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Main Resource Speaker:

Engr. Oscar P. Pasilan, PEE
Fellow - IIEE
May 12 &13, 2016
Hotel Pier Cuatro, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City
“IIEE Soaring High Towards Globalization"

Auxiliary Speaker:
Engr. Raulito C. Baldonado Jr, PEE

To be able to understand the application of surge

arresters as to its proper installation location, rating
and specifications in order to provide protection of
equipment in substations.
What is a surge arrester?

Surge arresters are the basic protective

devices against system transient over-
voltages that may cause flashovers and
serious damage to equipment.

When a transient over-voltage appears at an

arrester location, the arrester conducts
internally and discharges the surge energy to
ground. Once the over-voltage is reduced
sufficiently, the arrester seals off, or stops
conducting, the flow of power follow current
through itself and the circuit is returned to
In general, surge arresters should be located at or
near the main transformers on both the high- and
low-voltage sides.
It may be desirable to also locate arresters at the
line entrances or, in some cases, on a bus that
may be connected to several lines.
They should be located to give maximum possible
protection to all major substation equipment.
Location of arrester on line side of
fuses will minimize the stress on
the fuse and help to avoid partial
melting of the fuse link when the
surge arrester responds to a
transient over-voltage.

Also, locating the arrester on the

line side of the circuit breaker will
protect the gap in the circuit
breaker when in the open position.
Lightning strokes can produce surges with
steep wave fronts, voltage gradients,
reflections, or oscillations and high rates
of rise of current, which can result in large
differences in the line-to-ground voltage
between even closely spaced points. It is
extremely important to locate the arresters
as close as practical to the apparatus
requiring protection.

The arrester lead length should be kept as

short as practical. If possible, the arrester
should be connected directly to the jumper
connecting the equipment to the system.
Selection Procedure
The principles for the application of surge arresters to allow a sufficient margin
between the plant breakdown insulation level and surge arrester protection
capability voltage within the two phase to-phase insulation level ranges.
The application process is described below:
1. Determine the continuous operating arrester voltage (MCOV)– normally
the system rated voltage.
2. Select a rated voltage for the arrester (Reference IEC & IEEE/ANSI
3. Determine the nominal lightning discharge current. At distribution
voltage levels below 36 kV when it is necessary to keep costs to a
minimum 5 kA ratings are often specified. In most circumstances 10 kA
surge arresters should be considered. For insulation > 420 kV 20k A
rating may be appropriate. 

4. Determine the required long duration discharge capability. At system-
rated voltages of 36 kV and below light duty surge arresters may be
specified unless the duty is particularly onerous (e.g. surge arresters
connected adjacent to large capacitor banks). At rated voltage levels
between 36 kV and 245 kV and where there is a risk of high switching,
long duration fault currents (discharge of long lines or cable circuits)
heavy duty surge arresters are normally specified. If any doubt exists
the network parameters should be discussed with the surge arrester
manufacturer. At rated voltages above 245 kV (IEC range II insulation
level) long duration discharge capabilities may be important.
5. Determine the maximum prospective fault current and the protection
tripping times at the location of the surge arresters and match with the
surge arrester duty (including pressure relief class per IEC 60099). 

5. Select the surge arrester housing porcelain creepage distance in
accordance with the environmental conditions and state to the
manufacturer if live line washing is electricity supply company practice. 

6. Determine the surge arrester protective level and match with standard
IEC 60099 recommendations. Typical protective levels are given in
Table 1 

Rated Voltage
The power frequency voltage across an arrester must never exceed its rated
voltage otherwise the arrester may not reseal and may catastrophically fail
after absorbing the energy of a surge.

As a rule of thumb if the system is effectively grounded the maximum phase-

to-ground voltage is 80% of the maximum line voltage.
For a non-effectively grounded system the maximum phase-to-ground
voltage is equal to the maximum line voltage.
Consider a 132 kV system with a maximum line or phase-to-phase voltage
110% of the nominal system voltage.
1.effectively grounded (earth) and
2. not effectively grounded.

Arrester voltage rating > 0.8 x 132 x 1.1 = 116 kV and 120 kV arresters are
usually selected for effectively grounded system. 

Arrester voltage rating > 132 x 1.1 = 145kV, for non-effectively grounded

Rated Current
Arresters are tested with 8/20_ms discharge current waves of varying
magnitude: 1.5 kA, 2.5 kA, 5 kA, 10 kA and 20 kA yielding increasing values of
residual discharge voltage. Maximum residual discharge voltages are detailed
in IEC 60099-1 and this parameter is usually taken care of in the
manufacturer’s design specification. For areas with high isokeraunic levels
(e.g. the tropics) or at locations near to generators or for unshielded lines 10
kA arresters should be specified. Lower rated arresters can be selected for
well-screened systems if it can be demonstrated that the surge discharge
current is less than 10 kA. 

