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Grain Bin Clearances

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Planning a New Grain Bin?

Before planning for a new grain bin (or to move an existing bin), make sure that you contact your Cooperative’s local energy advisor to review the specific safety clearances along with the electric service requirements and associated charges.  In order to meet your expectations and to provide you with the electricity when and where you need it, please allow a minimum of six to eight weeks lead-time by following the guidelines listed below.

1. Contact your energy advisor before the grain bin pad is poured to ensure it is located a safe distance from overhead power lines. 

Your local energy advisor will provide you with the assistance you need for a safe environment for those living and working near or around the grain bins.  The state of Iowa requires specific clearances for overhead electric lines around grain bins, with different standards for those filled by portable or permanent augers, conveyors and elevators.  

Electric wires should be at least 18 feet from the highest filling or probing port on the bin; and the total required clearance on the loading side needs to be 1.5 times the 18 feet from the highest filling or probing port on the bin. Electric service cannot be provided to a grain bin installation that does not meet these specific clearances.

According to the Iowa Electric Safety Code found in Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 199 -- 25.2(3) b. An electric utility may refuse to provide electric service to any grain bin built near an existing electric line which does not provide the clearances required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)C2-2017 “National Electrical Safety Code,” Rule 234F. This paragraph “b” shall apply only to grain bins loaded by portable augers, conveyors or elevators and built after Sept. 9, 1992, or to grain bins loaded by permanently installed augers, conveyors, or elevator systems installed after Dec. 24, 1997. (As adopted by the Iowa Utilities Board)

To promote safety, it is also suggested that you post warning signs indicating “loading” and “non-loading” sides of the bin. Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative has free warning decals available that can be used to alert others around grain bins.  Safety First, Always!

2. Contact your Energy Advisor before the bin site is confirmed to ensure there are adequate electrical facilities in place to handle the new electric load. 

Your local energy advisor will determine the electric service requirements (single or three phase service) relative to the grain bin’s motor size and review with you the associated service extension charges. 


Member-owners are charged a contribution in aid of construction to extend or upgrade the Cooperative’s existing service facilities to your bin site.  The service extension charges are based on the distance and the additional kVA capacity of load installed or added.  

3. Contact your energy advisor before you purchase the bin or add any new motor load to ensure that your load functions properly and does not compromise the quality of the Cooperative’s electrical service delivered to others.    

Individual motors of 25 horsepower (HP) or larger require an engineering analysis and may require the installation of “soft start” equipment to reduce voltage problems. 

According to the Iowa Electric Safety Code found in Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 199 – 20.4(15) b., an electrical utility may refuse or disconnect service without notice in the event of “customer use of equipment in a manner which adversely affects the utility’s equipment or the utility’s service to others.”

Your Cooperative has a “Shared Power” program that requires large, seasonal loads of 25 kVA or larger to share in the annual costs for transmission and distribution capacity.  In order to determine the annual Shared Power requirement, the transformer is sized to meet your highest expected demand during the year.  The Shared Power program is a cost-effective and convenient program that offers you the flexibility and local control of your farming operation.  

Download the minimum bin set back requirements from electric wires. Disclaimer: These drawings are provided as part of Iowa electric cooperatives' annual public information campaign and are based on the 2017 Edition of the National Electrical Safety Code. To view the actual drawings, refer to that publication. Every care has been taken for the correctness of the contents for these drawings. However, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives and its member cooperatives accept no liability whatsoever for omissions or errors, technical inaccuracies, typographical mistakes or damages of any kind arising from the use of the contents of these drawings, whether textual or graphical. 

If you have any questions, please contact Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative at 800-225-4532. Safety First, Always!