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Surge Protection

What Does Effective Surge Protection Look Like in Practice?

| Author / Editor: Thorsten Heil / Dr. Jörg Kempf

With “Termitrab complete”, Phoenix Contact is now bringing the world’s smallest surge protection for MCR technology (measurement, control, and regulation) onto the market ...
With “Termitrab complete”, Phoenix Contact is now bringing the world’s smallest surge protection for MCR technology (measurement, control, and regulation) onto the market ... (Source: Phoenix Contact)

Assessing and minimizing risks is managed in an ever more transparent way today, and it is now often a matter for the boss. Lightning and surge protection for structural installations also plays a part. At the end of the calculation, tolerable risk and the effort required are weighed up and assessed in relation to one another. That is the theoretical approach — but what does effective surge protection look like in practice?

Lightning discharges in storms are a frequent cause of transient surge voltages. Even remote lightning strikes can have an effect on electrical and electronic components. For one thing, in the vicinity of a strike there is always a rise in potential in the ground due to the earth resistance and the lightning current. This increase in voltage continues via the grounding system and the equipotential bonding conductors — and can particularly damage the insulation of devices and cables.

But also the electromagnetic field created during the short duration of the pulse can couple into signal lines inductively or capacitively. As a result, signals can be affected and devices with sensitive electronics are often destroyed by the dozen. Components to which copper cables are laid over long distances, outside of buildings in open spaces are particularly at risk. But even inside buildings there is a risk to signal lines — particularly if the electromagnetic tolerance is not specified when the lines are laid.

* T. Heil, Product Marketing for Surge Protection, Business Unit Trabtech, Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG, Blomberg/Germany.

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