Importance of Testing for Animal Mitigation Guards


Animal Mitigation guards should be tested to demonstrate they can accomplish the intended function of preventing wildlife contact with energized parts.

IEEE 1656-2010 “Guide for Testing the Electrical, Mechanical, and Durability Performance of Wildlife Protective Devices on Overhead Power Distribution Systems Rated up to 38 kV”, includes the tests described below for this purpose.

5.2 Wet withstand

This test is designed to demonstrate that contact with the surface of the guard will not result in a flashover. The guard is installed on a test fixture per the manufacturer’s instructions. An appropriate bare conductor is installed in the test fixture terminal and energized to 20% above rated voltage (26kV for a 38kV system). A grounded probe is moved over the entire surface of the guard.  A flashover or puncture is not allowed. As noted in the title, this test is performed wet (with precipitation conditions per IEEE std. 4).

Insulators, transformer bushings, cutouts, etc., have required electrical ratings and performance characteristics that have been verified through appropriate testing. Animal mitigation guards designed for installation on such equipment should be tested to ensure they will not negatively affect those ratings.

IEEE 1656-2010 includes the tests below for this purpose.

5.3 Wet power frequency flashover

In this test, voltage is applied to the test fixture without a wildlife guard installed. The voltage is raised until a flashover occurs. The wildlife guard is then installed per manufacturer’s instructions and the test is repeated. The flashover value with the guard installed must be 90% or more per the manufacturer’s flashover value without the guard installed. As noted in the title, this test is also performed wet (with precipitation conditions per IEEE std. 4).

5.7 Salt fog aging—Testing for unusual service conditions

The “Salt Fog Aging” test is designed for extreme conditions such as coastal areas or other interior locations with the potential for high environmental fallout such as agricultural or heavy industrial areas.

This test is performed on guards in sequence after the Ultraviolet Aging test. For this test, the guard is installed on an insulator with the ground plane and conductor simulating normal installed conditions. The assembly is placed in a salt fog chamber and the conductor is energized at system voltage (19.9kV for a 34.5kV system) for 1000 hours. Flashover should not occur.

Animal Mitigation guards should be tested to demonstrate they will stay on and performance will not degrade due to UV exposure. IEEE 1656-2010 includes the tests below for this purpose.

5.6 Ultraviolet aging

This test is designed to demonstrate that electrical performance of the guards is not affected after UV exposure. This test is performed on the same samples used in the Wet Withstand and Wet Power Frequency tests described above. Those guards are placed in a UV test chamber (UVA 340 lamps) for 1000 hours. The condition of the guards is noted and the Wet Withstand and Wet Power Frequency tests are repeated. A flashover or puncture is not allowed.

5.8 Retention

This test is designed to demonstrate guards will remain installed when exposed to extreme winds.  One test option is to install guards on a test fixture that simulates installed conditions.  Then, from various angles, the guards are exposed to a constant wind speed of 60 mph.  Guards must remain installed.

Animal Mitigation guards should also be tested to demonstrate flame retardant properties.

Guards that are not flame retardant can catch fire due to a flashover.  This can result in flaming material falling to the ground below and causing a wildfire.

IEEE 1656-2010 includes the tests below for this purpose.

5.9 Flammability

The UL94 test is included as an option to demonstrate flame retardant properties.  A rating of V-0 is the highest rating and means that when exposed to a flame for 10 seconds, the material will self-extinguish a will not release flaming droplets.


Greenjacket’s Proprietary Material Formulation for Cover-up and Reliaguard ReliataniumTM guards pass all the above tests, which demonstrate:

Equipment ratings are maintained

Guards can prevent wildlife contact

Guards are not affected by extreme environmental conditions

Guards are flame retardant, will self-extinguish and will not drip flaming material


Some manufacturers publish only material tests results or material properties.  Such information does not demonstrate how the guards perform once they are installed.  IEEE 1656-2010 requires tests on actual guards to demonstrate electrical and environmental performance.  Performance of wildlife guards is a combination of good design, material formulation and material processing.  This can only be demonstrated through testing of the guards.  “Materials” tests tell only part of the story.

Darren Barnett

Darren Barnett, VP MEPP (Manufacturer’s Equipment Protection Program) / Technical Services, holds a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Louisiana Tech University and has over 28 years of experience in the electric power distribution industry. Darren’s career started as a design engineer for a major transformer and components manufacturer. From there he advanced to positions of increasing responsibility, including Quality Assurance Manager, Engineering Manager and Vice President of Components Operations. Darren is an active member of IEEE and was on the committee that developed the 1656 -2010 testing guide for wildlife mitigation products.

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