Aluminum vs. Steel: A Quick Breakdown

04-27-2020
Aluminum vs. Steel: A Quick Breakdown

When choosing a light pole, material is one of the first decisions that should be made. Steel or aluminum, which is better for your project? Is aesthetic important? Are there harsh weather conditions to consider?

Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.

Aluminum Poles

If you’re looking for a longer-lasting finish that requires less maintenance, aluminum poles may be the right choice. They’re corrosion-resistant, so their finish is durable and lasts for a long time. Since they’re made of a lighter material, they’re also easier to unload at the job site. And they’re recyclable, so when the time comes to replace them years down the road, you can have them recycled and help protect the environment.

However, aluminum’s not the strongest material, so it can’t hold as much effective projected area (EPA), which is the area of the pole that is “loaded” by the wind. It’s also not as flexible when it comes to matching the existing anchorage since the bases are “cast” bases. That means you have limited options for bolt circles.

Steel Poles

Steel poles are ideal if you need a stronger option. They can hold larger and heavier loadings from fixtures, flags, banners, brackets, and accessories. Their baseplates are also more easily modified to fit existing anchorage.

While steel poles provide strength, their finish does tend to lack the endurance of an aluminum pole due to the natural corrosiveness of the material. They eventually rust over time, which means you may have higher maintenance costs to keep them looking nice. That said, there are several ways to ensure that you get the longevity of the finish you desire on a steel structure. And at General Structures, Inc. we offer several warranty options to keep your poles looking brand new, saving you the cost of installing new light poles.

At the end of the day, it all depends on what you need for your project. Strength, durability, and maintenance are all important factors to consider. At General Structures, Inc., we can help you weigh your options and choose the right poles.

Have questions? Ask Michael.

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General Structures, Inc. has been the best partner for C&I lighting standards since 1988. We adhere to standards set forth by AASHTO, ASTM International, and NEMA and weld all of our products to the highest American Welding Society standards.

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