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Home / Technical Articles / High-voltage transmission lines and Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)
High-voltage transmission lines in New  Zeland
High-voltage transmission lines in New Zeland

The corona discharge produces radio noise and in lesser extent television ( TV ) disturbances around high-voltage transmission lines. This can be easily observed by all of us when we drive under a high-voltage line. The radio produces hissing, crackling noise close to the line or under the line, but disturbance diapering fast as we drive away from the line crossing the highway.

In a similar way, TV picture disturbance can be observed close to a transmission line. The disturbance varies from the snowy picture to the collapse of the picture.

The corona discharge causes short duration (few microseconds) repetitive current pulses. The repetition frequency can be in the MHz range. As was discussed before, the corona discharge is low in fair weather and increases rapidly in foul weather.

The most severe EMI disturbance was observed during heavy rain, when the water droplets on the conductor caused corona discharge.

Additional sources of the EMI disturbance are discharge in faulty insulators or discharge generated by spikes, needles, and other sharp objects subjected to electric field. The sharp object produces an increase in the local electric field, which can lead to surface discharge. This discharge can produce EMI and unacceptable disturbances of local TV or radio reception. The generated EMI disturbance decreases w ith the distance from the line.

Typically, a 100 MHz signal decreases about 20 dB if we move 100 m from the line; simultaneously, a 1 MHz components attenuation is around 35-40 dB in the same distance.

The radio and TV noise is measured in dB; the base is 1 m V=m.

The actual disturbance depends on the signal-to-noise ratio. As an example, the same level of EMI disturbance can produce an unacceptable radio or TV reception if the broadcasted signal is weak, and no distur bance in case of strong signal.


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Edvard Csanyi

Electrical engineer, programmer and founder of EEP. Highly specialized for design of LV/MV switchgears and LV high power busbar trunking (<6300A) in power substations, commercial buildings and industry facilities. Professional in AutoCAD programming.


  1. Lorraine Magarian
    Apr 07, 2021


    I live very near high voltage lines and cannot get any radio reception on plug-in or portable radios. Any suggestions?

  2. Louis Cini
    Nov 10, 2018

    If putting a low voltage coble, next to a high voltage cable burried in the ground, about 20 cm distance. Is interfirece a problem. Thanks

  3. Malavika
    Sep 28, 2018

    I was wondering how interference caused due to high voltage lines affect magnetic sensors?

  4. Timothy McMahan
    May 30, 2014

    We want to put on a concert in a park nearby. There are transmission lines over the park. Would it be dangerous for PA equipment, IE: microphones, amplifiers, mixing boards etc and human bodies?

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