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Transmission vs. Distribution: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Transmission is the high-voltage transfer of electricity over long distances; distribution is the local, lower-voltage delivery to consumers.
Transmission vs. Distribution

Key Differences

Transmission refers to the process of moving electricity over long distances through high-voltage power lines. Distribution involves taking this electricity and delivering it to individual consumers via a network of local, lower-voltage lines. While transmission lines are akin to highways, distribution lines are more like local roads.
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Nov 16, 2023
In the context of electrical grids, transmission systems are designed to carry large amounts of electricity over great distances, using high-voltage lines to minimize energy loss. Distribution systems, on the other hand, operate at lower voltages and are responsible for the final stage of electricity delivery, connecting to homes and businesses.
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Transmission networks are the backbone of the power system, connecting power generation sites with major substations. Distribution networks branch out from substations, bringing power into neighborhoods and buildings. While transmission lines are visible as large towers across open landscapes, distribution lines are more commonly seen on poles along streets.
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Transmission lines are managed by grid operators to ensure efficient and reliable long-distance electricity transport. Distribution lines, managed by local utilities, focus on the complexities of delivering power to diverse end-users, requiring more intricate network management due to the varying demand patterns of consumers.
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Maintenance and upgrading of transmission infrastructure are critical for overall grid stability and efficiency, as they carry bulk power across regions. Distribution systems require constant attention to maintain service reliability and to adapt to local demands, including the integration of renewable energy sources at the consumer level.
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Comparison Chart

Voltage Level

High voltage for efficient long-distance transport.
Lower voltage for safe local delivery.
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Function

Transports electricity from power plants to substations.
Distributes electricity from substations to end users.
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Infrastructure

Consists of large towers and long power lines.
Involves smaller poles and transformers in local areas.
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Area Covered

Spans over long distances, often across regions.
Limited to local areas, neighborhoods, and streets.
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Energy Loss

Lower energy loss due to high voltage.
Higher energy loss relative to transmission.
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Transmission and Distribution Definitions

Transmission

The act of sending information, signals, or messages over a distance.
The radio transmission was clear, despite the remote location of the broadcaster.
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Distribution

The way in which values are spread over a range.
The distribution of test scores showed a high number of students scoring above average.
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Transmission

The act of passing something from one person, place, or thing to another.
The transmission of cultural traditions from generation to generation is vital for preserving heritage.
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Distribution

The process of marketing and supplying goods, especially to retailers.
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Transmission

The system in vehicles for transferring power from the engine to the wheels.
The car's transmission failed, leaving it unable to shift gears.
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Distribution

(Law) The transmission of inherited property to its heirs after taxes, debts, and costs of the estate have been paid.
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Transmission

The act of conveying electricity over long distances through high-voltage power lines.
The storm damaged the transmission lines, causing widespread power outages.
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Distribution

Something distributed; an allotment
Distributions from a retirement account.
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Transmission

The act or process of transmitting.
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Distribution

The geographic occurrence or range of an organism.
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Transmission

The fact of being transmitted.
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Distribution

The geographic occurrence or range of a custom, usage, or other feature.
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Transmission

Something, such as a message, that is transmitted.
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Distribution

(Statistics) A characterization of the occurrence of the actual unique values in a set of data (as in a frequency distribution) or of the theoretical unique values of a random variable (as in a probability distribution).
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Transmission

An assembly, as in a motor vehicle, that transmits power from an engine to a driving axle, usually having a manually or automatically adjustable mechanism to control the balance of power and speed. Also called gearbox.
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Distribution

(Mathematics) A generalized function used in the study of partial differential equations.
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Transmission

The sending of a signal, picture, or other information from a transmitter.
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Distribution

An act of distributing or state of being distributed.
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Transmission

The act of transmitting, e.g. data or electric power.
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Distribution

An apportionment by law (of funds, property).
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Transmission

The fact of being transmitted.
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Distribution

The process by which goods get to final consumers over a geographical market, including storing, selling, shipping and advertising.
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Transmission

Something that is transmitted, such as a message, picture, or a disease; the sending of such a thing.
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Distribution

Anything distributed; portion; share.
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Transmission

(biology) The passage of a nerve impulse across synapses.
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Distribution

The result of distributing; arrangement.
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Transmission

(automotive) An assembly of gears through which power is transmitted from the engine to the driveshaft in a motor car / automobile; a gearbox.
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Distribution

The total number of something sold or delivered to the clients.
The distribution of my little rock magazine is about 3,000.
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Transmission

(legal) The right possessed by an heir or legatee of transmitting to his successor(s) any inheritance, legacy, right, or privilege, to which he is entitled, even if he should die without enjoying or exercising it.
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Distribution

The frequency of occurrence or extent of existence.
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Transmission

(medicine, biology) The passing of a communicable disease from an infected host individual or group to a conspecific individual or group.
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Distribution

(economics) The apportionment of income or wealth in a population.
The wealth distribution became extremely skewed in the kleptocracy.
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Transmission

The act of transmitting, or the state of being transmitted; as, the transmission of letters, writings, papers, news, and the like, from one country to another; the transmission of rights, titles, or privileges, from father to son, or from one generation to another.
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Distribution

(card games) The way in which a player's hand is divided in suits, or in which a particular suit is divided between the players.
The declarer had 3-6-2-2 distribution.
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Transmission

The right possessed by an heir or legatee of transmitting to his successor or successors any inheritance, legacy, right, or privilege, to which he is entitled, even if he should die without enjoying or exercising it.
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Distribution

