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Features in use

  • what about the frequency of the line? eg frequency=50 for 50Hz. --RalpH himself 20:12, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
  • what about the power system (ac, dc, 3 phase)? any suggestions? --RalpH himself 20:12, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
  • Should the voltage be in computer readable form, eg 650000 not 650,000? Steve 18:48, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Example: This is a normal european high voltage line with 2 systems (each with 3 phases, but different voltage!):

frequency=50, (=0 for DC)
operator=local energy coop., (could be more than one)
power=line,(Look, it's a line for electric energy!)
voltage=380000;110000 (two different voltages, high first to low last)
wires=quad;single (one system with four and one with no bundled conductor)

Electric flow of systems can be insert as relations. type=route, route=power More at power lines in OSM.

Simple tower tagging in potlatch

Is there an easy way to tag all nodes in power=line as power=tower in Potlatch? If you follow Yahoo! aerial for a long while, it takes forever to tag the tower's, especially if there is 2 or 3 parallel lines. BlueMM 02:29, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

try the "r"-button, it copies the attributes from the last selected way/node/area (each separately) to the currently selected. --RalpH himself 20:12, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Single pole "low" voltage lines

I've tagged some occasional 0,4 (or 11 kV) lines as power=minor + voltage=400 (or what's appropriate) and power=pylon; we have so much of these in the countryside that they seem like a separate class of lines, distinct from the high metal pylons - as instructed under power=tower. Anyone else? Or would it be better to use power=minor_line? Alv 08:25, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

I think power=minor is not clear enough, power=minor_line is better. Plus I think that pylon is the exact word for the big latticework towers that we tag as power=tower so I'd say you should use another word to be clear as well. How about power=pole? I mean we're talking about wooden poles anyway which carry these lines, right? Generally you should propose these as new features if you want them to be of practical use - else the probability that somebody will use them is much smaller. --Mabapla 17:25, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

I'll move them to minor_line and pole, eventually. They're not something I, or probably anyone, will be mapping extensively anytime soon, so a mention on the talk page should suffice for now. And they most definitively won't be and shouldn't be shown on the main maps. Alv 19:33, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
proved as false! ;-) Bahnpirat
But sometimes I see a minor-line with small tower. Osm tag the reality, then a pole is a pole (big or small, metal, beton, wood) and tower is a structure. Bredy 28 August 2013


It's not clear to me what's meant to be tagged with wires=*. Let me describe a bit what a power line consists of to introduce some words - part of my problems is probably to understand the english terms which are probably not fixed after all.

A single line that is able to connect two power stations consists of three cables (L1, L2, L3) if it's three-phase AC. At least let's call them cables for now. It has four cables as far as I can tell if it carries power for railways, at least that's so in Germany. (In German I would call them "Leiter". A cable = "Kabel" to me is usually all of them together, most of the time insulated in plastic and bundled together with the neutral wire, connecting houses to the nearest sub station etc. )

These high voltage cables may consist of one up to four wires, at least I don't know of more than four. If there is more than one wire, there are little spacers every, say, 10 meters to keep them at a distance of about 20 cm. Quite often, more than one such line can be found on one tower - I have seen up to four and believe that's the upper limit as the towers would become too big otherwise. Often they just run on the same towers for a limited distance and split or join at some point.

Now which of this is supposed to be tagged with "wires"? I guess the number of individual wires per phase. Am I right? If yes, what's the interesting information here? Most important to tag for me is where the lines come from and where they go. And also the voltage they carry. At the moment I put this in the name so it can be seen on the map.

I have another question that is related with this one: Are you supposed to use one {{tag|power|line} per line or only one if they share the same towers? At the moment I do it the latter way as having two "ways" of the same type which share the same nodes is usually not a good idea (you'd never tag two residential ways with identical nodes) but that would not give us any possibility to correctly tag towers that carry entities with different voltages and numbers of wires.

