Elastomer vs Aluminum vs Steel Bases
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
When choosing a lighting assembly, choosing the material is often a big decision. While there are many different pieces in a lighting assembly, the base is not usually seen as something that should be looked at separately from the material of the pole.
The base is a weak point on the pole when it comes to corrosion. They take a beating from sprinklers, road salts, fertilizers and road debris. Poles are stationary and are hardly ever washed; imagine your car sitting in one spot for years without getting washed, what would happen to the paint? After years of abuse, even the best paints will degrade. At this point it is up to the material beneath the paint to stand up to the elements. This is the point where materials can really be compared.
Aluminum: When the paint comes off and the bare aluminum is exposed it will begin to oxidize. This is actually the metal trying to protect itself, though with continued exposure it will continue to pit.
Elastomer Composite: This material doesn't oxidize or rust as it's chemical makeup doesn't react to the elements in the same way the metal does, so it wont degrade as a metal does even when the paint degrades.
Steel: When raw steel is exposed it will begin rusting.
There are a couple of types of poles; one is a one-piece pole where the base is welded to the pole and is a structural part of the pole. The other is where the base is two pieces that wrap around the pole. This is important to note as the bases start into their degradation. If the pole is one-piece pole, which is seen mostly in Aluminum and Steel poles, the flaking of the paint can go from the base right on up the pole causing possible structural issues. With two piece bases, only the base would be affected and the base usually protects the pole from the elements as it wraps the bottom of the pole. Another benefit of a two-piece base in any material is the benefit during a knockdown situation. If a pole gets hit by a car, it usually gets hit in the base area. If the base is structural as it is on a one-piece pole, you may have to replace the whole pole. Usually with a two-piece base, in any material that base will be broken, but the pole will be intact and your replacement is much less costly.
At Mountain States Lighting we can provide whatever material or type of pole that fits your needs best and we are glad to answer any questions you have about this information.