A feeder pillar (also known as a power box, distribution pillar, or feeder pillar box) is a cabinet used to house electrical equipment. Feeder pillars act as a central circuit that controls and distributes electricity to outgoing circuits downstream to the feeder pillar. This setup provides each circuit protection, along with the capacity to be easily controlled.
Similar to a junction box, a feeder pillar box protects people from coming into contact with live wires, as well as protecting wires from dust and dampness.
Electrical feeder pillars are mounted on the street and are used to control the electrical supply to houses in a neighborhood. A feeder pillar is another word for a cutout enclosure or other electrical enclosure that is used as part of an underground electrical distribution system.
You may have inadvertently seen electrical feeder pillars driving around without taking much notice. They are typically found near:
- Retail & Leisure
- Street Lighting
- Temporary Generator Power Hook Ups
Feeder Pillar Components
A feeder pillar looks like a big steel wardrobe. The outer body of a feeder pillar is typically around 2 millimeters thick.
Electrical feeder pillars are typically manufactured in aluminum
These include ammeters, selector switches, whole house surge protectors, service fuses, and instrument panels with voltmeters. The design, structures, and build are suitable for all kinds of lighting applications. The entire feeder pillar unit is mounted on top of a steel base.
Traditional Feeder Pillars
The traditional feeder pillar design involved an open frame, supporting busbars, a pole-operated disconnector (isolator) for the incoming circuit and outgoing fuseways which are mounted in insulated carriers.
There are a couple of downsides to this traditional feeder pillar design:
- Easy to make accidental contact with live and exposed conductors
- Switching of circuits is carried out by the insertion and removal of the fuse handles (a potentially hazardous operation)
- The close proximity of the terminals to adjacent and unscreened conductors makes cabling a single circuit very difficult
As safety standards have increased over the years, these flaws in the traditional feeder pillar design have caused them to be phased out in favor of more modern types of feeder pillars. Although these modern types of feeder pillars are much safer than traditional designs, good safety practices should still be followed, including wearing good electrical gloves and anti fog safety glasses.
Types of Feeder Pillars
Feeder pillar panels can come as custom manufactured or standard empty enclosures. Here are the most common electrical feeder pillars that are available:
Rail Feeder Pillars
Rail feeder pillars are non-conductive and are available in an outdoor location or station installments. It eliminates the risk of touch voltages in electrified rail areas. These pillars can have PADS approved Network Rail equipment such as:
- DC Immune RCD
- DNO Service Hands
- Isolation Transformers
- CT Chamber & Member
- Cut-Outs & Isolators
LV Feeder Pillars
Low voltage feeder pillars (LV feeder pillars) are feeder pillar panels that operate at a “Low Voltage” (LV), where “Low Voltage” is defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as a supply system voltage in the range 50 to 1000 V AC or 120 to 1500 V DC (if you’re unsure of your operating voltage, you can easily check this with a good multimeter).
Electrical distribution pillars give LV power connections for single units or complex developments in the commercial and residential sectors.
LV feeder pillars are used for utility substation, M&E building services, hazardous area industries, and renewable energy. Highway pillars are used for CCTV, traffic signals, street lighting power, motorway communications, and control and distribution.
Feeder Pillar Design Considerations
Feeder pillars are installed by professional electricians who are experienced, trained and qualified. And they must follow the local municipality’s requirements in health and safety in lighting conditions in any location.
Thus, only approved pillars from manufacturers should be installed to ensure full compliance with local authorities on electrical safety and lighting. There can be a label of approval by the right authorities on each pillar that can be installed on any premise, whether its outside or inside the property.
The best positions should be in areas that avoid serious dangers to customers around the area. The space should be clutter-free, so the electricians can work on repair safely and easily without causing potential risk to consumers. The feeder pillar should be well lit, although if that’s not possible electricians can always wear headlamps while working.
Feeder pillars have a distinct value of their presence in any environment to ensure that the electrical fuse is secured from the property to avoid any electrical issues.
Although the feeder might appear as a metal box storing up circuity wires and coaxial cables, they create an important protection platform on any property. They function to hold circuitry safely if there’s a need to upgrade the circuit box at the designated area. Having a good feeder pillar is not enough though to make sure everything is protected, and you should always ensure that you’re using one of the best coaxial cables money can buy (as they are not very expensive).
An experienced electrician will recommend the right feeder box to hold all of the circuitry for better lighting efficiency. The right feeder helps manage a huge power supply that safely goes through the wires with the fuses labeled for easy identification. If you need help with this, a good electrical circuit tracer can assist you in quickly identify breakers and fuses and tracing wires behind walls.
Simple Minded Operation
Feeder pillars have a simple connection interface that allows for quick connection of maintenance or emergency power source. The feeders are fitted with terminals that have self-snapping fuse screws to keep the tightening torque.
The power supply for lighting and internal circuits are directly provided by the pillar. Thus, making their operation simple and easy for electricians to utilize based on their location.
Design and Robustness
A good feeder pillar should have a smooth and sleek design. It should have improved user safety via large thermostat insulated fittings. Due to its rigidity, its insulation material provides more robustness; making it able to survive harsh storms and other tough conditions. Make sure to use one of the best insulation resistance testers if you need to measure the insulation resistance.