FRP Repairs and Fabrication Make Residential Power More Reliable
Utility poles have not changed a whole lot over the years in the United States. They are still primarily made from wood, which makes them sustainable and easy to manufacture. They aren’t perfect, however. As reliable as a wooden utility pole can be, it is still made from a substance that breaks down over time and is vulnerable to the elements. Standard electrical poles will sustain damage when they reach the end of their 30-year lifespan and need to be replaced. Maintaining and replacing utility poles is a significant job.
While wooden utility poles are still the norm throughout the United States, there are other options that have proven to be much more useful and reliable, chief among them is fiberglass-reinforced plastic, or FRP. Using fiberglass repairs like FRP wraps and even utility poles fabricated with fiber reinforced plastic can improve reliability and reduce repair frequency and cost.
What is FRP?
Fiberglass-reinforced plastic is a composite material made from a polymer that is reinforced with fibers, think carbon fiber. FRP was first used in utility poles in Maui in the 1960s, but it didn’t become widely used until relatively recently when modern manufacturing technology enabled lower cost FRP utility pole construction and improved techniques for FRP repairs in the field.
What are the Advantages of FRP Over Wooden Utility Poles
The biggest advantage that FRP has over wood is its durability and longevity. While wooden utility poles generally have a lifespan of 30 years, FRP poles and FRP wraps can last as long as 80 years before they need to be replaced. Wooden utility poles are also vulnerable to rot as well as birds and insects that bore into them, something that cannot be said for an FRP pole. FRP is also becoming much cheaper to manufacture, and the poles themselves can be installed quickly and easily. FRP may not have the sustainability of wood, but it really is the next best thing. With time, the FRP manufacturing process will become easy enough that FRP utility poles could become more convenient and cost effective than wood.
If the process of replacing a wooden utility pole with an FRP pole seems like too much unnecessary work, you might be happy to learn that fiberglass repairs using FRP wraps can be used to repair or protect wooden utility poles and provide similar benefits of an FRP pole by protecting the wood pole with a coating of fiber reinforced plastic, particularly around compromised areas of the poles. FRP wraps are easier to manufacture than an entire pole, and they can be used to extend the life of an existing wooden pole by installing an FRP wrap in the field as needed or as a preventative measure.
FRP Repairs and FRP Wraps May Give Way to Full FRP Utility Poles
Even though wooden utility poles still vastly outnumber FRP poles, FRP might still represent the future of our country’s energy grid. As FRP becomes easier and more cost-effective to manufacture, we will almost certainly begin seeing more of it in our utility poles in the future. Picon FRP is a local FRP expert serving the San Francisco Bay Area, if your aging infrastructure needs inspection, repairs, or replacement we can help provide solutions for you including FRP wraps, industrial coatings, tank linings, trailer linings, and much more. Contact us online or by phone at 510-232-0065
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