Every day we use our phones without giving much thought to the infrastructure that allows us to use these devices wirelessly. There are approximately 417,000 cellphone towers across the United States that support networks allowing us to send texts, go online, and talk to others instantly. But what you may not know is that nearly all of these towers rely on guy wires – so, what is a guy wire and what does its name mean?

Guy wires are essentially tensioned cables, similar to industrial wire rope or cable, that are used to add stability to free-standing structures. These are far stiffer than other types of wire ropes or cable though, as their primary purpose is added security.

The reason behind the name dates back to its first original use, which was attaching sails to a mast on ships. Dutch sailors called this a “gei”, which is where the modern name comes from now. There are other names and terms which can be used interchangeably for guy wires, including:

  • Strand wire
  • Stay wire
  • Guy strand
  • Guy cable
  • Guy anchors

While guy wires are widely used today for telecommunication towers and marine structures, there are countless more uses for this type of equipment. Many wire rope suppliers also sell guy wires as part of their product line.

If you use industrial wire rope for construction or to add stability to free-standing structures, you could benefit from switching to a guy wire. Here’s what you need to know:

1. What is a Guy Wire Made of?

Guy wires are made from high-strength grade steel that is based on the ASTM A475 Standard Specification. This applies to zinc-coated steel wires, which means that guy wires are typically galvanized for added protection from corrosion and wear.

Galvanization involves coating the wire in molten zinc, creating a thin protective layer over the steel. This protects the steel from corroding if exposed to moisture. Since guy wires are often used on free-standing structures or ships, the wires will be exposed to water frequently. This galvanized finish helps to diminish rusting that can occur from contact with moisture.

There are two main types of stranding for guy wires: 1×7 and 1×19. This means that each strand contains either 7 or 19 wires with one central core. 1×7 wires are smaller in diameter and have lower breaking strength ratings than 1×19.

2. What is a Guy Wire Used For?

We see guy wires nearly every day without even realizing it. They are a common fixture on electric and telephone poles and are used to secure the tall poles to the ground below. These wires need to be extremely durable and strong to withstand not only the weight of the poles and wires themselves but also external elements like strong winds.

The guy wire is also used widely on sailing boats and yachts to securely hold the masts. This is known as “standing rigging” and lateral guy wires are used on the starboard and port sides to keep the mast straight and firm, despite the friction from the incredibly strong winds catching in the sails.

Guy wires are incredibly versatile and are used to provide added security in all types of applications. For instance, guy wires are used by firefighters to support extension ladders. These wires are also attached to telecommunication antenna towers. These towers can be up to 2,000 feet high and require incredible stability to keep the structure erect. You may also see a guy wire used as part of a rigging or overhead lifting apparatus. Guy wires are often called “tag lines” when used with a crane and are designed to prevent loads from rotating or swaying.

3. Additional Guy Wire Hardware

Since most guy wires are used for permanent or semi-permanent securement, there are several pieces of additional hardware required for their attachment. Anchors are pieces that will be secured into the ground or to a permanent structure, such as another building.

The most common types of anchors used are:

  • Dead man anchors: Large holes filled with dirt or concrete with a rod inserted into the center as the point of securement.
  • Screw anchors: A long rode with screw blades that are drilled deep into the ground.
  • Expanding anchors: A rod with pivoting blades that is pushed deep into the ground. When tension is added to the rod as the guy wire is attached, the blades expand to hold the rod in place.
  • Grouted anchors: These are used to secure the anchor into hard soil or rock and held in place with liquid grout for added securement.

Guy wires share many industrial hardwire pieces with industrial wire ropes, such as bolts, thimbles, and clamps. These hardware pieces are designed to create a secure loop so the guy wire can be attached to a hook or shackle.

There are also some hardware pieces that are specifically designed for guy wires, such as pole bands. These are fittings that are installed around the entire circumference of a pole so guy wires can attach to add securement.

Over to You

At the end of the day, a guy wire is an incredibly strong and durable type of wire rope. Although the guy wire and industrial wire rope share similarities, they generally serve different purposes. If you are debating between using either of these types of equipment, you should base your decision on the intended purpose. If you are looking for steady stability for a structure, the guy wire is generally going to be the way to go.

If you are looking for any type of industrial wire rope, guy wire, or other hardware equipment, check out Elite Sale’s product catalog. We carry a vast variety of industrial equipment and would be happy to help you find the exact type you need for your next project.