A probability distribution; the set of relative likelihoods that a variable will have a value in a given interval. Category:en:Functions
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Transmission

The mechanism within a vehicle which transmits rotational power from the engine to the axle of the wheel propelling the vehicle; it includes the gears and gear-changing mechanism as well as the propeller shaft.
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Distribution

A subset of the tangent bundle of a manifold that satisfies certain properties; used to construct the notions of integrability and foliation of a manifold.
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Transmission

The process or event of sending signals by means of a radio-frequency wave from an electronic transmitter to a receiving device.
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Distribution

(software) A set of bundled software components
A Linux distribution
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Transmission

The act of sending a message; causing a message to be transmitted
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Distribution

(finance) The process or result of the sale of securities, especially their placement among investors with long-term investment strategies.
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Transmission

Communication by means of transmitted signals
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Distribution

(logic) The resolution of a whole into its parts.
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Transmission

The fraction of radiant energy that passes through a substance
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Distribution

The process of sorting the types and placing them in their proper boxes in the cases.
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Transmission

An incident in which an infectious disease is transmitted
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Distribution

(steam engines) The steps or operations by which steam is supplied to and withdrawn from the cylinder at each stroke of the piston: admission, suppression or cutting off, release or exhaust, and compression of exhaust steam prior to the next admission.
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Transmission

The gears that transmit power from an automobile engine via the driveshaft to the live axle
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Distribution

(rhetoric) A rhetorical technique in which a subject is divided into multiple cases based on some property or properties, and each case is addressed individually.
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Transmission

The process by which a disease is spread from one person or organism to another.
The transmission of the virus was rapid among the crowded population.
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Distribution

The act of distributing or dispensing; the act of dividing or apportioning among several or many; apportionment; as, the distribution of an estate among heirs or children.
The phenomena of geological distribution are exactly analogous to those of geography.
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Distribution

Separation into parts or classes; arrangement of anything into parts; disposition; classification.
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Distribution

That which is distributed.
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Distribution

A resolving a whole into its parts.
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Distribution

The sorting of types and placing them in their proper boxes in the cases.
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Distribution

The steps or operations by which steam is supplied to and withdrawn from the cylinder at each stroke of the piston; viz., admission, suppression or cutting off, release or exhaust, and compression of exhaust steam prior to the next admission.
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Distribution

(statistics) an arrangement of values of a variable showing their observed or theoretical frequency of occurrence
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Distribution

The spatial property of being scattered about over an area or volume
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Distribution

The act of distributing or spreading or apportioning
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Distribution

The commercial activity of transporting and selling goods from a producer to a consumer
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Distribution

The process of making goods available for sale to consumers.
The company's efficient distribution network ensured products were readily available nationwide.
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Distribution

The delivery of electricity from substations to end users at a lower voltage.
The new distribution lines improved power supply in the rural area.
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Distribution

The process of releasing a film or media content to the public.
The film's distribution was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances.
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Distribution

The act of sharing or dispersing something among a number of recipients.
The distribution of relief supplies was crucial in the aftermath of the hurricane.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

How are transmission lines different from distribution lines?

Transmission lines are high-voltage and cover long distances, while distribution lines are lower-voltage and local.
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Nov 16, 2023

What is electrical transmission?

Transmission is the high-voltage transfer of electricity over long distances.
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Nov 16, 2023

Can transmission lines directly connect to homes?

No, transmission lines connect to substations, where voltage is reduced for safe distribution.
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Nov 16, 2023

What does distribution mean in the electrical grid?

Distribution refers to the local delivery of electricity to consumers at lower voltages.
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Nov 16, 2023

What role does a distribution substation play?

It steps down high-voltage electricity from transmission lines for local distribution.
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What are common issues in electricity transmission?

Energy loss, maintenance of infrastructure, and managing load demands are common issues.
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Nov 16, 2023

Can transmission lines be underground?

Yes, but it's less common and more expensive than overhead lines.
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Nov 16, 2023

Are distribution lines always above ground?

Mostly, but in urban areas, underground distribution is common.
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How does the design of transmission towers differ from distribution poles?

Transmission towers are larger and sturdier, designed for high-voltage, long-distance transmission.
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Nov 16, 2023

Are transmission and distribution systems managed by the same entity?

Not always. They can be managed by different companies or government entities.
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Nov 16, 2023

How do transmission lines minimize energy loss?

By using high voltage, which reduces energy loss over long distances.
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Nov 16, 2023

How does weather impact transmission and distribution?

Extreme weather can damage both systems, but distribution systems are more susceptible to local weather impacts.
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What challenges are faced in electricity distribution?

Distribution challenges include managing diverse consumer demands and integrating renewable energy.
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Can distribution systems handle electricity from solar panels?

Yes, modern distribution systems can integrate electricity from solar panels and other renewables.
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What is the future of transmission and distribution technology?

Advancements include smart grid technology, better integration of renewables, and improved efficiency.
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Nov 16, 2023

How do smart grids affect transmission and distribution?

Smart grids enhance efficiency, reliability, and integration of renewable energy in both systems.
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Nov 16, 2023

Is the security of transmission lines a concern?

Yes, due to their importance in national infrastructure, security is a significant concern.
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Nov 16, 2023

How do regulations impact transmission and distribution?

Regulations ensure safety, reliability, and fair access to transmission and distribution networks.
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Nov 16, 2023

What is the role of transformers in distribution?

Transformers reduce the voltage from transmission levels to distribution levels.
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Is the maintenance cost higher for transmission or distribution systems?

Both have significant costs, but transmission infrastructure often requires more capital for maintenance.
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Nov 16, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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