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Complete overview of lightning arresters (part 1)


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Lighting and Voltage Surge


Lightning can create voltage surges in several of the f ollowing ways. Lightning can score a direct hit on your house. It can strike the overhead power line which enters your house, or a main power line that is blocks away f rom your home. Lightning can strike branch circuitry wiring in the walls of your house. Lightning can strike an object near your home such as a tree or the ground itself and cause a surge. Voltage surges can be created by cloud to cloud lightning near your home. A highly charged cloud which passes over your home can also induce a voltage surge. Voltage surges can also be caused by standard on and of f switching activities of large electric motors or pieces of equipment. T hese surges can be created by a neighbor, or by a business or manuf acturing f acility some distance f rom your house. T hese surges are insidious and f or the most part are silent. T hey can occur with little or no warning.

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Methodology to Suppress Lighting and Voltage Surge:


When a voltage surge is created, it wants to equalize itself and it wants to do it as quickly as possible. T hese things seem to have very little patience. T he surges will do whatever it takes to equalize or neutralize themselves, even if it means short circuiting all of your electronic equipment. T he method of providing maximum protection f or equipment is quite simple. Create a pathway f or the voltage surge (electricity) to get to and into the ground outside your house as quickly as possible. T his is not, in most cases, a dif f icult task. T he first step is simple. Create an excellent grounding system f or your household electrical system. T he vast majority of homes do not have an excellent grounding system. Many homes have a single grounding rod and /or a metallic underground water pipe which are part of the electrical grounding system. In most cases, this is inadequate. T he reason is somewhat easy to explain. Imagine putting a two inch f ire hose into your kitchen sink and opening the nozzle to the f ull on position. I doubt that the drain in your sink could handle all of the water. Your grounding system would react in the same way to a massive voltage surge. Just as the water jumps out of the sink, the electricity jumps f rom the grounding system and looks f or places to go. Frequently it looks f or the microchips in your electronic devices. T hey are an easy target. T hey of f er a path of least resistance. Voltage surges want to be directed to the grounding system, and when they do, they want to get into the ground around your house in a hurry. You can achieve this by driving numerous grounding rods into virgin soil around your house. T hese rods should be UL approved and connected by a continuous heavy solid copper wire which is welded to each grounding rod. T his solid copper wire begins on the grounding bar inside of your electrical panel and terminates at the last grounding rod. Avoid using clamps if at all possible. Over time, the connection at the clamp can corrode or become loose creating tremendous resistance. T his will act as a roadblock to the electricity trying to get into the ground around your home. T he grounding rods should be at least ten f eet apart f rom one another. T hey should be located in soil which readily accepts electricity. Moist clay soils are very desirable. Rocky, sandy, or soils with gravel generally have high resistance f actors. Electricity has a tough time dissipating into them. Resistance readings should be in the range of 10 to 30 ohms. T he lower the better. T he second step in household surge protection is to install a lightning arrester inside of your electric service panel. T hese devices can be extremely ef f ective in intercepting large voltage surges which travel in the electric power lines. T hese devices capture the voltage surges and bleed them of f to the grounding wire which we just spoke of . If f or some reason you do not have a large enough grounding wire, or enough ground rods, the arrester cannot do its job. It must be able to send the surge quickly to the ground outside of your house. T hese arresters range in price f rom $50.00 to $175.00. Almost every manuf acturer of circuit breakers makes one to f it inside their panel. T hey can be installed by a homeowner who is experienced in dealing with high voltage panels. If you do not have this capability, have an experienced electrician install it f or you. T he final step in the protection plan is to install point of use surge suppression devices. Of ten you will see these called transient voltage surge suppressors. T hese are your last line of def ense. T hey are capable of only stopping the lef tover voltage surge which got past the grounding system and the lightning arrester. T hey cannot protect your electronic devices by themselves. T hey must be used in conjunction with the grounding system and the lightning arresters. Do not be lulled into a f alse sense of security if you merely use one of these devices! T he point of use surge suppression devices are available in various levels of quality. Some are much better

than others. What sets them apart are several things. Generally speaking, you look to see how f ast their response time is. T his is of ten ref erred to as clamping speed. Also, look to see how high of a voltage surge they will suppress. Make sure that the device has a 500 volt maximum UL rated suppression level. Check to see if it has an indicator, either visual or audio, which lets you know if it is not working. T he better units of f er both, in case you install the device out of sight. Check to see if it of f ers a variety of modes with respect to protection. For example, does the device of f er protection f or surges which occur between the hot and neutral, between hot and ground, as well as between neutral and ground. T here is a dif f erence! Check to see if it monitors the normal sine waves of regular household current. Surges can cause irregularities in these wave patterns. Good transient surge suppression devices devour these voltage spikes. Finally, check the joule rating. Attempt to locate a device which has a joule rating of 140 or higher. Electrical supply houses of ten are the best place to look f or these high quality devices. Some devices can also protect your phone equipment at the same time. T his is very important f or those individuals who have computer modems. Massive voltage surges can come across phone lines as well. T hese surges can enter your computer through the telephone line! Dont f orget to protect this line as well. Also, be sure the telephone ground wire is tied to the upgraded electrical grounding system.