Electrical protection is one of the more important aspects of system building for industrial facilities as well as smaller operations. The reason for the necessity of the electrical protection is the degradation of equipment used in the process either over time or instantaneously as a result of transients. A “transient” is a fluctuation in power flow outside of the normal operational range for a piece of equipment, ultimately impacting it in a negative way by causing either catastrophic damage to circuitry or the ongoing and slow destruction of the device, leading to a shorter lifespan than would be seen if it was protected. These fluctuations in power flow happen for a variety of reasons ranging from lightning strikes to the regular and ongoing switching on and off of the equipment itself. Many are unaware that a voltage spike happens when equipment is powered up or power down, leading to a gradual degradation of the circuitry inside of that component. If these transient instances are reduced, the natural life span of the equipment before it is beyond repair, is lengthened. This can lead to less operational costs over time. Avoidance is the best protection measure with regard to power surges, meaning that reducing their contact with critical equipment is the best policy. This is achieved through the integration of surge Type 1 and Type 2 protection devices placed previous in the power – “upstream” from the equipment with potentially to be damaged. These protection devices are installed in appropriate places along the power chain, with the last or Type 3 SPD devices being placed close to the device itself. This gives the protection from the time when a power surge enters the system until it reaches the device itself. This will give the opportunity for the surge to be stopped and diverted as necessary. Surge protection devices placed along the pathways that power can travel, in addition to being placed along connectivity lines in between devices, provide the ability to not only avoid instantaneous destruction, but also the ongoing degradation of power up and power down.
Lightning strikes are a major problem within industrial facilities due to their physical placement in remote areas, and often housing tall structures which are prime targets for lightning. Once again, avoidance is the best practice with regard to lightning strikes, as the strike point is almost always completely destroyed. Overhead shielding or lightning rods installed in and around the facility will allow for the attraction of the strike to be away from sensitive equipment. These types of systems can effectively handle the grounding of the electrical surge produced by the lightning strike, as well as assist in the protection that the SPDs provide. If lightning can be drawn away to ground it will not produce a power surge that can couple into the system through an adjacent area. This gives the surge protection devices more time to identify dangerous situations as well as less instance of the direct strike to the equipment or to the connectivity lines themselves. Through these combinations of surge protection devices and lightning protection we have found that equipment life can be extended, adding to the profitability of most businesses.