Guidelines for providing surge protection

When it comes to losses of electrical and electronic equipment, few events can match the destruction caused by surges (transients) and electrical noise. These phenomena are responsible for about 50 percent of most electronic equipment failures today. The estimated annual cost for damages and lost revenues associated with these problems is in the millions. A homeowner can greatly reduce its risk of equipment damage, component degradation and system disruptions with a robust surge protection system.
An electrical transient is a short-duration, high-energy impulse that is imparted on the normal electrical power system whenever there is a sudden change in the electrical circuit. They can originate from a variety of sources, both internal and external. The most obvious source is from lightning but surges can also come from normal utility switching operations, or unintentional grounding of electrical conductors (such as when an overhead power line falls to the ground). Surges can also enter the premises via internet cable and telecommunications lines. However, numerous studies have shown that exterior sources account for only 20 percent of all electrical surges. The remaining 80 percent can be accounted for by equipment within a home.
In each case, the normal electric circuit is suddenly exposed to a high voltage signal that can adversely affect the equipment being supplied power.
A surge protection device (SPD), is designed to absorb and divert high- voltage surges to ground and bypass your equipment. When selecting an SPD, there are many features to consider, including remote annunciation capabilities, audio alarms, and indicator lights. A very important feature is a diagnostic indicator (visual, audible or otherwise) to verify that it is still functioning and hasn’t been disabled from the last surge suppression event.
Only surge protection that is properly sized and grounded can be successful in preventing equipment damage. For maximum protection, SPDs should be installed as close to the protected equipment as possible, and cable lengths should be as short and straight as possible to minimize the resistive path of the circuit to ground.
Although surges and electrical noise cannot be totally eliminated, they can be mitigated through an engineered approach to reduce their damaging effects. This leads to greater reliability and overall improved productivity. In this regard, surge protection is an inexpensive form of electrical system
For more information: IEEE Emerald Book®
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