However, the cost of arresters is small compared to the overall system
cost and therefore if some doubt exists regarding the discharge
current it is safer to specify the higher-rated heavy duty type of
arrester. Although lightning strikes have impressive voltage and
current values (typically hundreds to thousands of kV and 10–100 kA)
the energy content of the discharge is relatively low and most of the
damage to power plant is caused by the ‘power follow-through
current’. The lightning simply provides a suitable ionized discharge
path. The likelihood of power follow-through current after a lightning
discharge is statistical in nature and depends in a complicated way on
the point on the wave of lightning discharge relative to the faulted
phase voltage. 

Arrester Separation Distance and Lead Length
This section will provide us guide for determining maximum separation distances
between arrester lead tap and transformer, considering the effect of arrester lead

1. Arrester separation distance (S) is defined as the distance from the line
arrester lead junction to the transformer bushing. Voltage reflections result
when the discharge voltage traveling as a wave arrives at the transformer. If
the arrester is very close to the transformer, these reflection are cancelled
almost instantaneously by opposite polarity reflections from the arrester. As
the separation distance increases, the cancellation becomes less and less
effective and the voltage at the transformer may increase to almost twice the
arrester discharge voltage. 

Standard Outdoor
Substation Structures
Straight Column Line Dead End Structure 23 or 15 kV

23 16

Distribution Line
13 17

Arrester separation distance (S)



6 6 17
11 24

Terminal Box
12 23

23 kV 15 kV
A 12'-0" 10'-0"
B 4'-0" 3'-0"
C 2'-0" 2'-0"
D 7'-0" 6'-0"
2'-0" 6'-0"

Figure 1
2. Arrester lead length (L) is defined as
the total length of the conductor from
the junction of the surge arrester lead
with the line or transformer circuit to
physical ground, but not including the
length of the arrester itself. When the
arrester discharges, surge current
flows to ground over the lead length.
The resulting voltage drop, L di/dt, is
proportional to the length and adds to
the arrester discharge voltage. 

Standard Outdoor
Substation Structures
Straight Column Line Dead End Structure 23 or 15 kV

23 16

Distribution Line
13 17

Arrester Lead Length (L)



6 6 17
11 24

Terminal Box
12 23

23 kV 15 kV
A 12'-0" 10'-0"
B 4'-0" 3'-0"
C 2'-0" 2'-0"
D 7'-0" 6'-0"
2'-0" 6'-0"

Figure 1
Figure 2. Maximum Safe
Separation Distance of
Lightning Arresters from
Protected Equipment
Nominal System Voltage
23kV Through 46kV
L = Arrester Lead Length,
S = Separation Distance
(IEEE Std. C62.22,1991)
Figure 3. Maximum Safe
Separation Distance of
Lightning Arresters from
Protected Equipment
Nominal System Voltage
69kV Through 138kV
L = Arrester Lead Length,
S = Separation Distance
(IEEE Std. C62.22,1991)
Classifications of Surge Arresters
Station Class

Intermediate Class

Distribution Class

Surge arresters are classified as station, intermediate, and distribution

arresters. Classifications are determined by prescribed test requirements.
Primary differences in the use of the classes involve the voltage levels the
arresters will withstand and protect and the current levels the arresters will
discharge. All three classes may be used in substation applications.
Station Class Arresters: Station-class arresters are more ruggedly constructed.
They have greater surge current discharge ability and lower IR voltage drop, thus
affording better protection. In the event of arrester failure, their ability to vent safely
during high system short-circuit currents is better than the other classes of arresters.
Station-class arresters are recommended for all substations of large capacity
(10,000 kVA and above) and on smaller substations that are of prime importance.
They should be applied on transmission circuits longer than approximately 100
miles or where shunt capacitor banks are installed.
Station-class arresters are also desirable on substations using reduced insulation
(BIL) or those located in high lightning exposure areas.
They are the only class of arrester available for use on systems above 150 kV.
Intermediate Class Arresters: Intermediate-class arresters may be used in
substations rated below 10,000 kVA at a cost saving when compared to station-
class arresters. Their electrical protective characteristics (sparkover and IR) are
higher than station-class arresters, but are usually adequate for small substations.
In the event of arrester failure, intermediate-class arresters can safely vent with
short-circuit current of 16,000 amperes or less. Intermediate-class arresters are
available in ratings 3 kV through 120 kV.
Distribution-Class Arresters: Distribution-class arresters may be used on the low-
voltage side of distribution substations. Install them on the load side of feeder
overcurrent protective devices (reclosers or breakers). They are frequently applied
connected to the low-voltage bushings of small distribution substation transformers.
Their protective characteristics are not as good as either intermediate- or station-
class arresters. If distribution-class arresters are used in substations, use only the
direct-connected type with ground lead disconnector (isolator).
Test requirements for gapped silicon-carbide arresters are listed in IEEE Std.
Table 2 indicates the voltage ratings for surge arresters.
Table 3 indicates the pressure-relief test currents for the station- and
intermediate-class arresters.
The application of gapped silicon-carbide surge arresters is described in ANSI
Std. C62.2.
The major protective characteristics of the gapped silicon- carbide arresters are
summarized in Tables 4, 5, and 6.
Rating of Surge Arresters (Standard Definitions)

