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Choose Flow Coat Painting for Superior Coverage and Performance

flow coat painting

What Are High-Voltage Insulators?

High-voltage electrical insulators prevent electric current present in high voltage conductors from jumping to the ground. Insulators do this by impeding the movement of electrons which, by nature, seek a path to ground.

They are found on high-voltage electrical line support structures as well as in electric power substations. Often called bells, they are composed of non-conductive materials. Insulators are in fact mechanical support structures for high voltage power lines.

Insulators are typically placed at the top of support poles with the power line secured to them with shielded aluminum wiring. However, they may also be placed horizontally along a line or attached in a multiple bell parallel sequence to increase resistance at the point of contact with the transmission or distribution line.

Insulators prohibit the electrical current traveling through the power transmission line from rushing down the support tower and into the ground below.

If the surface of the insulator is contaminated with salt or other conductive debris, the effectiveness of the insulator is compromised. This can lead to inconvenient, costly, and even deadly consequences including disruption of electrical service, fires, and electrocution.

Keeping your insulators functioning properly can be an expensive proposition unless you follow a simple plan of maintenance that features routine cleaning and proper coating of your grid equipment. As with any system, the weakest link in the chain is where the failure is most likely to occur.

Benefits of Cleaning High-Voltage Insulators

Typically formed from glass, ceramic, or polymers, these saucer-shaped devices are non-conductive by nature. However, nature itself sometimes causes insulators to fail.

Wind, dust, sandstorm, saltwater, acid rain, and even bird-droppings contain properties that erode surface glaze and render the insulator less resistive to the electrical current. To prevent this erosion and the resultant negative consequences, a strict routine of cleaning and flow coating should be followed.

Cleaning the entire surface of high voltage insulators is critical. Any mineral deposits, especially sodium and chloride (elements of salt), can act as a virtual conduit that allows electrons to move about freely. The mineral debris field is used by the current to skip across an otherwise non-conductive surface.

The result is at best a glowing corona and at worst an electrical arc, also known as an arc flash or flashover. That's because the electrical current can be seen arcing over or flashing over the surface of the high-voltage insulator as it seeks a path to ground.

Each corona discharge of arc flash is a drain of current from the power transmission grid. Massive contamination along the transmission lines can drain off enough electricity to cause brownouts or even blackouts. Imagine hundreds of miles of transmission lines, tens of thousands of insulators, all covered in salty rain waters brought in from the ocean by a hurricane. All that salt is going to result in a disruption of power transmission as electricity simultaneously bleeds off from each of those insulators.

Once thoroughly cleaned and free of debris, flow coat painting will extend the service life of high-voltage insulators, transformers, cabinet boxes, and other transfer devices and components deployed along the line grid or in the substation environment.

Pure water can be used to pressure wash away salts and other surface contaminants. Depending on where your grid devices are located, it may be necessary to perform a wash-down more regularly.

Why Flow Coat Painting?

The benefits of flow coat painting far outweigh those of using a spray paint method. Flow coat painting is ideal for large items that require a solid, blemish-free coating.

This method is preferred because it allows you greater control over bubbles, drips, and foam that can cause imperfect coverage. Those imperfections eventually lead to an early breakdown of the protective coating and require a costly re-painting.

Flow coating is a process found superior to other methods, such as spraying or dipping. Liquid coatings are channeled through a hose onto the top areas of the item to be coated.

As the coating freely flows down the side surfaces of the item it covers the entire surface resulting in 100 percent coverage and effectiveness.

This is one reason that flow coating is more economical than wasteful methods such as spray painting or dipping.

Avoid Surface Defects for Better Performance

When painting high-voltage insulators, transformers, or other electric grid components, it is imperative to avoid these common surface issues:

  • Dripping/Running - uneven application due to low viscosity, gravity

  • Cissing - coating fails to adhere to the surface due to grease/oil or moisture

  • Cratering - air bubbles rise through the coating, bursting at the top

  • Pinholes - air bubbles rise, but leave capillary tunnel down to the substrate

  • Overcoating - too much coating causes the bottom to dry quicker and crack

  • Undercoating – areas of the substrate are left exposed and oxidize or rust

Each of these imperfections leaves an unprofessional appearance and lessen the effectiveness of the coating. Moisture, salt, and other contaminants are prone to

find their way into the craters and pinholes and further break down the coating. The metal substrate is also compromised and exposed to further oxidation and rust.

While rust is not a problem when the substrate is glass, ceramic or polymer insulators, compromised insulator surfaces are more susceptible to leakage currents. Contaminants in coating surface defects and atop the insulator surface are likely to result in persistent corona discharges which in turn can lead to flashovers.

Our system gives you greater control over each of these potential problems. That is why the flow coat painting method is seen as superior by those in the high-voltage power industry.

We ensure even, smooth coating across 100 percent of a device's surface. This means no areas exposed to the elements. Your devices will last longer and perform more effectively.

Modern coatings are chemically engineered to increase resistance to corona discharges and flashovers via scientifically proven formulations. No matter what your end goal, we have a high-quality coating that will economically meet your needs.

Controlling the exposure of your grid equipment to UV sunlight, wind-borne debris, salts, other minerals, chemicals, and acids, astronomically decreases the chance of substrate exposure and subsequent oxidation and equipment failure.

Peripheral Benefits of Flow Coat Painting

Exercising greater control over leakage currents is also environmentally sound. EPA scientists have stated that elimination of leakage of currents along high-voltage power lines can reduce greenhouse gasses. Eliminating as little as 2 milliamps of leakage along 2000 circuit kilometers of 230 kV transmission line will reduce 30 million kilograms of CO2 fossil fuel emissions.

