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Lightning

protection and
power quality
Application Note

Lightning protection plays a are bonded (and extraneous


vital part in the overall power ground rods removed), struc-
quality of an installation. tural steel is tied to service
Lightning occurrence varies by entrance ground, all grounding
geography, with Florida being connections are tight and free
the lightning capital of the U.S. of corrosion, etc. This minimizes
Lightning does not have to the phenomenon called trans-
score a direct hit to be disrup- ferred earth potential, where
tive. It has so much energy that large surge currents create
it couples surges into conduc- large voltage differences
tors, both those exposed to air between two ground points
and those buried in the ground. with different impedances to
Basic lightning protection has earth. This same grounding
two main requirements: practice is important for per-
formance reasons, as it tends to
1. Effective grounding minimize ground loop currents
A low impedance of the that circulate in an attempt to
grounding electrode system to equalize ground potentials.
earth is important. But, equally
important is that all parts of the 2. Surge arrestors
grounding system be bonded A surge arrestor is a protective
together: all ground electrodes device for limiting surge volt-
ages by discharging or
bypassing surge current... (NEC
280). Since the surge current is
Inspection of lightning protection system bypassed to ground, surge
arrestors are only as effective as
Check Look for Reason
the grounding system.
Surge arrestors Installed at main service panel, Lightning is high energy and needs
Surge arrestors are sized for
subpanels and critical equipment. multilevel protection.
To minimize high frequency impedance, Lightning has high f components. Shorter the location where they are
leads should be short, with no bends. leads have less XL and less impedance installed. Three categories are
at high f.
defined (ANSI/IEEE C62.41-
Grounding electrode Grounding electrode connections are not Ensure low impedance ground to
1991). A surge arrestor at an
conductors at service loose or corroded. minimize potential to ground with
entrance or at SDS Grounding conductor should not be lightning induced surges. outside installation is closest to
coiled or have unnecessary bends. Minimize impedance to high frequency the lightning event and must
components of lightning. absorb the most energy. This is
Grounding electrode All grounding electrodes should be Prevent difference in earth potential considered a Category C loca-
bonding effectively bonded together (< 0.1 ). between electrodes in event of lightning.
tion (corresponding to CAT IV in
Separately driven Electrode and equipment ground should Same as aboveentire grounding system
(isolated) electrode both be tied to building steel, and thereby should be an equipotential ground plane IEC 61010). Category B refers to
to the service entrance ground. for lightning. feeders and distribution panels
Datacom cabling Surge arrestors on datacom cabling or use Datacom cabling run between buildings (equivalent to CAT III in IEC
that runs between of fiber optic cables. can be a path for surge currents, due to 61010), and Category A refers to
buildings differences between building earth
potentials.
receptacle connected surge
arrestors (equivalent to CAT II).
Lightning protection is covered in a number of standards and codes, including:
NEC: Articles 250 and 280
National Fire Protection Association: NFPA 780
Lightning Protection Institute: LPI-175
UL-96 and UL-96A
Surge arrestor or TVSS
A surge arrestor is there to
protect the insulation and, ulti-
mately, prevent failures that
could lead to fires. It is not
necessarily designed to protect
sensitive equipment. Thats the
job of the TVSS (transient volt-
age surge suppressor).

Load
Sub
Main Panel
Service Surge
Arrestor
Surge
Surge Arrestor
Arrestor

Surge arrestors installed at service, panel, load.

Fluke Corporation
PO Box 9090, Everett, WA USA 98206
2004 Fluke Corporation. All rights reserved.
Printed in U.S.A. 10/2004 2403070 A-US-N Rev A
Web access: http://www.fluke.com

2 Fluke Education Partnership Program Lightning protection and power quality