I hope someone can shed some light on this. --Mabapla 16:59, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

This confuses me, too. I believe wires=* is what you call wires above, and there's no established convention for the coarser number of cables. I propose to use cables=* for this. Image:Power-tower.JPG would then be tagged power=line cables=6 wires=double. Agree? Robx 07:50, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Number of poles

In some locations, Ive found power-lines carried by structures which dont quite fit into either tower or pole/pylon. The frames Im talking about, are shaped like a T with 2 vertical poles, often made from wood. These are more than a single wooden pole, but arent as large/complex as a large metal tower even though they can often carry high voltage cables. An example can be seen here. My proposal is tag these structures as power=pole and poles=2/3. What do others think? Dvaey 4:10, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

My proposal is: allow the tag power=tower not only to nodes but to lines also. For such portal-shaped structures a line may spread over the entire "gate". And tag nodes where legs (supporting poles) are pitched into ground with power=tower_leg or such. --Surly 05:50, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Poles vs. towers?

What kind of rules do folks use to determine whether a particular support structure should be tagged as a tag:power=pole or tag:power=tower? Size? Material? Voltage? Structure (lattice/tube/solid)? I have considered many options and I'm currently going by the number of legs: a pole has one leg while a tower has two or more legs. Pros and cons?

T99 09:13, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

It's true that there's no definitive decision rule, but one can and should look at the history: in 2007 nobody thought that we'd ever bother to map anything but the big towers (lattice, two to six legs and, permanent stairs, multipart insulators) high voltage lines. There was a picture somewhere of a one legged 110 kV tower, and i've seen six legged poles (which had 11-21 kV lines, don't remember exactly). We have older high voltage lines with wooden construction, and middle voltage poles made out of metal, and in another country they had low voltage poles out of concrete. IMO it's a combination of size and voltage - if the voltage is high enough, it can't be a pole; if the structure is small enough, it can't be a tower. Maybe someone could start a gallery of poles for which the classification isn't obvious, so that they could be compared and then consistently classified. Alv 09:50, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
I like the idea of posting pictures of various cases for discussion here. Also, manufacturers of concrete and steel poles post a lot of (copyrighted) pictures of their products in many applications. T99 00:36, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Started here: Tag:power=pole/Gallery. Alv 13:52, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I see the picture File:Powerpole-branching01.png for me the correct tag for this pole in power=transformer and not power=substation.Bredy 28 august 2013
My rule is very simple. If it is a power=line I use "tower". For power=minor_line I use "pole" irrespective of what the actual support looks like. Usually it corresponds very well to the actual use of lattice towers for higher voltages (>45 kV) versus wooden poles for lower voltages, but there are exceptions. polderrunner 20:20, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Difference between substation and station

The wiki page says that a 'station' is a place where 'wires come in or go out here', while a 'sub_station' is 'smaller than a station, could be box on the street'. This creates a problem, because some sub-stations meet the definition of a 'station' (ie. wires coming in and out) but are not a box on the street. However, if all sub-stations are tagged as stations this makes it impossible to differentiate between a terminal station and a zone station. Is there any effort to distinguish between the two types (terminal vs zone) or should an effort be started? Dvaey 0:23, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

I tend to base the distinction on the highest voltage used by the facility:
  • transmission voltage (e.g. 230 or 500 kV): tag:power=station (though the name of the facility might contain the word "substation")
  • sub-transmission voltage (e.g. 60, 69 or 115 kV): tag:power=sub_station
  • distribution voltage (e.g. 12 or 21 kV): I haven't bothered to map these (often just a can in a pole or a box by the street)
Others might disagree (115 kV could be a borderline case, depending on other characteristics). Btw, I use tag:power=line for 60 kV and tag:power=minor_line for 21 kV.
T99 02:39, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

I think the introduction of tag:power=station was a mistake. Substations are always called 'substations' irrespective of size and voltage, see Wikipedia. And according to Wikipedia a 'power station' is actually a power plant! Therefore I would like to see the 'station' tag deprecated to remove this confusion. polderrunner 16:23, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

That is a good point. Trying to think this rationally, I don't see any compelling arguments for using two different tag values for very similar facilities. To promote correct terminology, perhaps both power=station and power=sub_station should be deprecated and replaced by power=substation. Additional tags could be added for finer details if desired; for example voltage=230000;60000;12000. - T99 00:40, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

