Towers, Masts, and Poles Information

Towers, masts and poles are used to provide elevation, stabilized support or position control for personnel or equipment. They provide a line of sight for viewing and illumination as well as the transmission and reception of signals. Most towers, masts and poles are made of aluminum, steel, stainless steel, wood, plastic or composite materials. Aluminum is a relatively lightweight metallic element that provides high toughness at moderate strength levels. With the addition of copper, aluminum alloys can be heat-treated for higher hardness and greater strength. Carbon and alloy steels offer high toughness and good weldability; however, steel structures need to be painted or coated to prevent rust or corrosion. Stainless steel is highly corrosion resistant, but often too expensive for use in large towers, masts, poles and support structures. Plastic products and fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) provide alternatives to metal materials. Some plastics offer strong dielectric and nonreflective characteristics. Others provide good electrical insulation and are relatively safe for use as mounting brackets or cross arms on power pole lines or towers. Though more costly than traditional plastic materials, fiberglass-reinforced plastic is stronger than wood and easier to maintain. Pressure-treated wood is used mainly for structural or building applications, but is also used for utility poles and lighting applications.

Types of Towers, Masts and Poles

There are many different types of towers, masts and poles. Concealed or sheathed structures are attractive, unobtrusive antenna support structures used to provide wireless coverage. Some designs resemble clock towers or flagpoles. Fold-over towers bend or articulate at a 10-foot level or other interval to allow easier access for the maintenance of meteorological atmospherics, security cameras, lights or other mounted equipment. Guyed towers use guy wires to support antennas and communication equipment for telecommunication, radio transmission, cellular, and wireless applications. Masts are often mounted on another tower or building to extend height or for horizontal extension from a tower or pole. Mobile towers often include a telescoping tower that tilts up or folds down. They are suitable for emergency communications,  two-way radio, remote base stations, and cell-on-wheels (COW) applications. Poles are free-standing masts typically with solid cylindrical supports.  Monopoles provide a free-standing tower for lighting, traffic or communication antenna applications. Platforms towers used mainly in surveillance, recreation, and construction. Other types of towers, masts, poles and support structures include roof top towers, self-supporting towers, and telescoping or crank-up towers. 


Towers, masts and poles are used in a variety of applications. Some products are or used to support antennas, lighting equipment, surveillance cameras, wind turbines, weather instruments or power lines. Others are used to support storage containers such as water tanks or bulk material silos. Beacon and long range navigation (LRN) towers are designed for mounting navigation, directional or lighting aids for aircraft, ships, trucks or automobiles. Lifting towers provide crane-like material handling capability. Towers, masts and poles are also used in offshore oil platforms or other oil extraction applications.

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