It’s Not Just a Green Metal Box

Photo of pad mount transformer in yardYou’re aware of those green metal boxes in neighborhood yards, but do you know what they’re for? These boxes contain pad-mounted transformers that step down high-voltage electricity to a lower voltage needed for the underground wires supplying power to the lights and appliances in homes. They perform just like the gray, round transformers on power poles connected to overhead power lines.

In most cases, these boxes pose no danger, but they must be recognized and respected for the electrical equipment they contain. A box knocked askew by equipment, or tampered with and missing a lock, can become a serious danger to anyone, especially children who often use them as platforms.

Parents should explain to children that these boxes are potentially dangerous and not to be played on or around. Parents also need to make sure that their electric cooperative has properly locked the box. A pad-mounted transformer that isn’t properly secured can be a serious hazard. This is a lesson that Aaron Studer learned the hard way.

Aaron and his brother Brett were playing, using sticks as swords, when they came upon an unlocked pad-mounted transformer box. Aaron opened the box, stuck his stick inside and created a bright flash. Aaron suffered second and third degree burns to his face. Fortunately he had no permanent scars.

It’s also important to be safe while landscaping around pad-mounted transformers by:

  • Keeping shrubs and structures 10 feet away from doors and 4 feet away from the other sides of the transformer.
  • Considering the mature height of a bush or tree so as not to obstruct the transformer when fully grown.
  • Making sure plant roots will not grow to interfere with wires and buried cables.

Remember, these boxes provide electricity to your home. Keeping the area around the transformer in your yard unobstructed can speed up restoration during outages and routine maintenance checks.

For more information on staying safe around pad-mounted transformers, visit