Voltage Rating–Duty Cycle (kV rms): The designated maximum permissible

operating voltage between its terminals at which an arrester is designed to perform
its duty cycle. It is the voltage rating specified on the nameplate. This rating is
applicable specifically to the silicon-carbide valve arrester and is also typically listed
with the MCOV rating for the metal oxide arrester.

Power-Frequency Sparkover Voltage: The root-mean-square value of the lowest

power frequency sinusoidal voltage that will cause sparkover when applied across the
terminals of an arrester. This rating is applicable to the silicon-carbide valve arrester.
Impulse Sparkover Voltage: The highest value of voltage attained by an impulse of
a designated wave shape and polarity applied across the terminals of an arrester
prior to the flow of discharge current. This rating is applicable to the silicon-carbide
valve arrester. Standard wave shape is a 1.2 x 50 ms wave, i.e., a wave that rises to
crest in 1.2 ms and decays to one-half crest value in 50 ms.

Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage (MCOV): The maximum continuous

operating voltage is the maximum rms power frequency operating voltage that may be
applied continuously to the terminals of the arrester. When applying metal oxide surge
arresters, the minimum value of this voltage is usually the maximum system line-to-
ground voltage.
Discharge Current: The discharge current is the current that flows through an
arrester as a result of a surge.

Discharge Voltage: The voltage that appears across the terminals of an arrester
during the passage of discharge current. Maximum values are usually available from
the manufacturer for currents of 1.5, 3, 5, 10, 20, and 40 kA with a wave shape of 8
x 20 ms. The discharge voltage resulting from a standard 8 x 20 ms current wave
shape approximates the standard 1.2 x 50 ms voltage wave shape reasonably well
between the current magnitudes of 5 kA and 20 kA.
The 8 x 20 ms standard current wave shape is one that rises to crest in 8 ms and
decays to one-half crest value in 20 ms. The 1.2 x 50 ms voltage wave shape is one
that rises to crest in 1.2 ms and decays to one half crest value in 50 ms.
Discharge-Voltage Current Characteristic: The discharge-voltage current characteristic
is the variation of the crest values of discharge voltage with respect to discharge current.

Nominal Voltage: Nominal voltage is the approximate phase-to-phase voltage

distinguishing one system from another. The nominal voltage is the voltage by which
the system may be designated and is near the voltage level at which the system
normally operates. The nominal voltage is usually approximately 5 to 10 percent
below the maximum system voltage.
Maximum System Voltage: Maximum system voltage is the highest rms phase-to-
phase operating voltage that occurs, the highest phase-to-phase voltage for which
equipment is designed for satisfactory continuous operation without derating of any
kind. It is the starting basis on which surge arresters are applied.
Maximum system voltages are generally those prescribed in ANSI Std. C84.1, “Voltage
Ratings for Electric Power Systems and Equipment (60 Hz).” On systems rated 345 kV
and below, it is expected that the maximum system voltage may be 5 to 10 percent
higher than nominal voltage.
Types of Surge Arrester

Silicon-Carbide Valve Arrester This technology relied on both the gap and the
silicon-carbide valve block to operate properly. It has a very good service history.
However, utilities continue to evaluate their over-voltage protection needs, in
particular at critical locations that are currently protected by gapped silicon- carbide
Types of Surge Arrester
Metal Oxide Surge Arresters
It’s primary component is zinc oxide
valve that has significantly greater non-
linear volt – current characteristics as
compared to previous devices.
The zinc oxide valve operates more
closely to that of a zener diode that is
applied in the electronic industry. The
valve is capable of being applied without
any gaps in the design, eliminating the
sparkover characteristic of previous
arresters (see Figure 4) as it eases into
conduction. The zinc oxide valve typically
provides lower discharge voltages than
available with previous designs.
“End of Topic”