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Surge Arresters

Application and Selection

• Surge arresters are devices that help
prevent damage to apparatus due to
High Voltages.

• The arrester provides a low-impedance

path to ground for the current from a
Lightening Strike or Transient Voltage.

• Restores normal operating conditions.

Causes of Voltage Surges
• External Causes (Lightening Strikes)

• The voltage surges produced due to lightning will shatter the

insulators and if they reach the windings of a transformer or
generator it may cause considerable damage.

• Internal Causes
• Switching Surges
• Due to load disconnection there is a sudden reduction of current
across the highly inductive circuits.
• As the magnetic field about the inductive conductor collapses, a
brief very high voltage can be generated at that point.
• These switching surges can be highly dangerous for the electrical
system and thus require proper control and protection devices.
Difference Between Lightening and Surge Arrestors

• Lightening Arrestor consists of a conductor which is connected to the earth and are installed on top
of huge buildings and transmission towers and gives protection against lightening strikes only.

• These were used when lightening was the only severe threat to the power system.

• After the introduction of EHV and UHV systems, the threat of switching surges was greatly increased.

• Surge arrestor gives protection against both the surges caused by lightening as well as surges
associated with switching.

• Both names are used interchangeably

• Surge arrestor can be used as a lightening arrestor but a lightening arrestor cannot be used as a surge
Types of Arrestors

• Rod Arrestor
• Consists of two rods connected to line
and earth.
• During surge, the gap sparks over and
current flows from line to earth.
• Rods get damaged due to arc.

• Horn Gap Arrestor

• When over voltage surge occurs, spark-
over takes place across the small gap.
• Highly affected by atmospheric and
corrosion effects.
Types of Arrestors

• Multi Gap Arrestor

• consists a series of small metal cylinder
insulated from one another and
separated by an air gap.

• Expulsion Type Arrestor

• Tube consists of fibrous material which is
vaporized during surge.
• The gas is expelled through the exhaust
along with the ionized air around the arc
• Can perform limited operations
Types of Arrestors

• Valve Type Arrestor

• Multiple assembly of identical spark gaps.
• series with gaps to offer high resistance to normal current
• The non linear elements offer very low resistance to high
surge currents
• When the surge is over, the non linear resisters assume high
resistance to stop the flow of current.

• Silicon Carbide Arrestor

• Uses non linear resistors made of bonded silicon carbide
placed in series with the gaps.
• During surge, the resistors break down allowing the current
to pass to ground.
• As the surge passes, the resistance increases allowing normal
• Gap durability is reduced with each operation and could
operate at normal voltages.
Metal Oxide Arrestor

• The arrester which uses zinc oxide semiconductor as a

resistor material, such type of arrester is known as a
metal oxide surge arrester or ZnO Diverter.

• Zinc oxide is N type semiconductor with more than ten

doping material such as Bismuth (Bi2O3), Antimony
Trioxide (Sb2O3), Cobalt Oxide(CoO), Manganese Oxide
(MnO2), Chromium oxide (Cr2O3). It is a dry powder.

• The powder is compressed into disc shaped blocks to

make metal oxide resister discs.

• The potential barrier of ZnO restricts the flow of current

at normal voltage.

• At surge voltage, the barrier collapse and surge is

diverted to ground.
Surge counter
• Eliminates spark over and arrestor failure due to spark gap breakdown

• The gapless design eliminates the high heat associated with the arcing discharges

• High energy absorbing capabilities and high stability for prolonged discharge

• Starts and stops at precise voltage level

• Leakage current present at normal conditions
Arrester Datasheet

MCOV: Maximum continuous phase to

earth voltage of the system

Rated Voltage: The maximum occurring

voltages on the arrester including the
temporary over voltages that can be
withstood by the arrestor from one tenth
of a second upto several seconds.

Discharge Voltage Table: The table

documents how well the arrester in
question can clamp lightening and
switching surges.
8/20us Maximum Discharge Voltage: often referred to as the
“lightning protective level”, lightning comes in various
amplitudes, from a few kA (1 kA=1000 amps) to occasionally
>100kA, this table shows what the voltage would be for 95% of
the impulse current levels that occur in nature.

0.5us 10kA Maximum IR: also known as the front-of wave

(FOW) protective level. In this case, the wave shape has a
faster rise time than the 8/20μs used for maximum discharge

Switching Surge Maximum IR: also called the switching surge

protective level, 45/90μs discharge voltage. This discharge
voltage represents the response of an arrester to a slow-rising
surge generated within the power systems during breaker or
switch operations.
TOV capability ≥ System TOV
 are oscillatory voltages with frequencies having periods of a few millisecond or longer.

 The primary effect of temporary over voltages on metal oxide arresters is increased current and power
dissipation, and a rising arrester temperature

Causes of TOV:

1. single line-to-ground faults

2. circuit back feeding
3. load rejection when one end of the line is open
4. Loss of neutral

Note that arresters are designed to withstand AC

over voltages, not to mitigate them.
Procedures for Arrester Selection
1. Select surge arrester

I. MCOV ≥ Maximum Line-to- Neutral Voltage

II. TOV capability ≥ System TOV

III. Arrester Class

a) Available rating
2. Determine Protective Characteristics

i. Lightning Impulse Protective Level , LPL

ii. Front-of Wave Protective Level , FOW
iii. Switching Impulse Protective Level , SPL

3. Select Insulation Strength

Equipment standards for BILs and BSLs and for CWW

4. Protective ratios
Switching Surge Withstand / Switching Surge Protective Level >= 1.15
Full Wave Withstand (BIL) / Impulse Protective Level >= 1.20
Chopped Wave Withstand / Front-of-Wave Protective Level >= 1.25

protective ratios
The protective ratios for lightning and switching impulses :
PR= (Insulation withstand / Voltage at Protected equipment)
System Neutral Grounding
 Four-Wire Wye Multi-Grounded Neutral :
The most common IEEE configuration is the 4 wire solid multi-
grounded neutral as shown in figure 1a. This is also known as an
effectively grounded system.

