Technical Note: Why is Creep ALWAYS a Factor?

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Why is Creep ALWAYS a Factor?
Most transmission engineers have been trained over the years to think that creep is either a factor, or is not a factor, one or the other. Other programs even go so far as to print this in their output (e.g. "creep is a factor" or "creep is NOT a factor") and then just report the "Final" sags and tensions. However, contrary to what the uninformed engineer might think and what other programs might tell you, creep is always a factor and should be considered by the prudent engineer in all designs. This TechNote explains why creep always matters and why PLS-CADD and PLS-CADD/Lite sag-tension reports both the "Creep" and "Load" conditions. First, let's explain the differences between "Creep" and "Load" conditions of a cable:

Creep is the permanent elongation of the cable due to everyday tensions that the cable experiences over a period of time. Since temperatures fluctuate year round, it is common practice that this "everyday tension" be averaged as the tension that occurs in the cable at 60º F. Some in warmer regions increase this average temperature (thus decreasing the average tensions, lowering the permanent elongations and decreasing the effect of creep) and those in colder regions may decrease this average temperature (thus increasing the average tensions, increasing the permanent elongations and increasing the effect of creep). This permanent elongation will affect all sag and tension calculations after the cable has crept. Load is the permanent elongation of the cable due to experiencing a heavy loading condition such as a heavy ice or extreme wind. Regardless of if the cable sees this load the day after it is installed, 10 years later, or 50 years later, the cable will experience an increased tension associated with that heavy loading that results in a permanent elongation. This permanent elongation will affect all sag and tension calculations after that extreme event has occurred. An important issue to keep in mind throughout the rest of this TechNote is that the heavy loading condition may actually never occur.

These two conditions are discussed in depth in Section 2.3 of Southwire's Overhead Conductor Manual, which can be obtained by request from Now that we understand the basics of Creep and Load, let's discuss why these concepts are important and why both should always be considered. When other engineers and software programs say that


Technical Note: Why is Creep ALWAYS a Factor? Page 2 of 3 "Creep is a Factor". while "Creep is NOT a factor" for the sag (e. However. Let's assume that we are going to have a Linnet ACSR cable on a 1000' ruling span. assuming that your cable sees the controlling load case in the first few years. we can generate a sag-tension report. Conversely. they just mean that the sag after the "Load" condition is greater than that after the "Creep" condition. The major flaw in this assumption of only one or the other condition occurring is that "Creep" is ALWAYS a factor. they are just referring to the fact that the resulting sag (permanent elongation) after the "Creep" condition is higher than the resulting sag (permanent elongation) after the "Load" condition. you will be giving him the lower tensions that are associated with the "Load" conditions. see our Generating Ruling Span Sag-Tension Reports in PLS-CADD/Lite TechNote). creep will control the final tension if this cable never actually sees a 1½" ice condition. However. These are fine. or even 100 year return periods. the tension is 3292 lbs . it also reports the corresponding tensions with those controlling sags. the "Load" condition results in more sag). Basic physics tells us that tension and sag are directly related. or 18% of the RTS under the Load condition. most maximum loading conditions are ultimate conditions and are designed with 25. It will properly report the maximum sag under the "Final" condition as being the maximum sag that is associated with "Load" condition. 50 or even 100 years for it. Regrettably. 50. it could be at 20 percent or more. However. "Creep" is a factor for the controlling final tension. normally whichever condition results in the most sag is what is reported in the "Final" column and it is left for the engineer to think that these values are what he is to use for his maximum sag and tension increase of 754 lbs or nearly 30% and results in a final tension of 23% of the RTS . when in reality. 4 psf wind. when the cable sags more. Load or Creep will control the final sag and the other will control the final tension.well above the normal requirements for installing dampers and a recipe for a catastrophic fatigue failure some years in the future.html 6/7/2012 . or even worse. using NESC Heavy Loading criteria (1/2" ice. So. The resulting sag-tension run can be downloaded here for your inspection. the tension under the everyday 60 degree condition (Load Case #16) is 2538 lbs. Using PLS-CADD/Lite. In these other programs. under the Creep condition. engineers can find this out the hard way when they have fatigue failures due to Aeolian vibration because their cables were at a significantly higher tension for a longer period of time than they were led to believe. The major and in some cases catastrophic problem occurs when engineers use the "industry standard" of preventing the everyday tension from exceeding 18% which traditionally means dampers are not 0º F) with a utility specified maximum loading of 1½" ice. We conclude with a couple of case studies that you can duplicate on your own. This situation where the line never experiences the maximum load condition can result in "under dampening". http://www.powline. downloading the Linnet conductor and the NESC Heavy Criteria file from our website (here) and then modifying the default NESC Heavy criteria file to add the 1½" ice condition and using that condition as the controlling condition for the after "Load" tension. not dampening cables that should have been. This leaves you with a cable that you THOUGHT would be at 18 percent of the RTS average everyday tension in its final tensions. This becomes a significant engineering concern when considering Aeolian vibration. You can easily see that while the Load condition controls the maximum final sag. Your cable may never experience that loading condition or may have to wait for 25. (To see how to do this for yourself. the tension goes up. Let's take the case where another sag-tension program says "Creep is NOT a factor". When your damper manufacturer now asks you what your "Final" tensions are. if they say that "Creep is NOT a factor". the tension goes down and when the conductor sags less.g. Examining the sag-tension run.

Technical Note: Why is Creep ALWAYS a Factor? Page 3 of 3 Now.html 6/7/2012 . All Rights Reserved. In summary. or 7871 lbs in this case. this results in an actual maximum "Final" tension of 8571 lbs under the Creep condition. as can be seen in the sag-tension run from PLS-CADD here. This is something that we simply cannot accurately predict and certainly cannot rely upon occurring. understanding that we will most likely be adding dampers. a 700 lb difference and a violation of the NESC by nearly 10 percent. the damper selection would be made on a tension 700 lbs less than what the final tension most likely will be. Using other software. Additionally. In reality. let's take a Drake ACSR conductor and string it on the same 1000 foot ruling span and pull it up to the maximum NESC limiting tensions (Rule 261H1. You should seriously question anyone or any design that says. © 2000 Power Line Systems. page 179/180 of the 2002 NESC). "Creep is NOT a factor". Inc. it is absolutely critical for an engineer to consider both Load and Creep final conditions and design his cables to meet the code and select the proper dampening designs based on both cases. it would have reported that "Creep is NOT a factor"). as being after Load ( http://www. the engineer would have miscalculated the controlling tension as the 25% "Final".powline. unless the cable sees the 1½" ice condition in the next 10 years.