Home >>  blog

Electrical Insulator

An electrical insulator is a component that resists the flow of electrical current. It is used to prevent the unwanted passage of electricity and maintain separation between conductive components in electrical systems. Electrical insulators play a critical role in various applications to ensure the safety and proper functioning of electrical equipment. 

Electrical insulators play an important role on overhead lines to ensure the safety and proper operation of electrical equipment. They are commonly used in power transmission and distribution systems, electrical wiring, electronic devices, and high-voltage equipment.

Insulators in power systems have versatile applications, including their use on telephone poles.

Electric insulators differ from other materials such as conductors and semiconductors, as they inhibit the free flow of electric charges when subjected to an electrical current.

If you're interested in purchasing high-quality electrical insulators for your transmission lines, please reach out to us for a complimentary quotation. We are recognized as one of the top electrical insulator manufacturers in China.

Get Free Samples

Electrical insulator materials

There are different types of materials that are used for making electrical insulators for overhead lines.Some common materials used as electrical insulators include ceramics, glass, Composite insulator.

Types of Electrical Insulators

There are several types of electrical insulators, each designed to meet specific requirements based on the application and environment. Here are some common types: Pin Insulators, Suspension Insulators, Strain Insulators, Spool Insulators, Stay Insulators.

Electrical Insulator

Electrical Power line Insulator: The Complete Guide

What is Overhead Power line Insulator?

Electrical Insulator Materials

Types Of Insulators Used In The Transmission Line

Insulator Voltage

Features Of Transmission Lines Insulators

Insulator Design, Standards & Operating Parameters

What is Overhead Power line Insulator?

An overhead power line insulator is a device specifically designed to provide electrical insulation and support for overhead power transmission and distribution lines. These lines, also known as overhead lines or overhead conductors, carry electrical energy over long distances, typically suspended on utility poles or towers.

The primary function of an overhead power line insulator is to prevent electrical current from flowing to the supporting structures or other nearby conductive objects. It achieves this by creating a physical barrier between the conductor and the supporting structure, effectively insulating the electrical current.

Electrical Insulator Materials

Porcelain insulator

Porcelain is the most widely used material for overhead transmission lines, and its popularity stems from various reasons.

Porcelain is composed of a blend of materials such as clay, aluminum silicate, quartz, and sometimes feldspar. The material is then coated with a smooth glaze that offers protection against moisture, dust, and other contaminants.

Being one of the finest insulating materials, porcelain exhibits negligible porosity, which helps preserve its dielectric strength. Manufacturers of porcelain insulators take care to ensure the absence of bubbles and impurities that could compromise its insulating properties.

A key advantage of porcelain as an insulator is its absence of cracks or holes, enabling it to maintain high insulation resistance.

Porcelain also boasts a high dielectric strength, which can reach up to 60 kV/cm.

Flexibility is another noteworthy characteristic of porcelain. It can be easily molded into various shapes and designs, while accomplishing the same with glass can be more challenging.

The ability of porcelain to withstand diverse environmental conditions enhances its versatility. Unlike glass, the internal structure of porcelain remains largely unaffected by drastic temperature fluctuations.

These features collectively contribute to the widespread use of porcelain as an electrical insulator material, particularly in overhead transmission lines. Its low porosity, high dielectric strength, resistance to cracking, and adaptability make porcelain a reliable choice for ensuring effective electrical insulation in demanding applications.

Glass insulator

Glass is another widely used insulator material, known for its high electrical resistivity. It is commonly used in low-voltage applications, such as spool insulators and some decorative insulators. Glass insulators are typically found in older electrical systems. 

Glass possesses a higher dielectric strength compared to porcelain due to the annealing process used during its manufacturing. It also exhibits high electrical resistivity and a low coefficient of thermal expansion.

These properties ensure that glass remains an effective insulator even when subjected to high currents. Moreover, the insulating properties of glass are minimally affected by external temperature variations.

The high tensile strength of glass prevents it from heating up significantly under high-temperature conditions. Additionally, the transparent nature of glass allows for easy detection of impurities and air bubbles.

Glass has a longer service life than porcelain, as it can maintain its electrical and mechanical properties over extended periods. This durability is particularly evident in toughened glass insulators.

In terms of cost, glass insulators are generally more economical than porcelain and composite polymer insulators.

Polymeric Insulator: 

Also known as composite insulators, overhead insulating materials consist of an epoxy resin, fiberglass, and a rod-shaped core that is appropriately covered with polymer sheds.

Galvanized steel is used to secure the rod on both ends. The choice of polymer sheds depends on the specific application area. Various polymers, such as rubber, epoxy resins, ethylene, Teflon, and ethylene-propylene monomer, are used.

