Essential Tips for Staying Safe Around Pad-Mounted Transformers

Pad-mounted Transformer
Pad-mounted transformers like the one in this photo are essential to providing reliable energy to homes and businesses.

Tampa Electric relies on an extensive array of electrical equipment to deliver 99.98% reliable power to the more than 830,000 customers we serve across West Central Florida. Amidst this complex network, you might have glimpsed a particular but often overlooked component: the unassuming green metal boxes. If your service connection is underground, there's a good chance you have one situated near your home or business. These unobtrusive devices go by the name "pad-mounted transformers," and they play an indispensable role in our electrical distribution infrastructure by efficiently reducing voltage levels for widespread power distribution.

Pad-mounted Transformer Technician
Our crews need to access pad-mounted transformers. Please remove any vegetation that prevents safe access to equipment.

Pad-mounted Transformer Technician
Our crews need to access pad-mounted transformers. Please remove any vegetation that prevents safe access to equipment.

Although these transformers are instrumental in upholding a stable electricity service, they also pose potential safety risks when not handled with care. To ensure the safety of all, we've compiled a list of crucial guidelines that everyone, especially children, should be aware of and follow.

  1. Maintain Distance: When possible, maintain a safe distance from pad-mounted transformers. A general guideline is to stay at least 10 feet away from the equipment to avoid exposure to any hazards. The green box is safely grounded, so it’s safe to occasionally mow and trim vegetation that accumulates around the base of the box.
  2. No Unauthorized Access: Pad-mounted transformers should only be accessed by trained and authorized personnel. Never attempt to open or tamper with the equipment unless you are qualified to do so.
  3. Report an Open or Unlocked Unit: If you come across a transformer with an open, damaged, or absent lock, please contact Tampa Electric at the number listed below. Make sure to prevent anyone else from approaching the transformer until a qualified technician arrives.
  4. Don’t Paint or Cover. The green paint helps electrical workers identify the transformer as having live voltage inside and to use care. Also, the paint could obscure the warning sign and potentially put others at risk.
  5. Keep Clear of Spills: If you notice any oil leaks around a pad-mounted transformer, keep a safe distance and report it. Transformer oil is flammable and can pose a fire hazard.
  6. Avoid Water Contact: Never allow water to come into contact with pad-mounted transformers. Periodically inspect and adjust your lawn sprinklers. Water conducts electricity and can lead to dangerous electrical shocks. If you see water accumulating around the base of a pad-mounted transformer, call Tampa Electric at the number listed below.
  7. Report Strange Noises or Odors: Unusual noises, such as buzzing or humming, or unusual odors around transformers should be reported to Tampa Electric. These signs could indicate a malfunction or potential hazard.
  8. Stay Clear During Maintenance: If you see maintenance personnel working on a pad-mounted transformer, respect their workspace and maintain a safe distance. Even if you're familiar with the equipment, it's best to let the professionals handle it safely.
  9. Never Dig or Plant Nearby: Underground wires from a transformer could stretch in any direction. Hitting one of these wires with a shovel could cause electrocution. If you do need to dig anywhere in your yard, call 811 first. They will tell you where it is safe to dig in your yard and where it isn’t.

You’ve learned that pad-mounted transformers are integral to our electrical infrastructure, but they require a respectful and cautious approach to ensure your safety and the safety of our team members. By following these tips, you can contribute to a safer environment while benefiting from the consistent and reliable power supply that these transformers provide. Remember, electrical safety is everyone's responsibility. If you have a safety concern regarding a pad-mounted transformer, please call Tampa Electric at 813-223-0800. Visit our safety webpage for more tips.