Figure 1a. Solidly Multi-grounded 4 wire system

 Three- or Four-Wire Wye Solidly Grounded Neutral at
Source :
A common industrial and very common IEC configuration is the 3 wire
impedance grounded wye (or star). Figure 1b shows this system.

Figure 1b. Solidly grounded 4 or 3 wire system

 Isolated / Ungrounded Classification:
A third common system configuration is an isolated or ungrounded system.
This can be either delta or wye configured. Figure 1c show the two

Figure 1c. Ungrounded systems (isolated neutral) Figure 1d. Single grounded neutral system
Phase voltage rise due to
ground or earth fault
 the ground fault factors is used to determine
the un faulted phase voltage rise during a
ground fault.
 Establish a minimally required continuous operating voltage
Uc, min.
 This must be as high as the continuous phase-to-earth
voltage of the system, provided with an allowance of at least
5% . IEC 60099-5

 Now to achieve rated value of an arrester Ur1. A factor of

1.25 is taken into consideration
Temporary Overvoltages
 In solid neutral earthing, the temporary over voltages may reach values of up to 1.4 times the
maximum phase-to-earth voltages for a period of few milliseconds.
 Ur2, is the occurring 1-s-voltage value divided by a factor

Ur2 = U1s / 1.15

Arrester rating datasheet
Nominal discharge current
 peak value of lightning impulse current
 Five different possible discharge current values has been classified in the
standard IEC 60099-4
1.5 kA , 3 kA , 5 kA , 10 kA , 20 kA , 40 kA

Line Discharge Class

 is the only possibility to specify the energy absorption capability of an arrester

in accordance with IEC 60099-4.
Arrester Classes

The manufacturers do mention the classes of an arrester they offer in their

respective datasheets.
For example the GE TRANQUELL offers following classes :

• Station Class
• Porcelain Station Class
• Polymer Intermediate Class
• Polymer Distribution Class
• Polymer Riser Pole
• Polymer
Location of surge arresters

 An ideal location for lightning arresters, from the standpoint of protection, is

directly at the terminals of the equipment to be protected.

 Therefore, it is always good practice to reduce separation between the

arrester and major equipment to a minimum
Arrestor Type Tests
According to IEC 60099-4 following tests are performed on the arrester:

• Insulation Withstand Test on Arrester Housing:

The test stipulates that the external insulation withstand of the arrester housing (empty)
shall conform to the following:
• Lightning impulse withstand voltage shall not be less than the lightning impulse protective
level of the arrester unit multiplied by 1.3.
• Switching impulse withstand voltage shall not be less than the switching impulse protective
level of the arrester unit multiplied by 1.25.
• Power frequency withstand voltage (peak value) shall not be less than the switching
impulse protective level of the arrester unit multiplied by 1.06 for a duration of 1 min.
Residual voltage tests:
To determine steep current impulse voltages, lightning impulse voltages, and
switching impulse voltages by passing 1/2, 8/20, 36/76 current waveforms of
various amplitudes. Oscillograms of current and voltage are obtained for each
test. Test is performed on MO resistors.
Long duration current impulse withstand test:
long duration current impulses for 2ms or 2.4ms are passed through MO resistors 18 times and the test is
considered passed if the resistors show no evidence of puncture, flashover, cracking or other significant
damage and their discharge voltages on nominal current do not change by 5%.
Operating duty test: According to
the standard(IEC 60099-4, clause
 Rated voltage is injected into the arrester for
a duration of 10 seconds.
 The arrester remains thermally stable (i.e ;
cools back down to normal operating
temperature. Under the conditions of
simultaneously occurring temporary over

Short circuit test

 The high current tests are performed with
 rated short circuit current (63000 A)
 two reduced short circuit currents (25000 A
and 12000 A); the low current test is
performed with short circuit current of
600±200 A.
 This test is performed on internal elements of
an arrester.
Field testing

• On field arrester is tested with high voltage testing

• Connect the high voltage test lead to the top and the
ground terminal to the bottom of the arrester.
• Slowly increase the voltage applied to the arrester (1-
2 minutes to reach test voltage) with intervals until
current begins to flow. When the current reaches 1
mA, record the voltages
• voltage on the arrester should not be applied for
longer duration (several minutes),as it can damage
the equipment.
Detecting High Current Impulse History

 If an arrester is stressed within 25% of its maximum design impulse current, it undergoes a small VI
characteristic change.
 To execute this test in practice the voltage is adjusted until the current is as high as possible, up to
1mA. Then the voltage level is recorded.
 If the voltage at the same current is different, the arrester has likely experienced a high current
surge during its service history. If more than a 20% difference in the voltages at maximum current is
detected, this means that serious impulse damage has taken place.
 With a 20% or more difference in the 1 mA current, the arrester should ideally be replaced. While it
will still protect with this impulse degradation, the arrester now has a higher chance of failure
during a temporary overvoltage event.