ECN Electrical Forum - Discussion Forums for Electricians, Inspectors and Related Professionals
ECN Shout Chat
Recent Posts
Old Computers?
by gfretwell - 11/21/23 03:45 PM
Simplify MOSFET Test With Source Measure Meter
by gfretwell - 11/18/23 09:20 PM
Ontario Electrical Safety Report
by Admin - 11/02/23 08:56 PM
How are you Jersey folks about the windmills?
by HotLine1 - 11/01/23 07:47 AM
New in the Gallery:
This is a new one
This is a new one
by timmp, September 24
Few pics I found
Few pics I found
by timmp, August 15
Who's Online Now
0 members (), 30 guests, and 25 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Rate Thread
Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4
#9969 05/24/02 07:30 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
sparky Offline OP
Every now and then i'll read something here that'll make me wonder if i've led a sheltered life..
This and and this have me fairly rattled
~( compliments of Bjarney )~

The technique is single wire, earth return (SWER): in other words, the power goes out along a single wire, mounted on simple poles with long spans, and then uses the earth as return.

i've so many Q's about this i don't know where to i'll simply throw it out in hopes that you fella's can answer the call.
[Linked Image from]

#9970 05/24/02 08:59 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,527
Not SWER but hi-side URD concentric-neutral cable, miles away from civilization except for the asphalt road—NE Oregon. Just seemed a bit weird—underground primary and underground secondary to an overhead transformer. It fed a cathodic-protection unit, so there must have been a steel pipeline close by.
[Linked Image from]

[This message has been edited by Bjarney (edited 05-06-2003).]

#9971 05/24/02 09:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,723
Likes: 1
Broom Pusher and

When My Wife and I rode the Coast Starlight [Amtrak] from L.A. to Seattle, we [more like I [Linked Image]] saw a lot of poles like the one in the image you posted.

Also saw [what appeared as] one Line of the Primary connected with one Line of the Secondary. I am guessing this to be a Common / Grounded Conductor on both sides [???].

As soon as we crossed into Washington, things were back to "Normal" - Two Wire [or Three Wire] Primaries and all Pots were Isolated [no "Common Line Conductor between Pri. and Sec.].

Thanks for the image and the info!

Scott S.E.T.

Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!
#9972 05/24/02 11:04 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 196
this was the best link i could find to describe it... maybe we should go into business with this one wire concept and undercut the big utilities...

i copied this from a conversation 6 years ago:
"You may not believe this, but in many parts of rural Alberta (Canada) there are single phase AC systems which run with one (1) wire only. The AC neutral is (you guessed it) the Ground. Line voltages are typically 14.4 kV for such systems."

and this link was ok too..... i copied the SWER section below

SWER Two or Single Wire System (Single Phase)

This system uses one phase of a three-phase system but the return path is via the earth. One side of a transformer primary winding is connected to the active conductor and the other side is connected to earth. These systems are connected to the 22kV and 33kV systems. This means the single-phase transformer voltages on the primary side of the transformer are 12.7kV and 19.1kV respectively.

In Western Australia an overhead earth is used so it is a two-wire system, in other states only the active is on the pole and the ground is used as the return wire.

The return current path goes through the ground or the earth system. A poor or missing earth connection can prevent the flow of current even though the system is still alive. This is true for all circuits, and highlights the need for care when working near system earthing equipment.

Lethal high voltages can exist across a poor or broken earth conductor.

#9973 05/25/02 06:57 AM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 197
Gwz Offline
Should be an excellant area to study " Step Potential".

#9974 05/25/02 08:00 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
Likely guys the 'step potential' is why this thing died a natural death. Military linemen were taught, and used this, for a long time. The higher the amperage, of course, the worse the problem.

A friend of mine still has pics from an investigation in the late 50's of a line he installed. A group of soldiers in a 6 X 6 had to traverse an area where the line dipped very low. One of the group took what they thought was dry 2X4 to hold the line over the truck.

The post mortem pics show the nail marks from his boots burned into his feet.

This AIN'T something worth studying.

#9975 05/25/02 08:46 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
sparky Offline OP
This must not be the most efficent circuit , given earth resistance.
I don't know , or see, much on the secondary configuration, is there a potential , as in some autoX-formers, for the primary to 'loop' through the secondary circuit?

I am in awe here...

#9976 05/25/02 09:01 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
That's some interesting info in the links Cindy provided.

I notice in the African studies, they propose that for SWER there should be a minimum of three ground rods, with a conventional 2-wire system where it comes into the populated area of the village.

Noticeable too are their comments about 3-phase not necessarily being the most economical way to supply power to these outlying communities; I don't doubt that where 3-ph is/was considered, this shows a heavy influence from their colonial past (many of these countries having taken British/European conventions in the early days).

As an electronics/radio enthusiast, another reason I would have for not wanting SWER is the amount of stray signals floating around in the earth ready to induce interference into a grounding rod using for telecommunications.

This was apparently a problem when electrification came to some rural areas which were still using earth-return telephone lines.

#9977 05/25/02 09:05 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 4,106
Likes: 3
I can't help but wonder about what effects this system has on "Mother Nature" in the areas where this is used.

Anybody know?


#9978 05/25/02 03:30 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 280
I have been trying to find information on this further than the references posted, and even tried 'keyword' SWER found about 73000 hits one titled Mittelhochdeutsche Texte but nothing on Swer.
Also from what I have heard about stray voltage especially on farms is that even in our area, Ohio that is because the primary is grounded without isolation to the secondary and stray voltage is picked up in barns and by the animals. Now our primary distribution is about 12.8kv and they are talking 22-33kv this sounds extreme and I would think just off the top of my head this has got to cause problems in the area.


Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4

Link Copied to Clipboard

Tools for Electricians
Tools for Electricians

* * * * * * *
2023 National Electrical Code (NEC)
2023 NEC + Exam Prep Study Guides Now Available!
* * * * * * *

2020 Master Electrician Exam Preparation Combos
2020 NEC Electrician
Exam Prep Combos:
Master / Journeyman


Member Spotlight
Campbell, CA
Posts: 356
Joined: August 2006
Top Posters(30 Days)
Admin 1
Popular Topics(Views)
313,203 Are you busy
239,151 Re: Forum
222,905 Need opinion
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5