National Standards

National Wood Pole Standards Overview

The use of wood utility poles is guided by national standards, including ANSI 05.1 - Wood Poles, Specifications and Dimensions and the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). Understanding these standards and how they are applied in the design and construction of overhead systems using wood utility poles.

NAWPC and the ASC O5 Committee have produced a three-part video series on national wood pole standards. Commentary is provided by Nelson Bingel, chair of both the ASC 05 Committee and the NESC.

To view, click on the image for the respective part to play in an intergrated window on this page. You can also view it in YouTube by clicking the link at the end of each part's description.

Part 1

Reviews the standards guiding the production and use of wood utility poles, the scope of those standards and the unique strengths and loading for wood poles. (16:19)
View on YouTube

Part 2

Reviews wood pole species, applied loads, pole circumferences, and groundline and height stresses. (19:30)
View on YouTube

Part 3

Reviews the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), grades of construction, transverse loading and other design factors. (16:51)
View on YouTube


Supporting Publications

O51 NEW! ANSI O5.1-2022 - Wood Poles, Specifications and Dimensions
FOR PURCHASE ONLY. The minimum specifications for the quality and dimensions of preservative-treated wood poles that are to be used as single-pole utility structures.
Buy for $60 at ANSI eStandards Store
O53 NEW! ANSI O5.3-2021 - Solid Sawn Wood Crossarms and Braces
FOR PURCHASE ONLY. Specifications covering solid sawn-wood crossarms and braces manufactured from coastal Douglas fir and Southern Pine. The specifications are intended to cover communications crossarms, power crossarms, heavy-duty crossarms, and heavy-duty braces.
Buy for $50 at ANSI eStandards Store
TB_Sustain NEW! Technical Bulletin - Sustainable Wood Pole Design for Overhead Systems
Review alternatives to sustainably improve overhead system resiliency without increasing pole sizes to classes that are more difficult and expensive to source. Includes examples for shortening spans between poles to utilize more sustainable and readily available wood pole sizes.
12 pages, 02/20
TB_Overload Technical Bulletin - Unique Overload Capacity of Wood Poles
Reviews how natural variations and recognition of such variations in the National Electric Safety Code allow wood poles to have a much greater overload capacity in extreme weather events compared to poles made from alternative materials.
8 pages, 10/19
TB_Design Technical Bulletin - Wood Pole Design Considerations
Explores the basics of wood pole design, including the structural criteria that must be considered in determining the proper wood pole for specified loading, wind, ice and other conditions under the National Electric Safety Code.
16 pages, 07/19
TB_Values Technical Bulletin - Wood Utility Pole Design Values in the NESC
Provides the fiber strength and Modulus of Elasticy (MOE) design values for all species used for wood poles in the U.S. The values are listed in the 2017 edition of ANSI O5.1 Wood Pole, Specifications and Dimensions.
4 pages, 09/18
Equiv Technical Bulletin - "Wood Equivalent" Poles and the NESC
Discussion of issues in marketing thin walled steel poles, prestressed concrete poles, and fiber-reinforced polymer poles as "wood equivalent." Includes details on how the NESC applies different strength and load factors for each material, which means there can be no true "wood equivalent" poles.
8 pages, 05/17
SPReview Verification of ANSI O5.1 Southern Pine Wood Pole Strength Values
A 2014 research paper on research verifying published ANSI strength values for Southern Pine utility poles, confirming that poles with higher summerwood percentages are as strong as slower growing trees. Published in the 2014 AWPA Annual Meeting Proceedings.
12 pages, 06/15
JuvyWood Juvenile Wood Concerns in Southern Yellow Pine Poles
Statement addressing juvenile wood concerns and the impact on strength of treated Southern Yellow Pine poles.
1 page, 04/04