I always thought that a (Power) Station was where electricity was generated, and all the other 'things' were Substations, ranging from the 2m sq. area on the side of the road to the 20/30/40/50m sq. area elsewhere with many wires in and out? --Abc26324 15:36, 17 July 2011 (BST)

FEMA grid image from Wikimedia Commons

power transmission grid according to FEMA

I stumbled on a FEMA transmission grid diagram in Wikimedia Commons. Thoughts on how this compares to the OSM grid image featured on the article page here? --Ceyockey 01:59, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Power=cable vs Power=minor_line

Can anyone explain the difference between power=cable and power=minor_line? The former has nearly 700 entries in OSMdoc[1]. Stevage 07:26, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Descriptions (and current combinations with other tags) suggest that cables are never aerial lines (underground, seabed) and minor_lines are always carried on poles, although there is one minor_line with layer=-1. Current numbers are, as the Osmdoc hasn't updated for a while, 803 for cable and 1344 for minor_line. Alv 08:22, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

power=generator for everything generating something

Be aware of the proposal Proposed_features/generator_rationalisation. --vsandre 15:13, 4 September 2010 (BST)

'minor_line' vs. 'line' in the UK

There is, it seems, still a lot of confusion about how to tag some power lines. Generally for lines with big pylons or lines with single wooden poles it's fairly obvious with 'power=line' and 'power=minor_line' being used respectively. However in the UK (unsure about other countries) there are also those lines which are supported by two wooden poles which are noticeably higher then single wooden poles and are spaced further apart. Also these lines tend to run for much greater distances than those with single wooden poles and are marked on OS Maps, where as single wooden pole lines are not. I have tagged these with 'power=line' (same as pylon lines) since it seems much more fitting. In summary:

  • Cables supported by large metal pylons: 'power=line'
  • Cables supported by two larger wooden poles: 'power=line'
  • Cables supported by single smaller wooden pole: 'power=minor_line'

--Abc26324 22:19, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Makes sense. We must of course always remain aware that detailed OS Maps should not be used to derive content in OSM (as I am sure you are already aware). The fact that the OS makes a distinction between one and two poles is however very relevant. PeterIto 04:43, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Number of circuits

I'm missing a way of tagging the number of electrical circuits of a power connection. At the moment there is no documented way of tagging this. For standard three-phase aerial power lines the number of circuits can be deduced from the cables=* tag by dividing the number of cables by three. However, for underground cables this rule often doesn't apply as each cable may comprise more than one phase conductor. And typically the number of cables for an underground cable connection is unknown. For aerial power lines there may be situations where the cables tag is 'misleading'. One example would be when six conductors of a line are operated in three parallel pairs as a single three-phase circuit.

I propose to introduce circuits=* to indicate the number of circuits. It is not intended to replace the existing cables=* tag but primarily to be used when the number of cables isn't known (e.g. for underground cable systems) or when the divide-by-three rule doesn't work. Currently the 'circuits' tag is used about 600 times according to Taginfo. Would anybody object to have circuits=* added to this wiki? --polderrunner 21:57, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

That is useful tag. And a relation (I suggest type=power_circuit) for power circuits will be useful too, in order to follow a circuit on a map. How many circuits a power line bears so many relations it is included into. --Surly 05:49, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

JOSM and power pole/tower missing

If I connect the power=line to the power=sub_station+building=yes Josm advice me that there are a problem. This is a problem because I don't see the real node without a pole. Bredy 28 august 2013

Most warnings in JOSM validator are just that, warnings. The developers don't have the time to make every test foolproof; you sometimes have to step back and look again at the highlighted data to see if it makes sense or not, in that case. (There are genuine errors, too, which should never be left uncorrected.) Alv (talk) 20:33, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Customer demarcation / meter boxes

I know this gets into the realm of micro-mapping but is there an existing convention for meter boxes / customer demarcation points? There are currently 56 instances of power=meter according to taginfo. Reviewing some of those suggests these are rarely used on residential buildings. --Dónal (talk) 12:08, 26 August 2020 (UTC)