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Public-images-osm logo.svg power = cable
Power to the People - geograph.org.uk - 560240.jpg
An insulated cable carrying power, such as transmission or distribution cables under roads and sea cables. Opposite of uninsulated power=lineEdit or translate this description.
Group: Power
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Useful combination
See also
Status: de facto

A cable is often insulated and allow power transmission or distribution in complex environments and even underground or undersea.
Use power=cable for any voltage.

These heavier cables should not be confused with light-weight uninsulated power distribution lines supported by pylons and poles, for which power=line/power=minor_line are normally more appropriate. For wires and cables used to communication data, voice or information, consider using communication=line.

How to Map

Draw a line along the feature path and tag it with power=cable. By default, cables are assumed to be buried underground or underwater and location=* can be used with appropriate value.
Use power=line when they are above ground level and composed of bare conductors without insulation. Optionally, use layer=* to indicate the relative vertical alignment of different features.
For cables mounted inside a man accessible self-supporting tunnel use tunnel=yes. Dedicated and accessible power tunnels are sometimes found in large cities like London

Cables, as power lines, are physical features mapped as ways which don't represent the flow of power.
It is recommended, if known, to cut ways as often as cables are joined together. It is important to document differences (provider, diameter, material and so on) between cable sections.
When mapped as such, ducts and support infrastructure hosting the cable can be deducted more easily from OSM data : power junctions may be made inside chambers while cables are going through ducts.

Cables - like power lines - can be member of route=power relations corresponding to a whole power circuit between two substations.


Key Value Comment Recommendation
power cable It's a power cable, normally mapped as a way. mandatory
voltage <operating voltage> The voltage at which the cable is operated recommended
location <location> The physical location of the cable, such as underground. See below for possible values. The default value is underground recommended
operator <cable operator> The name of the company which operates this power cable section recommended
cables <number of cables> The number of different phase conductors for this power cable section recommended
circuits <number of circuits> The number of different and separated electrical circuits built withing this cable section recommended
frequency <operating frequency> The frequency given in Hertz at which the power cable is operating optional
name <name> The name of this power cable section. optional
ref <reference> The reference of this power cable section optional


List of possible location=* values.
Key Value Comment
location underground A cable buried underground (below terrestrial ground or undersea) going through ducts or not. This is the default value.
indoor A power cable located inside a building or a way larger underground infrastructure
underwater A power cable located on the sea/river/lake floor, which can be seen when diving without digging soil.
overground A cable installed on the ground (it is possible since power cables are properly insulated and it makes the main difference with power lines).
overhead A cable installed on poles. They can be seen in forrests or narrow environments. This makes a strong difference with uninsulated power lines, more vulnerable to climate impacts.

location:transition=yes may be used on nodes connecting two different cable sections with different location=*s. It is even better on the end node of a power line or cable disappearing underground without more knowledge.

How to detect an underground cable


Power lines by voltage using the Electricity distribution map from ITO Map

As limited visibility features, cables are not rendered on the standard Mapnik map. The following services do show cables:

See also

  • power=grounding for grounding conductors
  • power=line For uninsulated high-voltage power lines supported by towers.
  • power=minor_line For small power lines supported on poles, in particular those having a voltage below 50 kV.

Common Tagging Mistakes

If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag.
Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!