One advantage of polymer insulators is their lightweight nature, making them easy to transport without the risk of breakage or damage. The reduced weight also minimizes the load exerted on the electric cable.

Polymer insulators offer high tensile strength and flexibility, making them ideal for areas with significant environmental pollution.

However, one notable disadvantage of polymer insulators is their susceptibility to current leakage when moisture penetrates the insulator.

So, which material is best for power line insulators? Each of the three listed electrical insulator materials has its pros and cons. Consequently, there is no definitive "best" insulator.

Nevertheless, several parameters should be considered for any power line insulating material:

High mechanical strength to support the load.

High electrical resistance to prevent current leakage.

Non-porosity of the insulating material.

Freedom from impurities.

Once these properties are satisfied, other properties can be taken into account.

When choosing an insulator material, it is important to consider the specific characteristics and requirements. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, porcelain is heavier and more challenging to transport and install, but it is cost-effective and offers long-lasting performance. Silicone rubber insulators are easy to install, exhibit excellent pollution performance, and possess favorable mechanical properties. Glass insulators offer superior strength.

Ultimately, the selection of an insulator material depends on factors such as the application requirements, environmental conditions, mechanical stress, and budget considerations.

Types Of Insulators Used In The Transmission Line:

There are several types of overhead insulators commonly used in power transmission and distribution systems. Some of the main types include:

Pin Insulators: Pin insulators are one of the earliest types of insulators used in overhead lines. They are typically made of porcelain or composite polymer materials. Pin insulators are mounted on the supporting structures (such as poles or towers) using a metal pin and provide insulation between the conductor and the structure.

Suspension Insulators: Suspension insulators are commonly used in high-voltage transmission lines. They consist of multiple insulator units connected in series to provide increased insulation levels. Suspension insulators are suspended by metal fittings from overhead structures and support the conductor by a string or chain.

Strain Insulators: Strain insulators are used to absorb the mechanical tension in the conductors caused by line sag or changes in temperature. They are typically installed at the endpoints of line sections or where the line changes direction. Strain insulators can be made of porcelain, glass, or composite polymer materials.

Shackle Insulators: Shackle insulators are small insulators used in distribution systems to support service wires or secondary conductors. They are typically made of porcelain or composite polymer materials and have a loop or eye at the top for attachment to the supporting structure.

Stay Insulators: Stay insulators are used to provide insulation for guy wires or stays that provide stability to utility poles or towers. They prevent electrical current from flowing through the guy wires and are usually made of porcelain or composite polymer materials.

Post Insulators: Post insulators are used to support busbars or other electrical equipment in substations. They are designed to withstand high voltages and are typically made of porcelain or composite polymer materials.

Insulator Voltage

Insulator voltage refers to the voltage rating or electrical potential at which an insulator is designed to operate safely and effectively. It represents the maximum voltage that the insulator can withstand without experiencing breakdown or flashover.

Insulator voltage ranges from 400v to 1000kv and can be divided into LV, MV, HV, UHV and EHV as per the voltage grade, or distribution, transmission and substation in accordance with their applications in details.

Low voltage (LV)400v, 1kv
Medium voltage (MV)6kv, 10kv, 11kv, 12kv, 15kv, 20kv, 22kv, 24kv, 25kv, 28kv, 30kv, 33kv, 35kv, 36kv
High voltage (HV)45kv, 55kv, 66kv, 69kv, 88kv, 110kv, 115kv, 132kv, 220kv
Ultra high voltage (UHV)300kv, 330kv, 400kv, 500kv, 800kv
Extra high voltage (EHV)1000kv, above 1000kv

Common insulator voltage values

Distribution line insulator voltage400v ~ 36kv
Transmission line insulator voltage66kv ~ 1000kv
Substation insulator voltage15kv ~1000kv

Insulator Voltage for Power Lines or Substations

The nominal voltage of an insulator is determined by the system voltage of power lines or substations, and it should always be higher than the system voltage to ensure adequate insulation. Depending on the specific voltage levels required, insulators can be designed in various shapes and lengths according to relevant industry standards.

Low voltage insulators are specifically designed for power distribution lines. These insulators are suitable for handling lower voltage levels typically found in distribution networks.

High voltage insulators, on the other hand, are designed for power transmission and distribution lines where higher voltage levels are present. These insulators are engineered to withstand the electrical stresses associated with high-voltage transmission systems.

Insulators with voltage ratings above 1000V are manufactured and installed in accordance with applicable standards. These standards ensure the quality, performance, and safety of the insulators under high-voltage conditions.

