What Types of Structures Use Guy Wires?

what types of structures use guy wires?


A guy wire is a tension cable that contributes to the stability and safety of vertical towers or poles. Without guy wires, construction heights would have much lower limits. The strength of guy wires is essential for keeping tall structures upright, even in high winds or other adverse conditions. With so many vertical structures in use in modern society, they have many more purposes than most people appreciate. 

Understanding the uses for guy wires will reinforce their importance and why you need customized wires for your projects.

What Are the Main Purposes of Guy Wires?

These wires add stability to tall structures by connecting the tower to the ground. The heights of structures that require guy wires depend on the type of structure and local building requirements. For example, in Woodland, California, the municipal code requires guy wires to support all four sides of communication towers measuring 10 feet or higher in intervals of 10 feet. Consulting local requirements is best when choosing the number and type of guy wires to use for upright structures.

The extra strength and stability provided by guy wires enable the construction of towers hundreds of feet high. Permanent guy strands keep towers and poles upright against many forces. Some forces include high winds or the forces of power lines that can add weight to the sides of poles they run between. 

However, guy wires don’t always have to be used permanently. Some applications include using guy strands to support and stabilize sections of high-rise buildings during construction or to keep heavy loads lifted by cranes stable. Another temporary use is for tree support — trees may need guy wires to support them until they grow taller to hold themselves upright.

Whether used temporarily or permanently, guy wires protect structures from leaning or falling down, which enhances the safety of the surrounding area.

Different Uses of Guy Wire

There are many applications for guy wires. The strength, size and coating required for guy wires depend on their application and location. For example, guy wires used to support heavier towers must have additional strength compared to guy wires for supporting lightweight tents. Additionally, opposing forces will dictate the wire's strength. For instance, heavy winds increase the force on a tower or pole, which requires stronger guy wires or more wires to ensure long-term support. 

Below, you'll find various types of structures that use guy wires.

1. Guy Wires for Utility Poles

One of the most commonly encountered uses of guy strands is to support utility poles. These poles include structures to support telephone, cable and power lines.

Unlike other structures, utility poles are buried in the ground. Therefore, each pole can stand on its own before it has utility lines connected to it. Once the pole has utility lines running to and from it, it has forces pulling on either side of it. 

These wires offer additional support and stability for poles to help them stay upright even under these extra forces. As a result, utility poles are sometimes called guyed poles. The poles at the end of a utility line run, called dead-end poles, are especially in need of guy wires because they have pulling forces from the utility lines on only one side.

Often, guy wires for poles require placement in populated areas where the public will frequently encounter the poles and their wires. Consequently, one of the major concerns for guy wires used to support power poles is the chance of the steel wire becoming electrified. To protect the public, guy wires have insulators near the top to prevent power from traveling along the guy strands to the ground. Additionally, the wires may have reflective covers near their anchor points to enhance visibility and prevent accidents.

2. Guy Wires for Communication Towers

guy wires keep structures standing tall

Structures used to transmit cell signals need the extra stability of guy wires to keep them standing tall. Because phone towers carry vital cell signals, the strength of the tower impacts a large number of people in the surrounding area who rely on their cell phones for communication. The wires may need insulation to prevent the steel structure of the guy strands from causing interference with communications signals.

3. Guy Wires for Light Towers

Exceptionally tall light towers may need guy wires to prevent them from swinging due to high winds or the weight of the lights on top. While not all light towers need guy wires, local codes may require extra support for structures over 10 feet tall. In certain cases, guy strands may not be a requirement but offer benefits for the light tower, such as securing the tower to ensure a safe work environment.

While guy wires may not be required for installing light towers, they can provide necessary stabilization and support, especially in locations with high winds.

4. Guy Wires for Antennas

Using guy wires has enabled television and radio antennas to become some of the tallest structures in the world. In fact, one of the world’s tallest structures for decades was the KVLY-TV antenna in North Dakota. This guyed mast, built in 1963, measured 2,063 feet tall. Currently, it remains the second-tallest broadcasting mast. This tower has guy wires to support it through heavy winds and inclement weather.

Note that taller antennas have advantages over shorter alternatives. These towers can send out signals to a wider area, increasing the broadcasting range for radio or television stations. In rural areas, such broadcasting can increase the number of people connected to local news. As a result, guy wires play a crucial role in ensuring people have access to news, entertainment and more.

The guy strands used for broadcasting antennas need to support the structure and avoid interfering with radio or television signals. As with cell towers, antennas may need insulation to prevent problems with the signals sent from the tower.

5. Guy Wires for Flare Stacks

Flare stacks can experience vortex shedding problems when wind causes vibrational forces to add stress to the structure. While flare stacks can stand on their own in calmer conditions, using guy wires can enhance their stability in the wind and mitigate the impact of vortex shedding. When choosing support for flare stacks, consider the additional ground space required for anchoring the guy strands needed for stability.

