what exactly?

Substations play a key role in helping your home receive a safe, consistent energy flow. For more information on how exactly these structures work, keep reading to learn more about substations and how they get electricity to your home.

What is a substation and how does it work?

Electricity doesn’t just show up from nowhere. It has to originate at a generator and travel long distances to make it to your home. The electricity created by the generator isn’t electricity that would power your home efficiently, however. The current may be too low or too high, or it may be unstable and would cause a power surge.

This is where a substation comes into play. The substation serves as a middle man between the generator and your home, working to speed up or slow down the current. High voltages travel fast, while your home needs voltages that are lower. Substations typically include transformers, insulators and circuit breakers to catch any power issues along the way.

There are several types of substations:

  • Step up substations increase the voltage for transmission.  
  • Step down substations decrease the voltage and usually serve as a source to a distribution substation.
  • Distribution substations are the ones located closest to end-users, making the current safe to be used in homes and businesses.

How can I stay safe around substations?

Substations are important for supplying electricity, but can be dangerous to those who are in the community. Under no circumstances should you go near a substation, nor should you allow a child to go free around one. Substations can be tempting for children, with plenty of places to climb and signs that warn them not to enter. If your child enters, one wrong touch could electrocute them and send them to the hospital or worse. Teach your children from a young age about the dangers of electricity, especially if you live near a substation or low hanging power lines.

If a power outage occurs, don’t start investigating your substation by yourself. Call your local electric company and allow them to look into it. If the issue is within your house only, contact an electrician to help you restore power to your home. Tampering with switches and live wires will only lead to disaster.

You may have read about the “dangers” of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that are emitted by substations, with statements claiming that they cause cancers in adults and children. This claim fails to take into consideration the kind of EMFs that are released by substations.

There are two varieties of EMFs:

  • Ionizing. This form of radiation comes from UV light and some x-rays and gamma rays. It has the potential to permanently damage your DNA.
  • Non-ionizing. We encounter non-ionizing radiation every day from cell phones, microwaves, power lines and WiFi. The EMFs emitted from substations fall under this category.

Living near a substation will not endanger your health directly, but direct contact with electricity will.

When you need the service of a trained electrician, reach out to us at Complete Electrical Services.

No matter the size of your project, we can provide the expertise you need to get your electricity operational as soon as possible.