Keep Grain Bins Away from Power Lines

Indiana farmers who are planning to move or install new grain bins this year need to know about current electrical safety standards.

“The National Electric Safety Code specifies the minimum safe distance between grain bins and power lines,” explains Rick Coons, CEO at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “That’s why it’s important for farmers to contact the co-op before they start to build or move bins.”

Generally, electric power lines must be no closer than 15 feet from a grain bin’s non-loading side. They cannot be closer than 18 feet from the highest filling or probe opening on the bin. In addition, there must be a clearance of no less than the bin height, plus an extra 18 feet from the bin’s loading side.

“The standards account for the height of the power line and that of the bin itself,” adds Coons. “For example, if the power lines serving your farm are 18.5 feet high, a 15-foot-tall bin must be at least 55 feet from the power line. A 25-foot-high bin must be at least 80 feet away, and a 50-foot bin must be at least 143 feet from the power line.”

Indiana Electric Cooperatives will not provide electricity to bins that fail to meet the minimum clearance requirements. “Several factors can affect the clearance,” Coons advises. “We always recommend that farmers talk to us early in the planning process. Our engineering staff will review your plans and help you determine the safest way to proceed. We can also provide detailed information about the Code.”


SOURCES: Cornell University, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative,  Iowa REC Info Center, Ozark Border Electrical Cooperative.