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Do you need surge protection?

Most people don't even think about surge protection when they buy a piece of sensitive equipment for the home, such as PC's, Laptops, Phones, or any electronic devices including your couple of thousand dollar flashy flat screen TV.




However, if you thought for one moment that those devices which in some cases are used for the main source of revenue (ie:- the hard drive in your business computer) would simply fry up with a electrical surge translating to = you'd loose all your business data, you would then think twice about installing surge protectors.

Let's start with the causes of electrical surges.

  • Lighting (regional)
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Power Mixing
  • Electrical Storm Surges (local lighting strikes)

Regional Lighting Strikes:- Lighting strikes are awesome to look at from a far however, they cause major disturbances on power lines right around the world. The electricity power supply companies take measures to limit the damage through shielding parts of the network from direct strikes however, surges will always be present.

Electrical Equipment:- In a home there are many appliances which draw larger currents than most. When this appliance is switched on and there are currently sensitive equipment on that same circuit the power needed to juice up that large piece of equipment (say a large washing machine) then a surge in electricity will take place which may have a devasting effect on a computer nearby.

Power Mixing:- If you look outside on the street poles you will find HV (High Voltage) cables supplying each building on the street. What you don't notice is that there is also telecommunication cables 1200mm below them. In some cases due to high winds, freak accidents, or old cables, these HV cables can touch one another. Next time you see on the news that car has crashed into a pole just remember those cables above may have touch one another causing untold surges in the local area circuits.

Electrical Storm Surges (lighting strikes):- There are ways of determining lighting strikes in your region and all you have to do is call you local energy supplier or telecommunications company. They have researched this topic in depth and have maps which will demonstrate the likely hood of lighting strikes in your area. Remember they too have sensitive equipment which they want to protect with surge protectors. You may have to pay for these maps or you might be lucky and find them online for free...

There are 3 ways surges can enter your home or building.

(1) Direct entry is through exposed metal parts (ie:- TV antennas, water pipes) If you've ever seen a TV antenna after it's been hit you'll see it no longer looks like a TV antenna but more like a mealted piece of mangled modern artwork.
(2) Lightning strikes which are not direct hits but indirect via low-voltage electricity distribution system can be another way. The main problem of these indirect strikes are the discharge current will raise the potential of the earth system in the building by an amount determined by the earth resistance. In high density urban areas the MEN system will limit this problem because many earths are connected together. This results in low values of earth resistance and helps prevent extreme rises in the earth potential. In areas of lower density the problem can be, much greater with quite severe rises in the earth potential.
(3) Induced by magnetic fields caused by lightning strikes which strike nearby conductors entering a building. Although the energy levels for this type of impulse are comparatively low surges they can cause a range of problems from the very little to major disturbance damage. One of the problems that this particular type demonstrates is electromagnetic fields do play havok on communication tower frequencies.







This page was last modified on 28 December 2009 and maybe out of date with regards to newer practices at the time of reading this article




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