Padmounted transformers

A padmounted transformer on a grassy median in a parking lot. (18-150.13)

Padmounted transformers change high-voltage electricity to lower voltages that are used by appliances and lighting in your household. You may have seen these metal boxes near roads and sidewalks in your neighbourhood, perhaps on a lawn or garden. They contain high-voltage electrical equipment and have buried circuits and wires in the immediate area. 

Like any other piece of important utility equipment, they are locked and should be left alone – don’t let children play on or around them. If you see a transformer that is unlocked or has its doors open, note the identification number on the side and call us at 1-866-436-7847. Keep everyone a safe distance away, at least 10 metres (33 feet, about the length of a school bus).

Landscaping around padmounted transformers

If you have a padmounted transformer and underground electricity cables and wires on your property, you need to plan how to landscape and dig safely around this equipment. The following guidelines will help you create a garden that is esthetically pleasing without jeopardizing safe access to the transformer. 

Dig safely around padmounted transformers

Before digging, always click or call to find out the locations of buried utilities such as electricity cables and gas lines. 

Padmounted transformers may have underground cables extending out about 0.3 to one metre (one to three feet), including ground wire buried 0.3 metre (one foot) deep. Like all power lines, the ground wire should not be moved or damaged. Digging around a padmounted transformer carelessly could cause not only service interruptions in your home or community but also severe or even fatal electric shock.

Plan how to “transform” your garden

Choosing plants carefully and planning where to plant them will help ensure their roots don’t become entangled with the underground wires and that our technicians can always access the transformer. 

When planning your garden, make sure there is at least 3.0 metres of clearance in front of the transformer doors to ensure technicians can safely complete their work, whether it’s routine maintenance or responding to a power outage or emergency.

Padmounted Clearance Illustration

Sample landscaping diagram around transformer, leaving 3.0 metres in front of doors and 1.0 metres of clearance on each side.

Tips for choosing plants around the transformer

  • Draw a plan marking the location of plants, like the one pictured. No plants should be in front of the doors.
  • Note the height of the transformer so you can choose the right-sized plants.
  • Get advice from a nursery or garden specialist on the height, spread and root characteristics of the plants and how to plant them. Remember there may be ground wire buried 0.3 metre (one foot) deep, and you don’t want roots that will become tangled with or obstruct this wire.