Conductor gallop

Conductor gallop

Conductor gallop is the high-amplitude, low-frequency oscillation of overhead power lines due to wind.[1] The movement of the wires occur most commonly in the vertical plane, although horizontal or rotational motion is also possible. The natural frequency mode tends to be around 1 Hz, leading the often graceful periodic motion to also be known as conductor dancing.[2][3] The oscillations can exhibit amplitudes in excess of a metre, and the displacement is sometimes sufficient for the phase conductors to infringe operating clearances (coming too close to other objects), and causing flashover.[4] The forceful motion also adds significantly to the loading stress on insulators and electricity pylons, raising the risk of mechanical failure of either.

The mechanisms that initiate gallop are not always clear, though it is thought to be often caused by asymmetric conductor aerodynamics due to ice build up on one side of a wire.[3] The crescent of encrusted ice approximates an aerofoil, altering the normally round profile of the wire and increasing the tendency to oscillate.[3]

Gallop can be a significant problem for transmission system operators, particularly where lines cross open, windswept country and are at risk to ice loading. If gallop is likely to be a concern, designers can employ smooth-faced conductors, whose improved icing and aerodynamic characteristics reduce the motion.[4] Additionally, anti-gallop devices may be mounted to the line to convert the lateral motion to a less damaging twisting one. Increasing the tension in the line and adopting more rigid insulator attachments have the effect of reducing galloping motion. These measures can be costly, are often impractical after the line has been constructed, and can increase the tendency for the line to exhibit high frequency oscillations.[5]

Once gallop has started on a transmission line, an operator's options are more limited. If ice loading is suspected, it may be possible to increase power transfer on the line, and so raise its temperature by Joule heating, melting the ice.[3] The sudden loss of ice from a line can result in a phenomenon called "jump", in which the catenary dramatically rebounds upwards in response to the change in weight.[1][2] If the risk of trip is high, the operator may elect to pre-emptively switch out the line in a controlled manner rather than face an unexpected fault. The risk of mechanical failure of the line remains.



A similar aeolian phenomenon is flutter, caused by vortices on the leeward side of the wire, and which is distinguished from gallop by its high-frequency (10 Hz), low-amplitude motion.[2][3] To control flutter, transmission lines may be fitted with tuned mass dampers (known as Stockbridge dampers) clamped to the wires close to the towers.[5] The use of bundle conductor spacers can also be of benefit.

See also

Aeolian vibration


  1. ^ a b Moore, G. F. (1997), BICC Electric Cables Handbook, Blackwell Publishing, p. 724, ISBN 0632040750,,&printsec=frontcover 
  2. ^ a b c Guile A. & Paterson W. (1978), Electrical Power Systems, volume I, Pergamon, p. 138, ISBN 008021729X 
  3. ^ a b c d e Pansini, Anthony J. (2004), Power Transmission and Distribution, Fairmont Press, pp. 204–205, ISBN 0881735035, 
  4. ^ a b Ryan, Hugh (2001), High Voltage Engineering and Testing, IET, p. 192, ISBN 0852967756 
  5. ^ a b McCombe, John; Haigh, F.R. (1966), Overhead Line Practice (3rd ed.), Macdonald, pp. 216–219 

External links

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