How Cell Sites Are Protected From Lightning
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Protecting equipment placed into service within an environment with elements that pose the risk of damage is difficult for all businesses. Any industry that needs to put equipment into harm’s way to perform the service they are tasked with is interested in figuring out ways to protect that equipment. Different methods can be deployed that are situationally specific such as covering or shrouding the equipment and integrating devices designed to prevent failures. Essentially, the work of all protective equipment is the same, to keep the sensitive components functioning and online for as long as possible, knowing that the threats exist which can impede that progress. Identifying threats to equipment placed in the field can help create specific solutions deployed to prevent them. When equipment needs to be protected from the elements, it is placed inside a strong, purpose-built cabinet, keeping outside forces from impacting it. This becomes less effective when the very nature of operations does not allow that equipment to be fully shrouded. Take the example of a cellular site, where the antennas and receivers of signals cannot be blocked by shrouding, or they would not provide a clear signal. Cell phone users need a nearby cell tower or another cell site to connect to and send and receive the clearest signal possible. The active equipment on a cell tower doesn’t need to be placed in a cabinet to protect it, but it does need to be protected from electrical surges caused as a result of lightning strikes. When lightning strikes on or near a cell tower, any equipment positioned on that tower is susceptible to damage by a power surge that can move through the equipment cables. The lightning strike is capable of creating immense damage at the point of strike, should it be to the tower itself. Here the equipment that is struck can not be salvaged. But just as dangerous is the resulting lightning surge that can affect all connected equipment. To stop equipment from the damage caused by lightning surges, cell operators are integrating industrial surge protection devices into the cell sites. The surge protection systems sit along pathways through which electricity can flow and monitor the safe range of electricity reaching the equipment. If that level deviates outside the safe scope, the surge protection device activates and diverts the surge. These devices protect equipment that might be damaged by a lightning surge, not the strike. They minimize the damage to the point where the lightning might have struck. Industrial surge protection installed on cell sites reduces the costs for repairs and allows cell installations to be returned to functionality faster.