6. Guy Wires for Turbines

extra support can help keep turbines stable

While turbines can be self-supporting, due to their nature of encountering heavy forces from wind, extra support can help to keep them stable. The guy wires for turbines typically need a radius of one-half to three-fourths the turbine's height to provide enough space for anchoring. Planning for the additional space needed for guy wires will determine the total turbines a piece of land can support.

7. Guy Wires for Tents

Many tents used for outdoor events need stability to stay upright and protect the people inside of them from the elements. For large tents used for outdoor catered events, both pole and frame styles use guy wires for support. These guy wires ensure proper tension of the covering and a way to keep the tent upright during high winds. Companies that rent such structures rely on using strong guy lines to keep their large tents secured from collapse or blowing away in heavy wind conditions.

8. Guy Wires for Trees

Some trees may also benefit from using guy wires. For instance, newly planted trees usually require extra support because the top of the tree may be heavier than the roots can hold. When a young tree needs support and has a diameter of four inches or wider, guy wires may be a solution. Depending on their application and the spacing of trees in the area, guy wires may stretch from a tree to the ground or go between two or more trees.

Those who frequently plant young trees along often use guy wires instead of staking to keep trees stable until their roots grow properly to support the tree. Additionally, arborists implement guy strands to support damaged trees until the plant can heal itself and use its natural support system.

Factors That Affect Guy Wire Specifications

Most guy strands come in a variety of sizes and coatings. However, you'll want to consider a few more points when ordering customized steel guy wires. These choices include:

  • Strength of the wires based on the maximum load the wire can handle
  • Length of the wires to provide the optimum tension from the tower to the ground
  • Size to meet the strength requirements of the guy wires
  • Elasticity and stiffness balance to provide enough protection against twisting forces to prevent breakage or structural damage
  • Stability to remain in place and support the structure
  • Coating to provide corrosion protection, such as galvanized zinc in Class A, Class B or Class C or our zinc-aluminum alloy Bezinal®

The above specifications don’t include the necessary hardware for installation, which will depend on the size of the guy wires installed and the type of soil the anchors will go into.

factors that can influence your installation of customized steel guy strands

Even after selecting guy strands for installation, you still need to think about how you will have the strands safely installed by a professional installer. The following factors can influence your installation of customized steel guy strands:

  • The total number of guy sets needed, based on the height and weight of the structure
  • Local code requirements
  • Weather conditions forecasted
  • Soil type at the installation site
  • Pole type to withstand buckling under guy wire tension
  • Professional installers

By carefully choosing the specifications for the wires and using professional installation, you can have confidence in the performance of the guy wires for your commercial or industrial structures.

Bekaert's Expertise in Guy Wires

For decades, Bekaert has manufactured steel wires for multiple industrial and commercial applications. Among the types of wires we produce are guy wires for the power and communications industries. How does our expertise make a difference in our products?

First, we heavily invest in research and development. This prioritization leads to innovations such as our zinc-aluminum alloy coating, Bezinal®. This coating differs from the industry standard of galvanized zinc coating by providing better protection against the elements. It's one of the ways our R&D investment ultimately benefits our customers, giving them a connection to truly unique products.

Second, we put quality control first in our manufacturing processes. Bekaert products are made in America and use quality steel and coatings requested by the customer. For applications such as telecommunications towers, the type of coating and wires make a difference in performance. Since guy wires require customization, we work hard to ensure that our customers' requests are met.

Third, our line includes galvanized guy wires with Class A, Class B or Class C zinc coatings. These classes correlate to the amount of coating in weight per square inch. Class A has the lowest weight per square inch of galvanized zinc coating while Class C has the highest. 

Another corrosion-resistant option we provide is our proprietary Bezinal®, which is a zinc and aluminum alloy that doesn't fit into galvanized zinc classes. In fact, Bezinal® provides even greater resistance to corrosion than standard galvanized zinc. Our rigorous testing process ensures that all of our galvanized zinc or Bezinal®-coated guy wires will stand up to the harshest elements.

Fourth, we strive to offer exceptional customer support. From expert advice, design flexibility and fast turnarounds, we can meet the strictest requirements for steel guy strands.

Request Custom Guy Wire Products From Bekaert

Trust your poles, towers, antenna and other structures to the strength and quality of Bekaert guy wires. With our top customer service and high-quality corrosion protection Bezinal® coating, we provide our customers with options that they can't get elsewhere.

When it comes to guy strands, rely on quality products customized to your specifications. Connect with the leading steel wire manufacturer in North America for all of your commercial guy wire needs. Contact us at Bekaert to request a quote for custom guy wire products for any industry.

request custom guy wire products from Bekaert