In addition to nominal voltage considerations, insulator design must also account for other factors such as mechanical strength, weather resistance, pollution performance, and electrical insulation properties. The insulators must meet the specific requirements outlined by relevant standards bodies to ensure their suitability for the intended applications.

By adhering to established standards, insulator manufacturers and installers can ensure that the insulators meet the necessary criteria for voltage insulation and overall system reliability. These standards provide guidelines and specifications to ensure consistent performance and safety in power transmission and distribution systems across different voltage levels.

Features Of Transmission Lines Insulators

Here are some key features of transmission line insulators:

High Electrical Insulation: Transmission line insulators are designed to provide excellent electrical insulation. They prevent the flow of electrical current between the conductor and the supporting structure, ensuring efficient power transmission.

Mechanical Strength: Insulators used in transmission lines must possess high mechanical strength to withstand the mechanical loads and stresses imposed by the conductors, wind, ice, and other environmental factors. They should be capable of supporting the weight of the conductors and maintaining their position and alignment.

Weather Resistance: Transmission line insulators are exposed to various weather conditions, including rain, humidity, heat, cold, UV radiation, and pollution. They should be resistant to these environmental factors and maintain their electrical and mechanical properties under changing weather conditions.

Pollution Performance: In areas with high pollution levels, such as industrial or coastal regions, insulators should exhibit excellent pollution performance. They should be able to resist the deposition of contaminants like dust, salt, or industrial emissions on their surface, preventing leakage currents and flashovers.

Thermal Stability: Transmission line insulators should be able to withstand temperature variations without compromising their electrical or mechanical performance. They should have low coefficients of thermal expansion to minimize the stresses induced by temperature changes.

Easy Maintenance: Insulators should be designed for easy inspection and maintenance. They should allow for visual examination of their surface conditions to identify any signs of damage, contamination, or degradation that may require cleaning, repair, or replacement.

Long Service Life: Transmission line insulators should have a long service life to ensure the reliable operation of the power transmission system. They should be able to withstand the expected lifespan of the transmission line without significant degradation of their insulation or mechanical properties.

Insulator Design, Standards & Operating Parameters

There are specific parameters of overhead insulators that directly impact their performance, efficiency, and durability. These parameters can be classified into mechanical, physical, and electrical factors.

Mechanical Factors: In addition to providing electrical insulation, insulators are designed to offer mechanical support. Therefore, the mechanical properties of insulators are crucial. This applies to all types of insulators.

Standards such as IEC 60797 address the mechanical properties of insulators. They consider factors such as the maximum load that insulators can support. For instance, suspension insulators are often labeled with their mechanical load capacity, also known as suspension mechanical load.

Physical Factors: Physical parameters of insulators encompass characteristics related to their size, shape, weight, and materials used in their construction. These factors can influence the insulator's performance in terms of stability, resistance to environmental conditions, and ease of installation.

Electrical Factors: The electrical properties of an insulator are determined by various factors, including the spacing between the insulating material and the arcing distance.

Key electrical parameters include dry power frequency and impulse withstand capabilities. These parameters define the insulator's ability to withstand electrical stresses under different operating conditions, such as normal power frequency and transient impulses.

The voltage capacity of the insulator is also an important electrical factor. Standards like IEC 60071 provide guidelines for the standard voltage ratings of overhead electrical insulators, ensuring their compatibility and safety within the power system.

By considering these mechanical, physical, and electrical factors, manufacturers and designers can optimize the performance and reliability of overhead insulators in power transmission and distribution systems. Adhering to relevant standards helps ensure that insulators meet the required specifications and can withstand the operational demands placed upon them.


What is an electrical insulator?

An insulator is a vital component used in the electrical systems to prevent unwanted flow of current to the earth from their supporting points.

Insulators are made of insulating materials, porcelain, glass or silicone rubber, they are so insulated that no current can pass through them.

What are the types of electrical insulators?

According to the function, more than 5 types:

  • Pin Insulator

  • Suspension Insulator

  • Strain Insulator

  • Spool insulator

  • Stay Insulator, and so on

According to the voltage:

  • 5 grades in common insulator voltage values: Low voltage (LV), Medium voltage (MV), High Voltage (HV), Ultra High Voltage (UHV), Extra High Voltage (EHV).

  • 3 grades in insulator voltage for power lines or substations: Distribution line insulator voltage, Transmission line insulator voltage, Substation insulator voltage

What you should consider when choosing overhead line insulators?

There are several factors that can help you buy the best insulators for sale:

  • The applied voltage.

  • The distance between the poles.

  • The material of the insulator.

  • Dielectric properties of the insulators

  • Environmental condition.

  • The cost of the insulator.

Get in Touch

Related Information