From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Public-images-osm logo.svg power = cable
Power to the People - geograph.org.uk - 560240.jpg
An insulated cable carrying electrical power, such as transmission or distribution cables located underground and undersea cables Show/edit corresponding data item.
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 (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
See also
Status: de facto

A cable is insulated (IEC 461-06-01) and allows electrical power transmission or distribution in complex environments such as indoors, underground or undersea.

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

For massive power lines, mainly part of transmission networks and usually supported by towers, see power=line.
For less massive lines (mainly part of the distribution system, from mains voltage to about 45 kV, depending on the country or area), usually carried on poles, use power=minor_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.

  • Optionally add layer=* if needed 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 (diameter, material and so on) between cable sections.
  • Cables - like power lines - can be members 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
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 within this cable section Recommended
<cable operator> The name of the company which operates this power cable section Recommended
<cable owner> The name of the organization that owns the cable Optional
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 forests 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

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!
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!


Photo Location Tagging Note
2004-05-12 bewagtunnel.jpg
Germany way power=cable
Two circuits power cable installed in a tunnel in the Berlin underground
Wooden power pole.jpg
France way power=cable
Overhead cables suspended on wooden poles


Power cables aren't shown on OSM Carto and the following services are available:

See also