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What is surge protection and how is it different than lightning protection?
As with anything associated with electricity, using representatives that understand the products and their limitations is critical in providing either protection.
Surge protection systems, installed correctly provides a path for high voltage redirection not necessarily the volume of energy. Also to be considered, surge voltage typically is not as high as that associated with a lightning strike. Surge protection provides a path of this higher voltage back to the source, the source being the generator feeding the effected circuit. Dependent on the volume of electrons associated with the surge, good attachment to earth can increase success. In most cases the generator can be miles away and the energy of the surge dissipates thru all the ground attachment, at each power pole all the way back to this generator or more quickly thru the structure's earth attachment if the resistance is 5 ohms or less. Surge protection will be most effective if the structure's attachment to earth is less than 5 ohms
Lightning protection systems are designed to redirect high voltage in large current volume. Lightning arrestors attached to the structure basically attract lightning, or the energy, then redirect this energy thru conductors which are installed between the arrestors and the earth (ground). All the energy is dissipated thru the earth via attachment points, either rods or grounding grids. This attempted routing is for protection of the structure as well as the circuitry or electrical loads.
Surge protection is a means for protecting your electrical equipment from high voltage levels which can occur for many different reasons, internal or external. Surge protection’s main goal is to extend the life of electrical appliances. To say it another way, surge protections can help to make sure that the manufacturer’s stated life expectancy of an appliance is maintained.
Surge protection works with your existing grounding system. It will only be effective if there is a good path back to the source from any point of the electrical system where a surge event might occur. Good surge protection installations would include the verification of a good grounding bond between all electrical components which make up the electrical system for your structure.
Surge devices for electrical system protection should be layered for maximum benefit. The first level of surge protection only handles up to 90% of the surge, the remaining 10% would still be at levels high enough to damage equipment. A second layer would handle 90% of the first remaining 10% and this type redirection would continue thru each additional level of surge. Typically for effective surge protection, three layers is recommended.
Effective surge protection packages that include all of the following elements will be highly effective in protecting your electrical equipment:
Single point grounding to the source and earth ground, for all utilities, including electrical, phone, cable and or satellite services.
Protection equipment that has high surge current ratings for durability so that a single surge event does not take out the protector itself.
Protection equipment with low enough clamping voltage levels and quick response time.
Effective connection to earth with resistance level targets of 5 ohms.
Surge protectors installed in layers.
Surge protectors installed on all utilities, including electrical, phone, cable and or satellite services.
Effective grounding connections between all components of the electrical system of the structure being protected.