Should I Buy a House Near Power Lines?

Buying a house near power lines can be daunting, leaving you torn between your dream property and potential health concerns.

With conflicting information circulating about the risks, it’s natural to feel hesitant and confused. Are these fears justified, or can you safely purchase a home near power lines?

This blog post will investigate the issue, potential hazards, property value implications, and expert opinions.

By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the risks and benefits, enabling you to make an informed decision that suits your needs.

The Pros and Cons of a House Near Power Lines

Living in a house near power lines can evoke mixed feelings, with both advantages and disadvantages to consider. While weighing the pros and cons is essential, making an informed decision based on accurate information is equally important. Let’s examine some of the key factors that can influence your choice when it comes to purchasing a home near power lines.

Pros:

  1. Lower Property Prices: Homes near power lines often have a reduced price tag. Many buyers are deterred by the perceived risks of living close to power lines, which drives down demand and prices. This can provide an excellent opportunity for budget-conscious buyers or investors looking for a bargain.
  2. Less Noise Pollution: Power lines are often located in less densely populated areas, which can translate to a quieter living environment. Reduced noise pollution from traffic and neighbors can be a significant plus for those who value peace and tranquility.

Cons:

  1. Health Concerns: One of the main reasons people are apprehensive about living near power lines is the potential health risks. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by power lines have been the subject of debate, with some studies suggesting a correlation between EMFs and adverse health effects, such as childhood leukemia. However, other research has shown no conclusive evidence of such risks. Organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) state that EMFs from power lines are not a significant health concern.
  2. Aesthetic Considerations: Power lines can be an eyesore and may detract from the overall appeal of your property. For some people, the visual impact of large transmission towers or overhead lines can be a deal-breaker, especially if they obstruct otherwise picturesque views.
  3. Impact on Property Value: While the lower initial cost may be a pro, the potential negative impact on property value should not be overlooked. Homes near power lines may have slower appreciation rates due to perceived health risks and aesthetic concerns, which could affect future resale prospects.
  4. Limited Expansion Opportunities: Homes close to power lines may have restrictions on future expansions or additions. Building regulations might require maintaining a specific distance from power lines, limiting your ability to extend or modify your home.

Are Power Lines Really Dangerous?

Studies have been inconclusive. It depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type of power line.
  • The strength of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
  • How close you are to the power lines.

For the most part, the scientific consensus is that living near power lines does not pose a significant health risk.

There’s another issue: Some worry that a downed power line could be a fire or electrocution hazard. This is true, of course, but only to a point—it’s rare for this to happen.

Will Power Lines Affect Property Values?

Yes. There’s no getting around it.

It’s not a huge impact, but it is an impact. Homes near high-voltage power lines can be worth up to 10% less than homes that are not near power lines. If the power lines are unsightly, it could be more.

Of course, this varies depending on the location. Power lines are so common in some areas that it’s not a factor. In other areas, they are less common and can be more of a problem.

But this cuts both ways. Yes, your property values will not increase as high as they might. But they will also give you a discount when you purchase the property.

Can You Hear Overhead Power Lines?

Yes. But it’s not as bad as you think.

While power lines do produce a faint humming noise, it’s usually only noticeable if you’re within a few hundred feet of the lines. And even then, it’s not loud enough to be a nuisance.

After all, someone else was already living there, so it certainly isn’t an unlivable situation.

The more pressing concern: will it bug you to see high-voltage power lines in your backyard daily?

What is a Safe Distance from a Power Line?

There is no definitive answer, but most experts agree that a distance of at least 200 meters is safe. 

That is not to say houses closer than 200 meters aren’t safe. It’s just to say that beyond 200 meters, there is no detectable radiation. So, even if the radiation was unsafe, it isn’t present from that distance. EMF drops off very quickly away from its source.

In reality, utility companies would not put power lines where they were unsafe. Likewise, builders would not build houses where they were not safe. It is extremely debatable whether power lines can impact human health.

Largely, there is a concern that individuals today are exposed to so much electromagnetic radiation that any additional electromagnetic radiation could have compounding effects. But this has never been proven.

Who Is Responsible for Maintenance and Tree Trimming?

The utility company is responsible for maintaining and clearing the power lines of vegetation. They are also required to trim trees that might come into contact with the lines.

This is important because a tree falling on a power line can cause an outage or fire.

So you don’t need to worry about any additional maintenance. Most of your concern will be about the magnetic field-but again; there’s no evidence that living near power lines is dangerous.

Will You Be Able to Sell a House Near Power Lines?

Another concern is that you might be unable to sell a house near power lines.

But as a realtor, I can tell you that any house will sell eventually, especially in this market. Houses have been selling without floors.

It may take longer to find a buyer, and you may have to sell for less than you would like. But those power lines aren’t getting any closer to your house, and the perceived danger isn’t any more significant. If you’re buying your house now, you’re already getting it at a discount, so selling it at a discount may not be a significant loss.

Can You Bury Power Lines Near Your House?

No.

The vast majority of power lines are underground. The only reason lines are ever overhead is that building them that way is cheaper. Burying a power line can cost up to 10 times as much.

But even if you were willing to pay that cost, the power company strictly owns and maintains those power lines.

You may need to look toward planned developments if you want buried lines. Many planned developments will bury lines even if they aren’t usually buried in the area.

Pro Tip: Requesting an EMF Inspection

If you’re concerned about electromagnetic fields, you can always request an EMF inspection. This is an inspection specifically for the EMFs output by high-voltage lines. The inspector will measure the EMFs around your house and let you know if they are within safe limits.

This is not a common inspection, so finding an inspector in your area may be difficult. Call your utility company first. It’s possible they can send someone out from the city.

So: Should I Buy a House Near Power Lines?

It depends.

Real estate is expensive and (currently) scarce. You might need to concede something to enter the real estate market. That “something” could be an overhead power or transmission line over your hose or through your yard.

If the house is otherwise perfect and you’re getting it at a “discount,” you might want to ask yourself how concerned you are about the potential danger and how much you want the property.

If you’re in an area with high winds and dramatic storms, the concern of a downed power line becomes more significant. If you’re in an area that barely ever has adverse weather, then perhaps it’s not a major concern.

Because no one knows exactly how dangerous power lines are (or aren’t), it’s a judgment call. Power lines drop off in detectable impact at around 400 to 500 feet, so it should not be a significant concern after that distance.

  • It hasn’t been shown that power lines are dangerous.
  • However, they could reduce property values and dampen aesthetics.
  • Still, houses are selling fast enough that it may not matter.

FAQs

Should I buy a house next to a powerline?

It depends on your concern regarding the potential dangers of living near power lines and how much discount you are getting on the property. If you’re in an area with high winds and dramatic storms, weigh the risks of a downed power line and the radiation.

How far away from power lines should you live?

There is no firm answer, as the impact of living near power lines has not been conclusively shown to be dangerous. Detectable energy drops off after around 400 feet.

Is it OK to live near power lines?

Some studies say yes, while others are inconclusive. It depends on various factors, including the type of power line, the strength of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and how close you are. If you are more than 500 feet away, it should be safe.

Are power lines connected to houses?

No, high-voltage lines are not connected directly to houses. Rather, lower voltage lines run from the high-voltage connections to the houses. But even the lower voltage lines may be perceived as unsightly by some.

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