Surge Protection of Electronic Equipment September 22, 2012

Surge Protection of Electronic Equipment

Generally, power circuits have components that have large thermal capacities, which make it impossible for them to attain very high temperatures quickly except during very large or long disturbances. This requires correspondingly large surge energies. Also, the materials that constitute the insulation of these components can operate at temperatures as high as 200 ºC at least for short periods. Electronic circuits, on the other hand, use components that operate at very small voltage and power levels. Even small magnitude surge currents or transient voltages are enough to cause high temperatures and voltage breakdowns. This is so because of the very small electrical clearances that are involved in PCBs and ICs (often in microns) and the very poor temperature withstanding ability of many semiconducting materials, which form the core of these components.

Notice that in the uncontrolled environment outside of our building.). Zone 2: This zone has protection catering to electronic equipment of the more rugged variety (power electronic equipment or control devices of discrete type). each with a higher level of protection and nested within one another. As we move into the first level of controlled environment. As we move into a more specific location. According to this concept. perhaps a computer room or a room where various . As we move up the SPZ scale. a higher degree of surge protection is called for if these devices have to operate safely in the normal electrical system environment. an entire facility can be divided into zones. distributed control systems.Zoned protection approach a reduction by a factor of 10 to possibly 100 A of surge capability. Zone 0: This is the uncontrolled zone of the external world with surge protection adequate for high-voltage power transmission and main distribution equipment. and protection better. The SPZ principle is illustrated in Figure 1.As such. the surges become smaller in magnitude. Thus comes the concept of surge protection zones (SPZs). we would consider the amplitude of say. and protection of highest possible order isprovided (includes computer CPUs. as we go down further and further into the zones. etc. Zone 3: This zone houses the most sensitive electronic equipment. called zone 1. into the facility itself. zone 2. we would get Figure 1 . 1000 A. We call this the zoned protection approach and we see these various zones with the appropriate reduction in the order of magnitude of the surge current. Zone 1: Controlled environment that adequately protects the electrical equipment found in a normal building distribution system. devices with ICs.

sensitive hardware exist. within the equipment itself. we find another reduction by a factor of 10. The IEEE C62. referencing all of this to the common service entrance earth even as it is attached to the metallic water piping system. the protection for zone 2 at the transition point from zone 1 is shown in Figure 3. Figure 2 . including both the RJ type of telephone plug as well as coaxial wiring. Similarly. Here we have a detailed picture of the entrance into the building where the telecommunications.The transition from zone 0 to zone 1 This is a common design error where there are two points of . Notice that the surge protection device (SPD) is basically stripping any transient phenomena on any of these metallic wires. as we go further and further away from the service entrance to the facility. to help attenuate the surge current magnitude. namely the wiring. The transition between zones 0 and 1 is further elaborated in Figure 2. the effect of this surge being basically one ampere at the device itself. we may find another reduction by a factor of 10. Here as we address the discrete level between the first level of controlled zone 1 and perhaps the plug-in device taking it into the zone 2 location. data communications and the power supply wires all enter from the outside to the first protected zone. we can see surge protection devices are available that handle the telecommunications. data and different types of physical plug connections for each. Finally. The idea of the zone protection approach is to utilize the inductive capacity of the facility.41 indicates a similar but slightly differing approach to protection zones.

When the lightning strike hits the . The use of the TVSS devices at each point is highly beneficial in controlling the line-to-line and line-toearth surge conditions at each point of entry. dedicated earthing wires. but the arrangement cannot perform this task between points of entry. Hence. We need to understand what is known as traveling wave phenomena. Figure 3 . and this is also harmful. Such wires may self-resonate in quarter-waves and odd-multiples thereof. Achieving Graded Surge Protection From the above. the stated problem will remain much as discussed above. Here in Figure 4. a common-mode surge current will be driven through the victim equipment between the two circuits despite the presence of the much-needed TVSS.This also applies to metal pipes. We notice that the operating voltage here is 11 000 volts on the primary line and the transformer has a secondary voltage of 380/400 V typically serving the consumer. there may be fire and shock hazard involved at the equipment.error where there are two points of entry and therefore two earthing points are established for the AC power and telecommunication circuits. Let us begin by talking about what happens when a lightning strike hits an overhead distribution line. Wires all possess self-inductance and because of −e = L dI/dT conditions cannot equalize potential across themselves under normal impulse /surge conditions. Earthing to these nearby items may be needed to avoid lightning side-flash. This is of paramount importance since the victim equipment is connected between the two points. The minimal result of the above is corruption of the data and maximally. etc. it will be clear that the type of surge protection depends on the type of zone and the equipment to be protected.The transition from zone 1 to zone 2 No matter what kind of TVSS is used in the above arrangement nor how many and what kind of additional individual. however. steel beams. We will further illustrate this by example. etc. we see the picture of the thunderstorm cloud discharging onto the distribution line and the points ofapplication of a lightning arrestor by the power company at points #1 and #2. are used. as we proceed from the uncontrolled area of zone 0.

Traveling waves and sparks over the lightning arrestor applied on a 11 000-V line might have a sparkover characteristic of approximately 22 000 V.power line. the traveling wave will go in at 22 000 V and then will double and start back down the line at 44 000 V. are able to withstand this high voltage. Vijayaraghavan (Buy this book at Amazon) . We call this the basic impulse level (BIL). the secondary supplying the building is going to have an over-voltage condition on it. such as points #3 or #4 in our chart. that voltage waveform travels on the power line moving very fast to all points of the line. At places where there is discontinuity to the electric line. the crossarms and all of the other parts. points #5 and #6 on our chart require us to think in terms of some type of lightning-protective devices at the secondary of the transformer.Protections in zone 0 enable the lightning arrestor to wait until the peak of the 11 000-V operating wave shape is exceeded before discharging the energy into the earth. the service entrance to the building and then further on into the building such as point #6 for the sensitive equipment to be fully protected in this facility. bonding. This says to us that the wire insulation. The peak of the 11 000-V RMS wave would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 000 V. which are nearby to the currentcarrying conductors. This type of phenomenon is known as reflection of the traveling wave and it occurs at open parts of the circuit or even the primary of transformers. the powerline’s inherent construction makes it capable to withstand as much as 95 000 V for its insulation system. Thus. Most of the 11 000-V construction equipment would have a BIL rating of 95 kV. Resource: Grounding. shielding and surge protection – G. When the primary of our distribution transformer serving the building achieves 44 000 V. This high level of spark-over protection is to Figure 4 . As the voltage comes to the 22 000-V level and then stays there as the lightning arrestor performs its discharge.