Flow coat painting procedures also recoup and recycle coatings during the process. This is not possible with spray painting solutions. You will find that this results in a more effective coating and is cleaner and more environmentally friendly.

Even surface coverage is crucial for effective insulation. Any exposed area not only invites oxidation and/or rust, but it is an open door for electrical discharges seeking a path to ground.

Professionally administered flow coating eliminates the possibility of such exposure and the negative impacts that arise from them.

Why Are Coatings So Effective?

Silicone-based coatings are uniquely formulated to deliver durable, long-lasting water-resistant (hydrophobic) surfaces. Common corrosive elements, such as acids and salts, UV sunlight, extreme climates, and corona discharges will not negatively impact these patented coatings.

Because they are self-cooling by design, these coatings offer protection from damage caused by discharges.

Some coatings chemically neutralize contaminants rendering them harmless before any damage can be done. As your go-to coating specialists, we can provide you with the right coating at the right price.

You and your power customers will enjoy superior grid performance, fewer power interruptions, and less expense.

When these resilient coatings are applied to your insulators, transformers, and other electrical grid devices and structures, you can expect:

  • Extended Longevity

  • Superior hydrophobicity

  • Corona and flashover resistance

Longer life of your equipment easily pays for the cost of deploying our coatings across the entire spectrum of your power grid.

The High Cost of Equipment Failure

Faulty high-voltage electric equipment (along with nature management failures) has been blamed for sparking over 2,000 wildfires in the state of California alone.

Aggressive inspection and maintenance of transmission lines, structures, transformers and insulators, and substations must be a priority if such tragedies are to be avoided.

The cost of failure includes loss of woodlands, homes and properties, wildlife, and human life.

Utility companies also lose community trust, goodwill, reputation, and in some cases, millions of dollars in legal costs and settlements.

Inspecting miles of high-voltage transmission lines is a daunting task, but preemptive action, such as flow coat painting can greatly reduce the occurrence of corona discharges and flashovers that in turn ignite nearby brush and vegetation.

Hire a Professional and Reap the Benefits

Protect the public, nature, and your bottom line by hiring a professional flow coat painting specialist. We can select the best coating solution for your situation.

As trusted professionals, we can perform the required testing and analysis to determine the threats you face. Each solution is tailor-made to provide the most cost-effective, durable coating available to combat the contaminants that are common in your region.

Whether the threat is from sea salt, sandstorms, humidity, or other contaminants, deploying a high-quality coating application is like buying insurance for your electrical grid operation.

Dielectric and Hydrophobic Protection

Flow coat painting from our skilled technicians provides you with the latest in dielectric, hydrophobic technologies.

Our dielectric coatings freely transmit the electric force of your system without conduction. That is the very definition of an insulating property. So, you can count on us for improved insulation, as well as longevity for your insulators.

Additionally, hydrophobicity of the insulator or transformer surface is maximized. This means that your grid devices more easily bead water, causing it to run off more readily.

The hydrophobic, or water-repelling, properties of our specialized coatings reduces the chance of rainwater, salt, and other contaminants from sticking to the surface of your equipment and helps manage corona discharges, preventing flashovers.

Protecting Against the Porous Nature of Ceramics

Especially in the case of the ceramic insulators still in use today, our specially engineered coatings provide a unified shield that turns an otherwise porous surface into a non-porous one.

Ceramic insulators come from the factory with a surface glaze that makes them essentially non-porous initially. But environmental elements can breakdown the glaze and allow moisture, salt, and oxygen to pass through the insulator surface and down onto the support structure.

This is the scenario needed for a flashover to energize the pole or support structure as it makes its way to the earth below. It is the nature of electrical energy to seek the path back to earth. Given even a tiny pinhole-sized opportunity, the discharge can and will slip through. We have already discussed the disastrous nature of such a breach.

Even Glass Insulators Can Become Porous

Glass insulators, more popular in Europe than the USA, are by nature non-porous. Yet, exposure to various industrial acids, animal protein acids found in bird droppings, salt, sandstorms, etc., removes non-silica elements on the surface of the glass, making it porous.

While pure water (H2O) is a very poor conductor of electricity, water that has dissolved solids within, such as salts and other minerals, becomes extremely conductive. When the insulator surface has been compromised by corrosive elements, electrons are free to move through the pores and imperfections

The best insurance against grid failure or catastrophes from arc flashover is a coating that offers 100 percent impenetrable seal against the elements and contaminants.

Coverage You Demand and Your Customers Deserve

Modern coatings are chemically engineered to increase resistance to corona discharges and flashovers via scientifically proven formulations. No matter what your end goal, we have a high-quality coating that will economically meet your needs.

Our technicians are vastly experienced high-voltage power grids and how to protect them with the proper coating. They are properly trained and certified in flow coat painting applications. Call us today and enjoy:

  • Competent application of coatings

  • The correct formulation for your situation

  • Fewer costly incidents involving ignition due to faulty devices

  • Longer field life of your power grid devices

  • Increased insulation and protection from discharges

  • Cost savings based on fewer replacements of damaged equipment

  • Better community trust and goodwill

Avoid Costly Interruptions of Service

Let us show you how we can provide 100% coverage of your insulators, transformers, and other grid equipment with only minimal disruption of power transmission.

There simply is no better solution for protecting your power grid operation and your customers than with an appropriate flow coat painting by our professionals.

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